TRIP REPORT: EL POTRERO CHICO, NUEVO LEON, MEXICO.

Ethan and Friends

This was my second trip to Potrero. I was there in 02 and again this year 03. The first trip I was unfamiliar with the area, the crags, the routes. By the end of my second trip, I had a handle on the area, accommodations, the crags, the best places to stay, a feel for the rock and route grades, when to chase the sun, and when to seek the shade.
The season: Seems to me….that the season at Potereo, is from early January thru early March. My opinion is mid February is the best. Last year I was there in mid feb and the temps were great. This year I was there at the end of January and the nights were very cool, somedays I climbed with layers and a shell. In mid Feb….it was tank tops.

Trad verus Sport: Potrero is sport climbing paradise. With over 500 bolted routes, from one pitch to 23 pitches, this is the best sport climbing I have ever done. Yes, I’ve been to Rumney, Red Rocks and NRG, good stuff! But no comparison to Potrero. The MASSIVE beautiful walls of Potrero are a magnifent site. The word “Awesome” has become so overused it has lost it’s meaning. Potrero is AWESOME. When you first lay eyes on the cliffs from 15 miles away, you will be impressed. When you stand at the entrance of Potrero and look up at the soaring limestone cliffs and fins…3,000 feet!! You will be blown away.
But I digress. There are trad routes at Potrero. Take my advice, for what its worth, leave your trad rack at home.This is sport climbing at its best, good bolts, all new, good solid repel and belay anchors. Leading trad routes here is VERY DANGEROUS. The limestone is brittle. Falls on trad gear are to be avoided. There was a fatality just before we arrived this year. A world-renowned climber, leading trad. He fell, every piece pulled.

Gear: You’ll need 20 quickdraws.
60 meter ropes. I highly recommend 2-60 meter ropes for the long mulitpich stuff.
DO NOT bring a 55 meter rope. All routes, all belays, all repel stations are set up
For 60 meter ropes. And even they are dangerously short on some of the routes.
HELMETS. Always wear a helmet at Potrero. Always wear a helmet at Potrero.
Always wear a helmet……get the point!!!???. Rockfall is common at
Potrero. I don’t mean climbers above kicking pebbles off. I mean big stuff
coming down, all by itself. Everyday you climb there, you’ll hear stuff
coming down and echoing thru the canyon. DO NOT climb under parties
doing long multipitch.
Bring all the gear you will need. There are no gear stores down there.
Pack your climbing shoes and harness in your carry on luggage. This way if your luggage is late or lost you will at least be able to climb on someone else’s rope and gear.

Getting there: Potrero is located approx. 30 miles northwest of Monterrey, Mexico, outside of a fair sized town, Hildago. Monterrey is a modern city with a nice airport.
Continental Airlines fly into Monterrey. Expect to pay between $500 and $ 600 for roundtrip airfare from the East Coast. Once you land at Monterrey, you can exchange your dollars for pesos at The American Express exchange bank right there in the airport.When we went, it was approximately 10 pesos for $1.00 US
You can rent a car at the airport, which I never did. You won’t need a car at Potrero.
Everything is walking distance. Rather get a cab to Potrero. The cab companies will be begging you as soon as they see you. Expect to pay between 450 to 500 pesos for the ride.($45.00 to $50.00 dollars) DO NOT pay more than that. Be firm. Simply tell the cab company “ Hildago, Potrero De Chico, por favor. I think they have dealt with enough American rock climbers to know that you are trying to get to Potrero. You may want to add “Alto pista” This means you want them to take the highway, which is quicker. That will cost you another 50 pesos (5 dollars) and is worth it.
You can also arrange cab pickup in advance depending on where you are staying.
More of that can be found in “Accommodations”
And: Believe me: I’ve jumped out of airplanes. I’ve climbed 2500 vertical feet.
But you want an adrenaline rush? Wait till you ride in a Mexican cab on the highway.
My advice, fasten your seatbelt and don’t look thru the windshield. YOU DON”T WANT TO KNOW.

Accommodations: You have lots to choose from. My first trip I stayed at El Rancho Cerro Gorrdo. I camped. My second trip I stayed at La Pagoda and got a room. I will list below all the website addresses. You can find out how much it will cost you before you go.
La Posada is very new and modern. It has T.V.!! Wow! And a laundry room.
La Pagoda is kind of old school and really nice….and cheap!
Homeros is the first and original place for climbers.
Rancho Cerro Gorrdo is really nice, I am boycotting it for personal reasons, that involve the partners who built it. It’s a very nice place to stay however.
Rancho Las Auroras is very nice as well. All of the above places have camping as well as rooms.
1. www.elpotrerochico.com/ (Homeros)
2. www.elpotrerochico.com.mx (La Posada)
3. www.quintalapagoda.com/home.htm (Lapagoda)
4. www.elpotrerochico.com.futuresite.register.com/wsn/page20.html (Ranch Las Auroras) always known as Checos.
5. Rancho El Gorrdo. This website is down. I’m sorry but I don’t know how to contact them.

Food: On both trips I took lots of instant oatmeal, coffee, trailmix and cliffbars with me.
The oatmeal and coffee was breakfast. Lunch at the crag was cliffbars, trailmix, and water. Dinner every evening is at Checos. Here you’ll get a home cooked meal and a drink for 30 pesos or less ($3.00)
Food supplies are available in the town of Hildago. Hildago is about 2 miles from the crag. There is a small grocery store right on the road to El Potrero near the town square.
Every Tuesday and Friday is Market Day. They close off blocks of the city and have an open air market. Here food is plentiful and cheap. Take a back pack with you. Food is pretty much sold in bulk, though I’m sure you can negotiate smaller quantities. Don’t miss market day. It’s fun, you’ll get some local culture and food is really cheap. You can also purchase gifts here for the folks back home. You can walk or hitchhike to town. Hitchhiking is a breeze. You’ll get a ride quickly.

Water: I drank the water at the Potrero. No problem. They have their own water supply there fed from a spring. All the campgrounds share this water supply. The water at and around the crag is safe. Can’t vouch for the town water however.

The People: I can’t say enough about the people of Hildago and the area. They are all, ALL, wonderful, friendly, helpful, and really great! These people are great!
I’ll warn you to watch the kids however. The kids when they are with adults are fine. When they are with their peers however they can be obnoxious and thieves. If you do long multipitch climbs take your packs up with you and hang them from a bolt at least 75 feet up. Otherwise the kids will help themselves. Kids may approach you in small groups.
They will ask to see your gear, cameras, etc. Ignore them. Anything you hand them they think you are giving them. It can be hard to get back!
Finally….ladies…..be aware. American women are considered fair game by Mexican men.
I have never heard of any problems with American ladies and the local guys, and I am not suggesting any danger. I will tell you, that as American women, you will get a great deal of attention from the local men. So be aware, travel in pairs or better yet with men.

Guidebooks: When you arrive go to Homeros or Rancho Gorrdo. Maybe even La Pasda.
Here you can purchase the latest edition guidebook for about 10 bucks. The guidebook is written and produced by Magic Ed and Tammi. All proceeds from the sale of this book go to bolting new routes and maintaining older ones. PLEASE SUPPORT ED AND TAMMI for without them and their years of hard work, El Potrero would not be what it is today. Finally…There is a book on the market called “Mexican Rock” Its $25.00. Until this book is updated don’t bother. It’s totally useless. You are far better off buying the book from Ed and Tami when you arrive.

Beta: You want route descriptions, personal journals and tons of great photos?
No problem!! Go to www.cliffmama.com When you log on click the side that says “cliff”. When that page opens click the index Potrero Chico Mexico. Enjoy!!
And don’t forget to sign Cliffmama’s guestbook!