Monday, March 06, 2006

Mexico Part3


fraile oeste
During our extended stay here three years ago, we occasionally made forays into the trail-less mountain wilderness that contains the high peaks of the desert. Several summits were attained, but the experience was so painful a couple of months would pass before one would get the desire to do it again. This time around, our trip would have felt incomplete if we hadn’t climbed at least one peak.

We chose El Toro, the mountain that towers immediately above the campgrounds and sports a 900m vertical north face. Its backside is more benign: although it has climbing routes up to 26 pitches long, there exists one way one may reach the summit by scrambling. A new trail that misses the summit but attains the nearly horizontal knife edge ridge that leads back to it allowed us to ascend most of the vertical distance without doing battle with too much cactus. We grabbed a rest straddling the ridge; the real business of the ascent was now close at hand.

It turned out okay, although as expected the rock was treacherously crumbly, the optimal route difficult to find and cactus was everywhere. A crux section was passed chimneying against a palm tree, and holds were triple-checked before body weight was committed to them. After one last move Leanne emerges from the steep section. Only a short section of precarious ridge leads to the rather anticlimactic summit.
The GPS read 1510m, about 20 meters higher than previously gleaned from a topographical map. In any case it’s 850m above the campgrounds and cottages spreading out below the precipitous north face. A limestone mine, soon to be reactivated, will supply the cement factory when it reopens this spring. Explosions will once again rock the peaks, and gung-ho climbers will no longer need alarm clocks to get an early start at the cliffs.
Equally carefully, Pedrissimo and Leanne begin the descent back down the knife-edge. The 2140m tall Cerro La Palmitosa with its massive east face (sporting only one unfinished climbing route) forms a spectacular backdrop. This mountain can also be climbed mexicaneering style, for unsurpassed views of the desert stretching out into the infinite west.
Carefully reversing our route (it is impossible to see the way from above, so we navigate through the rocky labyrinth by looking at pictures taken on the way up with our digital camera), we finally reach the trail, which will take us safely down. Leanne is triumphant as she balances down the last few meters of the knife-edge. Later that afternoon Leanne and I crank out a few more 5.12’s at the cliffs, though Pedrissimo, unused to Mexican hiking, crashes out for the rest of the afternoon in his tent.


  • Crashes in his tent! i left you fools and sent hard at Culo de Gato!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:07 am  

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