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El Potrero Chico, Mexico, Sport Climbing Paradise on Limestone - Oh yeah!

hey all.

Let's get our climb on at El Potrero Chico (the "little corral") is a sport-climbing paradise, with limestone similar to Thailand and routes up to 20 pitches in length. The geography of the area is similar to west Texas and southern New Mexico -- arid Chihuahuan desert. Development of the area began in the late 80's by the likes of Jeff Jackson, Alex Catlin, Kevin Gallagher, Hank Caylor, Tony Faucett, Rick Watson, Craig McCudden, Curtis Mai, Todd McCray, Ed Wright, Dane Bass, and a host of Austin climbers. But it was Kurt "The General" Smith and Elaina Arenz that really put the place on the map by the late '90s. The climbing is about a ten-minute walk up the road from the accommodations. Pretty much everything is bolted, but some may opt for a light supplemental trad rack. Fifteen or so quickdraws and one (sometimes two) 60-meter ropes is usually enough. Ninety percent of the routes are less than thirty meters and only require one sixty-meter rope to get up and down. A few routes are best done with a 70-meter rope (Dope Ninja, Will the Wolf Survive?, and La Ola, to name a few). So all you need to bring climbing is some sunscreen, hat and a little water. It was eighty degrees last February. I would also bring some warm weather clothes as well. It can get chilly if a storm or clouds roll in. Many of the climbs are right off the road or a short five-minute approach. Many of the climbs are ten pitches or more in length which makes for a really fun day. There are enough classic climbs in the Potrero area to keep you busy for a good week to ten-day vacation, unless you are Michael Reardon. The bolts are generally good and runouts are scarce. Most belays are well bolted. There are also two spires that you can do a Tyrolean traverse between for some spicy action. The rock is limestone, but much more solid than in Thailand and the biggest fear is falling into a cactus. On your day(s) off there are some really fun things to do. The town of Hidalgo is a mile walk or five minutes by car down the hill from the climbing ranches and has a central market twice a week where you can do your food shopping as well as pick up all sorts of stuff from T-shirts to CDs. It is like being at the fair. Hidalgo also has a grocery store. Ask someone at the climbing ranch to help you find it. Getting There El Potrero Chico is located in the north-eastern state of Nuevo León, roughly 25 miles northwest of the city of Monterrey (population ~ 3 million). If traveling by air, fly to Monterrey and take a taxi or bus from there to the small town of Hidalgo (population ~ 20,000). The climbing area is located about 2 miles outside of town. A taxi will cost about $35US, and any of the accomodations will arrange a car to meet you and take you directly there for $40US or $45 with a grocery stop in Hidalgo. If driving from the U.S., cross the border at Laredo, Texas. It's about a 3-hour drive from here on reasonably good toll roads. Additional Directions

Accommodations and Restaurants La Posada La Posada has about everything a climber needs and is probably the most popular place for climbers. Camping is $5.00 per night. Rooms (about $20) are nice and the above website covers costs per night and much more. Posadas also offers a full kitchen with utensils, gas burners and refrigeration, all included in your $5.00 a night. Rooms can fill up fast so make reservations asap. I would recommend taking a large tub with lid to keep your food in. The refrigerators are side by side glass doored. The kind you get soft drinks from at a store. Bring a Black marker to tag your refrigerated food with. No one ever used any of our stuff, it just can get lost in the mix. Posada also has Wi-Fi so you can bring your laptop and pick up the Internet. When I was there last it costs fifty cents to call the states. There is also a restaurant on site that serves food and wickedly smooth tequila as well as other alcoholic libations. Top shelve tequila was $1.00 for a gigantic shot. Posada also has two buildings (mens - womens) bathrooms. I cannot speak for the womens but the mens has six toilets and six showers that are kept immaculately clean and stocked with toilet paper. Quinta La Pagoda La Pagoda is a large establishment but remains quiet during the climbing season (but it's 3 pools look nice for the summer). Camping for $5, and basic rooms for $20 (bring your own towels and TP). There's a restaurant, but closed for most of the winter. La Pagoda is the closest place to the climbing. A kitchen, fridge, and cooking utensils are available for common use, but aren't quite as nice as those at Posada's. Homero's Another option for camping and rooms. Also a nice big shared kitchen, with a bit of a lounge around, making a good place to hang out on chilly nights. Milton takes care of the place and will cook you dinner at their tiny restaurant, though your only option is whatever he's cooking. Luckily, he's a good cook in addition to being a great guy. Homero has a 4-bedroom, 1.5-bath house that he rents out for $110/night (in Feb. 2007). See Photo. Fully equipped kitchen. Great for a group. He also picked our group of 6 up at the Monterrey airport and dropped us off there for our return flight. Checo's Restaurant Awesome tacos and your basic Mex fare make this the only competition for your restaurant dollar other than Posada's (across the street). $3-5 for dinner and $1-2 for beer. Los Delfines A family-owned restaurant with cheap and good seafood. We ate there most every night. The ceviche is chock full of fresh seafood for $3.00. Eduardo, who works there, is one of Magic Ed's climbing students. Eduardo is also going to college in Monterrey to become a civil engineer.

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