Potrero Love Letters Vol. 2

El Potrero Chico, Mexico - Volume Two. Climbing tales from El Potrero Chico, the limestone climber’s multi-pitch mecca.

Rest day two has crept up on us already and with temperatures approaching 34C today, we don’t mind being force-fed a pool lounging day at La Posada. Truth be told, the pool may be our only means to bathe as it appears the water is not functioning in the women’s bathroom.

We are basking in the glory of another two days of stellar climbing in the Potrero and have learned a valuable lesson for our two days to come – the word “classic” when used to describe a route tends to equate to exciting bolting. With this valuable lesson learned, we are recharging our cajones on this well-earned rest day.

CLIMBING DAY THREE: SPACE BOYZ (5.10d)

Space Boyz (5.10d, 11 pitches) - El Potrero Chico

Base of Space Boyz

An El Potrero “classic” that summits the first bolted gendarme in the Potrero. This was the first bolting experience for these guys and they bolted only on weekends over the course of a year. The ratings held very true to the grade and Space Boyz served up the crux smack dab in the middle of the climb on P6, kindly offering a 5 pitch warm up and 5 pitch cool down.

Space Boyz (5.10d, 11 pitches, 1,000′)

  • P1/P2 – 5.8/5.9 (linked). Dance up the face of the black and white streaked wall. Balancey moves and technical for the grade.
  • P3/P4 – 5.9+/5.9 (linked). More or less similar climbing to the first two pitches.
  • P5 – 5.10. Gain position to an exposed ledge
  • P6 – 5.10d, exposed moves into a right facing corner. Beautiful position.
  • P7 – 5.10c/d Climb the right facing dihedral or make moves up the face, your choice. We opted for the crack naturally
  • P8 – 5.9
  • P9/P10 – 5.10a/5.9 (linked) Stem master Jean’s favorite. Exposed and fun moves to negotiate a roof.
  • P11 – 5.9, wild off width with a featured face. Many ways to climb this pitch, pick your adventure but be mindful of loose rock.

P3/P4 (5.9+/5.9) of Space Boyz - El Potrero Chico

P3/P4 (5.9+/5.9) – Space Boyz

P6 (5.10d) of Space Boyz - El Potrero Chico

P6 (5.10d) – Space Boyz

P6 (5.10d) of Space Boyz - El Potrero Chico

P6 (5.10d) – Space Boyz

Looking to the top out on Space Boyz (5.10d, 11 pitches) - El Potrero Chico

Looking Up (P11) – Space Boyz

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

Topped out on Space Boyz – Nice View!

CLIMBING DAY FOUR: SNOT GIRLZ’ (5.10d)

Another Potrero “classic”. A beautiful line up an obvious crack system. This climb gets right down to business with the party all up in front, P1 was the money pitch and P2 was not exactly a party pooper. Snot Girlz’ gave us brilliant climbing and felt true to its grade, leaving us all smiles.

Snot Girlz (5.10c, 7 pitches) - El Potrero Chico

Base of Snot Girlz

Snot Girlz (5.10c, 7 pitches) Route Profile - El Potrero Chico

Route Profile – Snot Girlz

Snot Girlz’ (5.10d, 7 pitches, 700′)

  • P1 – 5.10d, starts on a face to the left of the crack and quickly moves into the crack. The mental crux may be more daunting than the physical crux, as you make moves well above 2 body lengths from your last bolt with another body length to go before your next.
  • P2 – 5.10c/d, continue up the crack and enjoy an assortment of holds – side pulls, crimps, slopers, hand jams, pockets, underclings.
  • P3/P4 – 5.10/5.9 (linked), dancing up the rock, move right, left, right, left (in no particular order).
  • P5 – 5.9 (Jean led), amazing position for the grade! An airy traverse up a blocky ledge with a breathtaking view of the Potrero.
  • P6/P7 – 5.9/5.9 (linked), pull moves up a face wandering right and then enter a perfect hand crack leading to summit.
The only downfall to this route is its location in relation to the most popular wall in the Potrero – The Mota Wall. There is a fair amount of loose garbage along the rap line and extreme caution must be taken not to dislodge anything with your feet, as it would come tumbling down onto the very popular single pitches and climbers along the base. Read: Extreme Danger!
P2 (5.10c) of Snot Girlz (5.10d, 7 pitches)

P2 (5.10c) – Snot Girlz

We are hopeful that the temperatures start to back off for our final two days of climbing at the Potrero. We discovered yesterday that climbing in the blazing sun is like standing in front of a firing squad with bad aim. It is slow and painful and really sucks the life out of you. With the assumption being that it will be intemperate tomorrow, we are planning an early start right when the roosters start cock a doodle doing. We hope to get on Satori (5.10c, 7 pitches) and perhaps the adjacent line that shares the first two pitches of Satori, Off the Couch (5.10d, 7 pitches). We have yet to settle on any given route for our final day of climbing, but we are sure it will be a “classic” not shy of epic.

Until we chat again…

Location: El Potrero Chico – Hidalgo, Mexico

Article by

Ilana is a native of Southern California. She is an accomplished rock and ice climber and is the brains behind Thrillseekers Anonymous. Currently residing in Colorado, she is a Registered Surgical/Trauma Nurse, who can be found leading her own adventures on days off. Ilana is a sponsored athlete with GoMacro, WoolX, and an Arcteryx Denver ambassador. She has been featured in various media outlets including the February 2015 issue of ‘Climbing’ magazine, December 2013 issue of ‘Rock and Ice’ magazine, December/January 2013 issue of ‘Gripped Climbing’ magazine, Canyoneering: A Guide to Techniques for Wet and Dry Canyons (How To Climb Series) by Dave Black and Pasadena Magazine as well as a Climbing Expert on MTV’s Parental Control (Season 7 – “Heather”).

Ilana has written 110 articles for Thrillseekers Anonymous.

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