April 30, 2012

One-liner of the Day

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not too sure.


New Route Chronicles

I have a long list of new route possibilities–things I’ve been looking at for years–but this line jumped out at me just a few months ago and I’ve been chomping at the bit to get going on it.  I’m estimating it will go 14 or 15 pitches.

Tami and I will be staying here this year instead of going to Wisconsin and this will be the perfect Summer project since this wall stays in the shade every day until 1 pm.

The new route is going to follow the line pretty much straight up the middle of the photo

If all goes well the route will continue up the right-angling dihedral on the upper wall

Looking past the cactus up the first pitch

I’ve been stockpiling bolts, anchors  and static rope all Winter and I’m ready to go.

A porch full of gear

I’ll be using a 60 meter dynamic rope with the center well marked since I like to keep all pitches 100 feet or less and lots of static rope so I can leave fixed lines on the whole route.  Rope bags are essential when soloing.  I use 3 aiders and a pair of jumars.


Here’s my trusty 36 volt Hilti TE-10A, modified for drilling on  lead, with a battery pack (three 12 volt shop batteries) and 110 feet of heavy duty speaker wire.  The compact, roll-up solar panel allows me to keep the batteries on the wall without having to bring them down to re-charge.

Drilling rig and solar battery charger


I’ve got 15 sets of anchors and close to 200 bolts and hangers.

Anchor sets

Bolts and hangers

Big wall harness, chest harness, knee pads, soloist, gri-gri, atc, hooks, adjustable fi-fi hook.

Harness, belay devices, hooks etc.

Hooks and belay devices

I don’t know how much of this trad rack I’ll be using but it looks like I’ll be needing some wide stuff as well, hence the Big Bro and the Tetons.  Helmet, jumars and PAS daisy chains.

Trad gear, quickdraws, jumars, daisy chains, helmet

I’ll be using lots and lots of carabiners–never seem to have enough.


Last of all, the cleaning tools I use to remove cactus and other vegetation as well as any loose rock.  Also shown are the radios I’ll be using to stay in touch with my long-suffering wife and a portaledge which I may or may not be needing since there is a large natural ledge about 6 pitches up.

Gardening tools, radios, portaledge


Now for a progress report.

Sunday, April 22, 7pm–I carry the first load of gear up to the base of the route.  I time myself and it takes 20 minutes, going slowly with lots of rests.

My van down in the arroyo from the base of the route

Two loads of gear at the base of the route

Monday, April 23, 6am–I carry another big load then get everything ready and start up the first pitch only to hit my first snag.  I could tell right away that something was wrong when I drilled the first hole and by the second bolt my batteries crapped out.  I had charged them all night and they sounded fine when I tested them but it was obvious that these old batteries weren’t going to hold their charge.

Two bolts up on the first pitch

So I spend the afternoon driving into Monterrey to buy some new batteries.  Fortunately I find what I need at a new electronics store at the edge of town and I’m back quickly to get the new battery pack ready.

Tuesday, April 24, 6am–I get an early start and get the first pitch bolted.  Although the free climbing will probably be about 5.7 it was hard work bolting my way through all the large cactus.  I had a good time, though, and got to use my black tricam.

Black tricam

Like a dummy I forgot to bring any long slings so I had to get creative with my aiders…

Aider around block

Aider around flake

Thursday, April 26, 7am–I jumar up carrying the battery pack and another static rope then spend a couple hours cleaning all the cacus off the pitch.  There are a couple of good-sized blocks that will have to be trundled some day when my dogs aren’t hanging out below.

Gear at the first belay station

First pitch with cactus removed

Large pile of removed cactus at the base of the pitch

Saturday, April 28, 11am–I would have liked to go up early and keep bolting but I had another commitment this morning.  The forecast was for rain by evening, however, and I’d left my drill exposed so I carried up my lead rope, which I’d removed for the cleaning, and another pitch’s worth of bolts and miscellaneous gear for the wide crack above.  Then left everything battened down (I used a shower curtain, ha, ha) just in case the forecast was right.

Gear covered with shower curtain at first belay station

So…it took a week to bolt and clean one pitch–I’m right on schedule!!


Guest Photos

Here’s a few shots courtesy of Ilana Marcus who was here a couple of months ago.  Check out her web site at:



Topped out on Space Boyz (5.10d, 11 pitches)

P2 (5.10c) of Snot Girlz (5.10d, 7 pitches)

Jean on Sleepwalkin' (5.9+)

P6 (5.10d) of Off the Couch (5.10d, 7 pitches)

Looking up the crux pitch, P6, of Satori (5.10c, 7 pitches)


A Hike to the Old Mine

Last week I took the dogs for a hike up to the old mine on  the front side.  We only went as far as the lower end of the mine but we got some good photos and saw some interesting stuff, like a lot of unclimbed walls on the front side and the west end of the front side.

Nice view of the front side--the bottom half of the 2000 foot wall is blocked by the ridge in front of it

Unclimbed wall with huge scar

Interesting story.  One afternoon Matt Ruppel burst into Tami’s Cafe all excited because he had just been exploring and found a huge amazing wall with a continuous crack system running through it.  He tried to coax me into climbing it with him the next day but I managed to put him off with some excuse or another.  I was prolly not too interested because of the long, by Potrero standards, approach involved as well as knowing what Potrero cracks are really like.

A couple days later a cold front moved in and everything was socked in for a few days and when the weather cleared we saw that a huge portion of the wall near the top of the crack system had fallen off  leaving the visible scar.

Flowering Yuccas

The Yucca flowers are considered a gastronomical delicacy by the locals.

Looking North towards Potrero Grande


Chair at old mine

Check out this cool chunk of calcite we found at the mine:

Calcite 1

Calcite 2

Unclimbed walls at the West end of the front side

Close up view


Speaking of unclimbed rock, check this out:

 La Cueva del Oso

Mark Grundon and friends from Monterrey are developing a new area a couple hours South of the Potrero.  It is near Montemorelos and is called La Cueva del Oso (The Cave of the Bear).  Looks like it’s going to be an awesome area for those who like short, steep and hard.

Check out Mark’s blog at:  elpotrerochicoguides.blogspot.mx

La Cueva del Oso

Sunset at La Cueva del Oso


Mexican Folk Wisdom

Un hombre sin alegria no es bueno o no esta bueno.

A man without happiness is either not good or not well.


Parting Shot

I love the Potrero Chico. Photo Ilana Marcus collection





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