Saturday, April 18, 2015

Civilized Climbing at Potrero Chico

One more try on the crux of Habanero, 5.12b, in Mexican limestone paradise.

So this makes sense: I flew a thousand miles across the Mexican border to camp in a tent in the rain, and it was the most civilized climbing trip of my life. I must be either homeless, have really bad luck…or I’m a trad climber.

Day 3, I groggily awoke in the soggy tent, slipped on sandals as Andrew kept slumbering, and greeted the morning fog as I strolled leisurely to the kitchen at La Posada campground where a stocked fridge and pantry lay in wait. The night’s rain would take some time to dry from the cliffs, so I enjoyed the homey rituals of making coffee and toast while exchanging pleasantries with other guests. I had a sip and a nibble while reading my book (when’s the last time I read a book?) and when Andrew arrived we cooked up a killer breakfast of tacos with fresh mango and cilantro garnish, then after a stretch grabbed our rope and draws and strolled up to the crag for a lovely afternoon of sport climbing.

As we ambled back to the campground that evening, our arms a bit pumped but still limber and light of foot, it occurred to me that this climbing trip was really unlike any other I’d been on, and not just because I was in Mexico…it was because we were sport climbing! I’m so used to returning to camp sore and weary, it was refreshing to just walk back on a pleasant evening.

Ever since I fell in love with vertical adventure I’ve bent my life around getting out in wild places where we could wake up before dawn, bushwack to some monstrous cliff, spend all day thrutching up it in a perpetual state of moderate terror, then descend in the dark and bumble back through the night to a primitive camp where we’d refuel the tank and crash out for another burn the next day. It was all about the type-2 fun. It was TRAD! It was RAD! And scary, exhausting, and has caused more soul-searching than I may have been looking for some days. Of course, that was usually the point.

It wasn’t until this trip to Potrero Chico that I realized how civilized sport climbing can be. We slept in, enjoyed great meals of fresh local produce, and were always home for supper. We enjoyed high-quality steep limestone every day, and rarely had to worry about a fall.

air time

Of course, we couldn’t resist taking a run up the Time Wave Zero, a unique route of 23 bolted pitches to the top of a 2,200 foot tall fin of limestone. (Much thanks to the people who dragged all those bolts up there.) The route consists of mostly moderate climbing, so linking 60 meter pitches one after another as we climbed higher into the sky left us grinning from ear to ear. We did need to wake up kinda early for that one—dawn in fact, but after enjoying the views from the summit we simul-rapped 23 rappels, chugged the water we’d cached at the base, and strolled back into camp for dinner.

I’ll always be a trad climber at heart—my blessing or curse—but during a hard semester of grad school, I think I’m learning to appreciate the simple pleasure of a sport climbing trip.   

 Farmers market

These gorditas are so good. Fried thick corn tortillas stuffed with spicy shredded pork, what more can you ask for?

Tool, duct tape, and N64 game cartriges. Should I have been surprised?

Community bingo with bottle caps as tokens.

Andrew approaches the Bronco Cave

David Fay rides the Celestial Omnibus 5.12a

And we didn't even need to bring Tecate...turns out they have plenty down there! Until next time, Viva Mexico!