Kathy and Mark's vacation in Potrero Chico, Mexico • February 15-26, 2005

We took a busman's holiday and spent about 10 days in Potrero Chico, a fun rock climbing locale near the Mexican city of Monterrey, just southeast of the southern tip of Texas. This was our first visit to Potrero and we had a blast.

For the first few days we were joined by Mark's rock-star sister Penelope Houston. She is much better known for her musical accomplishments than her climbing skills, but she did join us on a few steep pitches. You should check out her web site at penelope.net.

We had a few days of rain, but this gave us good excuses to check out Monterrey, as well as some very pleasant hot spring about an hour's drive north from Hidalgo, where we stayed. We owe a "thanks" to Ian, from Albuquerque for driving us to this rather remote location.

Other Recent Trips

Kathy on our Aviacsa flight to Monterrey. Our flight, Monterrey airport pickup and transfer to Hidalgo went smoothly.


Sunset from the Monterrey airport. When we arrived temperatures where much higher than normal, well into the 80's F. There are lots of mountains around Monterrey, and here, the sun sets over those to the west.


We stayed at the Posada, a very pleasant place with about 10 rooms for rent with lots of room for camping. They have a great communal kitchen area and a restaurant open in the evenings. This photos was taken on our first morning, looking up at Potrero.


Potrero Chico is a minor tourist attraction with a big pool and picnic complex at the narrow part of the canyon. In the winter the complex is closed, but looks like a nice place to take the family in the hot summer months.


The geology of the area is quite interesting. The entire area around Monterrey was once a great seabed, now turned to deep limestone deposits. Folding of the strata followed tipping many of the horizontal beds on end. One big fold formed a synclinal mountain, who more shattered interior rock was eroded away, leaving a giant crater. The "crater" has an outlet through the narrow gap of the Potrero.

In this photo we are looking up at the rock towers on the east side of the gap.


Looking north at the pool and picnic complex. The Posada, where we stayed, is just past the point where the road disappears in the distance.


On our first day we climbing in the Virgin Canyon area, just above the pool complex. Because of the large amount on vegetation on the cliffs, routes must be thoroughly cleaned and putting up a route is a huge amount of work, not to mention a big financial commitment in the form of bolts and hangers.

Here Penelope climbs on "Cats Meow" great 5.8 route.


Looking into the gap from near Buzz Rock.


Sharp rock and sharp spines. The rock is very fun to climb on, rough, good friction, with all sorts of surprise holds where you might least expect them.


On our second day, it rained. So we went to some hot springs about an hour's drive NW of Hidalgo. Unfortunately I did not bring my camera on this day

The next day, it continued raining, so we took the bus into Monterrey to have a look at the city. This is the big monument (to what?) in the center of town. I think this might be the Capilla de los Dulces Nombres.


The very nearby Catedral.


The Fuente de Neptuno o de la Vida, also in the center of town.


I enjoyed all the bring colored paint and unusual "sculpture".


A roadside stand selling steamed corn, fresh off the cob, with all the "trimmings". Penelope and Kathy experiment a bit.


Yum yum!


The weather cleared again, and we took a day at the Mota Wall area, a fun place for both short and multi-pitch routes.

Most of the climbs are on the lean rock on the lower right. But we also did a 6-pitch route (Dope Ninja, 5.10b/c) which follows the ridge to the "Snot Girlz" tower.


Kathy on the first 5.10 pitch of Dope Ninja.


On one of our days, we went up to a climb called Satori, a bit more remote from the most popular areas. This is a fun climb, about 7 pitches long with the hardest pitch about 5.10c.


Kathy hiking back to the valley after our climb of Satori.


A view of the "Spires". These are two popular objectives that we never got on. Yet another reason to return.


One of the more popular longer and more moderate routes is Estrellita, which we did early on a hot day. Starting early we managed to get up the route before the sun got to it. The climb has three pitches rated 5.10b, but has a relaxed, not too serious feel.


Another view of Estrellita. The descent off the back side includes about 5 steep, rope stretching rappels.


The "Jungle Wall" as seen from near the Mota Wall. On our second to last day we climbed Space Boyz, a Potrero classic. The route follows the widest swath seen here in some eleven pitches.


Climbers on the first couple pitches of Space Boyz. This route starts with about 4 pitches of 5.9 or so, then a few steeper sections, with a challenging 5.10d pitch and a sneaky 5.10b pitch before easing again on the upper part.

On our last day, we climbed another great route, the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, a seven pitch 5.10c route with great bucket pulling and crack climbing.


A flower just outside out hotel room.

We'll be back.

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