How Dat Get Dere?

An Interview – Exploring the work involved in establishing climbing routes

Sure we all love to climb and naturally have a general appreciation for the party that established the line we have such fond memories of sending. But have you ever wondered how those climbing routes got there? We took a second to chit chat with “Magic Ed”, one of the men responsible for a significant number of routes in the limestone sport climbing paradise of El Potrero Chico, Mexico.

Our Convo with “Magic Ed”…

Are routes in El Potrero Chico established from the ground up?

While most of the single pitch routes were put in top down by traversing over from the anchors on a previously established route, the majority of the muti-pitch routes (with a couple of exceptions) were put in ground up. A couple of guys are strong enough to free climb, hold onto a 5.11 crimp and drill and place a bolt but most of us are aid climbing, using hooks and the occasional piece of gear and an occasional free move.

A collection of Magic Ed’s gear used for establishing a new route

What is involved in putting up a route at the Potrero with respect to vegetation clearing, trundling, etc? There is a lot of vegetation on limestone and presumably this must be cleared while putting in a route. How does one do this?

On the way up I’ll use pruning shears to clip the sharp ends off the cactus so I can get through.  Once the pitch is bolted, I hang a static rope on it and spend a lot of time cleaning.  I use a crow bar, a pruning saw, a variety of gardening tools and brushes.  On the bottom pitches of Yankee Clipper the roots from the cactus were so thick I used a blow torch and burned them out.  Of course, it’s also important to close the area being cleaned, including having people below with radios keeping onlookers away.

A collection of removed cactus at base of new route

How is funding raised for future bolting in the Potrero? Where can donations be directed to?

I raise $ for bolting new routes through the sale of my guidebook and with the airport shuttle. Climbers will also often donate bolts and hangers or extra $. I’m going to be adding a paypal button to my website for donations.

For more information on donating some of that hard earned beer money to bolting at El Potrero Chico, please swing on over to Magic Ed’s website.

Interested in reading more about climbing in El Potrero Chico? Check out our detailed trip reports outlining selected ‘classics’ as well as our How-To-Travel-Guide with everything you need to know to get your butt on over to El Potrero Chico.

Article by

Ilana is a native of Southern California. She is an accomplished rock and ice climber and runs Thrillseekers Anonymous. She volunteers as a medical technician (EMT) and works as a climbing guide when she is not out leading her own adventures. She has been featured in various media outlets including the 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 78 articles for Thrillseekers Anonymous.

Subscribe to feed via RSS or EMAIL to receive updates.

There are currently comment(s)…add one