El Potrero Chico

Terry and Vikki, together with Everett and Lucille from Canmore (Canada) met up to climb in El Potrero Chico near Monterrey in Mexico at the end of November, a time when the weather is particularly amenable to rock climbing around there.


Terry and Everett take trip to the desert, not far from Hidalgo, the base town for El Potrereo Chico.

El Potrero Chico, the entrance to the canyon.

Lucille leads it out on ‘Flamingo Wall’ 5.8, Virgin Canyon

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Terry on top pitch ‘Spire’, 5.9, more Dolomite crack climbing with a few kicks in the teeth. Back drop from the Spire, looking at the 2200ft walls and ridges on the opposite side canyon.

Spartan surroundings at Checo’s but at about £3 for the meal, wine and all the beer I could drink who cares? Did I hear Ian rushing out to buy his ticket?

Vikki lowers off ‘El Cacharro’ one of the only three 5.7s in the Canyon, Los Lobos Wall.

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The impressive ‘Outrage Wall’ – Didn’t climb on this! All 5.12+ Climbers on ‘Space Boyz’, on Jungle Wall, big wall climbing at 1000ft 5.10d

Everett on ‘Popsicle Kings’, 5.10b, Surf Board Wall

Terry on ‘A Gringo Ate My Baby’, 5.9-, Cat Wall

Texan climber, Dane Bass, activist of El Potrero Chico and Guidebook writer, and his Dog, ‘Doof’

Dane has put up hundreds of routes in the gorge, many at the top grades. But, more importantly, Dane has put up many easier routes in a gorge that contained little bellow 5.11 until 2000.

14 thoughts on “El Potrero Chico”

  1. Mexico looks amazing Terry! Especially like the look of that ‘Space Boyz’ – I like long routes! 😉
    Can’t wait to get an opportunity to get out there… 😛

    You ain’t kidding when you say “Spartan surroundings at Checo’s” either, I’m wondering if there are bandits hiding behind that blue tarpaulin ready to shoot you and stash the bodies in the big fridge??? 😯

  2. Yeah, Mexico was a steep learning curve. We did quite a lot in the time but now I’ve got dozens more ideas and can’t wait to return. Some of the routes are well over 20 pitches bolted. That’s longer than Chinaman’s in Canmore.

    And the people are so friendly. Even the policemen waved to us, as they cruised up and down the gorge.Such a contrast of the old and new as well – ultimate internet & paypal, for example, contrasted against the scabby dogs wandering the streets and the shanty towns in the desert.

  3. Hey Terry, you neglected to mention the floor show at Checo’s — a large black widow spider that the restaurant owner played with for a while and then stepped on ❗

  4. Dear Terry,
    I am truly envious, would love to be able to climb there but suspect at 81 with two artificial knees I must be satisfied with the UK, Dolomites and Spain. Maybe in my second tenure of this world sometime!

  5. We are planning a trip next month, Jan 22-31… only a week but it’s the only thing that fits our schedule. I’m so excited… and working out hard to be ready for the LONG routes. We are used to much shorter here in the Black Hills, SD. Anyone planning a trip for next month?
    tara :star:

  6. Tara,

    When Lucille and I lived in Winnipeg (’72-’97) we made quite a few trips to the Black Hills of SD. You’ll find the climbing at Potrero Chico to be much more varied than the Black Hills granite you’re used to. PC limestone is much more featured; as I recall, Black Hills routes are mostly face climbing; at PC you’ll have to deal with jamming, mantleshelfing, and pulling down on (very!) sharp-edged pockets.

    Have fun!


  7. Everett,
    Thanks for the info. I appreciate it.

    Climbing in the hills is pretty varied. We have several big limestone cliffs in the Spearfish Canyon, Dark Canyon, Falling Rock & Cliffs of Dune areas. Then, around Mt. Rushmore there is a ton of Granite ranging from hundreds of spires to cracks and fins and nice face climbs. There is a lot of trad climbing here, but it’s also a nice place to learn because there are well protected routes, both sport and trad. But, if you like steep and scary, we have plenty of that too.

    I would say, if you are coming here to climb, get hooked up with a local climber. The local climbers are always very happy to take you around, and they are fun and friendly. I would say, some of the best stuff here IS NOT in guide books.

    We can actually climb here every month of the year due to some good south facing limestone – if it’s 45 degrees, it’s more than climbable… best though, is spring and early summer and fall. In the unbearable heat months, all you have to do is get a little higher and when it’s 108 in town, it’s still nice enough in the higher hills to climb. We have some places that see little sun.
    Let me know if you have any other questions. And, if you ever come, let me know I could easily give you some nice – central – places to stay (I live right in the heart of the hills and have cabins) – and always like the opportunity to share some awesome climbing with visitors.


  8. Thanks again Tara 😀

    Please feel free to post on our blog about your local mountains. We love to hear about other places and do quite well at visiting them (see Pete’s blog re. Red Rocks, from where he is just returning) 😥

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