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Hitting a High Note in Potrero Chico

A first-timer’s impression of Mexico’s crown jewel of climbing

What’s a professional snowboarder doing in a small climbing town in Mexico? Turns out, when you’re not competing in the X Games and the snow’s all melted, you need another hobby. For Aaron Biittner, that hobby is climbing, which he started to get into seriously about a decade ago. Recently, he took his first international climbing trip to El Potrero Chico in Mexico. EPC—as it’s also known—is home to endless sport routes on high-quality limestone with excellent protection. Here’s Biittner’s report on the rocks.

Traveling to Potrero Chico was straightforward. From the General Mariano Escobedo International Airport (MTY), it only takes about 90 minutes to get to this remote mountain town, and catching a taxi from the airport is easy. We chose to rent a car, which was just $140 for a week.

We stayed at the iconic La Posado, a campground and guesthouse with its own little restaurant that’s just five minutes from the crags. It’s refreshing to travel to a place that’s low-key with a strong local culture.

The climbing at EPC offers endless options for Type 1 fun. It has everything from overhung limestone to multi-pitch epics. We started at the Los Lobos wall, and one of my favorites here in the multi-pitch epic category was Will the Wolf Survive? (5.10a, four pitches). Huge views and a thought-provoking route.

The next climb we set our sights on was Dead Man Walking (5.9) in the Dihedrals area. This is a Potrero Chico classic, featuring two adjacent cracks on either side of the climb. Nothing like giving the rock a hug with double hand jams.

To give our hands a rest, we took a day trip to Hidalgo. We stopped at El Búho Café, a little coffee shop that was opened by American climbers and has become the perfect place to get beta on the best climbing spots from climbers all over the world. To cool off, we also checked out Paletería, a popsicle shop with an excellent selection of Mexican candy.

After a few days in Potrero Chico, we finally felt like we were getting the hang of the area, so we got bold and ended on a high note. There’s nothing like a night rappel to make you feel alive, and that’s exactly how we got down the four pitches we climbed of the 12-pitch Estrellita (5.10+).

With over 570 climbs to choose from—including a 5.14 cave if you’re up for that—I know this isn’t adiós to EPC for good.  

 

Aaron tested out the Backcountry Climb Collection on the limestone at Potrero Chico.