Cataviña,La Mysteriosa-Baja Beauty Kevin Worrall Climbing 95

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 26, 2010 - 02:25pm PT
Kevin mentioned this excellent article recently on another Baja thread but it deserves its own. From Climbing August-September 1995.























Sure looks like some big, warm fun while the rain falls up here in Drizzletown!
go-B

climber
Revelation 7:12
Dec 26, 2010 - 04:24pm PT
photo not found
Missing photo ID#183593
From a 4X4 road trip to Baja, we passed by Cataviña in the late 1970's early 1980's, I called it, "Baja 500", FA?

We went to Bahia Tortugas and San Marcos, Scuba diving as well, never made it to Cabo like we planned, but had quite the trip!


Edit; The middle photo, there is a piece of loose flake on my lap that I pulled out of the crack on lead, I forgot about that!
Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Dec 26, 2010 - 04:35pm PT
I have been to Catavina. Passed through several times over a span of many decades.

And for the life of me I can't think of where all that nice looking rock comes from. I remember a first/top surface that was like sand. Joshua Tree without all the climbers.

Is this somewhere near the dip in the road, where it crosses the wet spot, where all the truck drivers take a sh#t and leave their toilet paper? A stripped truck half buried nearby from a obviously fatal accident? There were roads that take off from there, did one of them lead to that huge stone?




The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 26, 2010 - 04:43pm PT
Did you get your handle from that crack climb, gobee? Catavina cracks are pretty darn gritty. But there are some good ones hiding in those boulder piles.

Haven't seen this in a while - thanks for dredging another old story up, Steve!

The opening spread photo of Sean Myles (which is broken into two photos) was on the first roll I shot with a 20 mm which I was testing to possibly buy. I paid for the lens (and more) with that one photo! If that happened more often, I'd probably still be shooting climbing photos.

The Crystal Mountain Arete is an amazing miniature classic, lost in the far reaches of the boulderfield. I had maybe ten different photos of that ultra obscure route published due to its uniqueness, and dramatic position.


Probably real nice down there about now if it's gotten some of the early rain we have in San Diego. It's warmer than Josh, no rangers for hundreds of miles, and right up there with Josh for aesthetics.

You might actually wish there were rangers down there if things went wrong...

EDIT: just read your post Roxjox - all the climbing I've done is a mile or two north of the "wet spot" in the dip. Now there's a well marked cave painting pullout there. You have to know where to go to get the goods, or you've gotta wander for miles to find it in the maze of rock. Most all the best stuff is nearly drive up, actually, by following faint dirt roads which wander around the boulderfield.

The Corridor Arete in the opening photo is only 200 yds from the hwy. You can see it from your car as you drive on the NE side of the road. Right next to it is a route called Caught Inside which climbs the face out of The Corridor. Very sustained, slightly less than vertical, solid 5.12. Really good, and damn hard!

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 26, 2010 - 04:57pm PT
You have photos to go with all these tasty route names, right?!?
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 26, 2010 - 05:04pm PT
I shot a lot of photos in the course of doing the story, Steve.

All on film, and I have no scanner.



Sean Myles wrote a story in some British mag about his trip down there, and used photos which Climbing didn't. He was quite taken with the place, and the whole experience.

He found an amazingly perfect arrowhead on one of our hikes...

The place must have been covered with Native Americans at some point in history. It's a central point in an obvious cross-peninsula travel route.

Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Dec 26, 2010 - 05:08pm PT
In a place that is water scarce, it has (almost?) year round water. So it was likely a stop for anybody who lived in the area, perhaps in wetter times.



I drove a little on the eastern side of the road. Not to the west. My screwup...


I was always heading somewhere else, with the destination on my mind. Usually fishing or diving. It pays to keep an open schedule.


go-B

climber
Revelation 7:12
Dec 26, 2010 - 05:11pm PT
Cool photos Kev, and killer looking routes!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 26, 2010 - 05:13pm PT
Yes, year round water in Catavina, always at a spring just upstream from the other arroyo crossing just south of town.

And about ten miles west, there is a major spring and archaeological site in a drainage which snakes down to the Pacific at Puerto Mujeres. As you near the coast, the Arroyo floor is nearly solid midden for miles.

Some pretty special point breaks down that way...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 26, 2010 - 05:16pm PT
Get a scanner fella! They are cheap for something that allows you to save and share your memories! You have a deep slidebox and the clock is ticking on the really old shots. It becomes automatic once you tweak the results a bit!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 26, 2010 - 05:33pm PT
Rox -

It IS the (N)east side. I mistakenly wrote NW.
Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Dec 26, 2010 - 05:48pm PT
That makes more sense, I suppose. The rocks to the east are obvious.

That is one of the prettiest parts of the entire road south, and is about the only place actually ON the road that has the potential for being pretty. For ten or so miles, its actually nice and vegetated, although with desert vegetation. The old phone/telegraph line is fun to watch. All made up of twisted poles. Is that where the Boojum trees grow? Impossible cone shaped trees with almost no leaves or branches?



Now if you could just stop the truckers from messing there.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 26, 2010 - 05:53pm PT
The first boojums appear just south of El Rosario, and pretty much cover the peninsula to about 4,000 ft in elevation from there down. Except right along the coast.

There are loads of 40 - 50 footers around Catavina.

And the truckers don't stray far from the pavement.
Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Dec 27, 2010 - 08:09am PT
I dreamed last night of Catavina, and the fish restaurant in Guererro Negro.


This is a cool thread to create that dream.


TFPU.
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
Dec 27, 2010 - 08:42am PT
I remember this article. Very nice! Thanks for the post, Steve, and for the killer story and pics, Kevin.

The one shot of the Crystal Mountain Arete is beautiful, and that belay is heck-a-dynamic!
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Dec 27, 2010 - 08:46am PT
Kevin, isn't this also the place you found out about the aerodynamic characteristics of a levi jacket while wearing it? A funny story with a not so funny outcome if I remember right?
guyman

Trad climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 27, 2010 - 09:13am PT
Thx for posting this.......

I will add to the "endless road trip guide" I am making for my retirement.

living is cheap in baja.

drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Dec 27, 2010 - 10:27am PT
There's some buried treasure down there....

Kinda hard to get frothing surfers to stop there if gas isn't needed.
Punta Pequena or bust!
Best part of the (hwy) drive.

Thanks KW and SG!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 27, 2010 - 10:47am PT
Yes Pat, you have the gist of it.

The actual location was about 30 miles south, just north of the Bahia de Los Angeles road, near Rancho El Desengano. The jacket's label was Carhartt rather than Levi.

Strangely, a few minutes before I was launched into the air by an incredibly powerful wind gust, I had discovered the single most impressive cave painting I have seen in Baja Norte. Amazingly well preserved, and beautifully composed. And this was right at the winter solstice. I was tossed about 15 ft through the air after opening up my jacket, and broke my calcaneus on impact.

The fictional story I wrote to open the Catavina article is about an Indian brave named Viento (wind en espanol), and his actual return to our Catavina camp to check us out in the form of a rogue wind gust. On the winter solstice. I wrote the story 2 years before breaking my heel.

To top it off "el desengano" means the mishap!

You have to read the story to appreciate how unusual the circumstances are...


Edit: probably just a big coincidence...

all in jim

climber
Dec 27, 2010 - 12:18pm PT
That shot of the Crystal Mountain Arete is so cool! It has everything... the warm winter sun, a cool looking line, a great belay / sundeck, and a beautiful woman's butt (look at the rock behind the arete!)

Kevin, you should get a scanner if only to scan your incredible shot of Thomas Huber on the Salathe headwall, one of the best of all time.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Dec 27, 2010 - 02:11pm PT
This seems to be the location. Or at least pretty darn close. I think...

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=217892262123461097139.00048d147095f50172cbc&ll=29.753424,-114.744022&spn=0.008383,0.012982&t=h&z=16&lci=com.panoramio.all

Looks like a cool place!
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Dec 27, 2010 - 02:19pm PT
...and when your tips are fried,
just keep on truckin.





The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 27, 2010 - 04:12pm PT
Bluering,

It's a bit north of where you're link puts you, like a mile or two.


Is that The Wall Jefe?

There is some excellent climbing within a half hour of The Wall.
Klimmer

Mountain climber
San Diego
Dec 27, 2010 - 10:12pm PT
You guys are making me miss Baja.

How I miss Baja.

My bachelor's party was at Canon Tajo.

My children haven't even seen TJ yet.

I'm tired of staying out of Mexico because of the drug wars.

Great climbing, exploring, paragliding, surfing, diving and snorkeling, the list goes on and on.



I wish things would return to some normalcy down there. Well everywhere actually. The only real way to go now and to do so safely, is to go down in a large group or caravan. My wife and I used to drive all over the peninsula via my Toyota 4x4, just the 2 of us alone, and our equipment.

What is everyone's opinion on this concerning safety now in Baja and the frontera?
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 27, 2010 - 10:56pm PT
Safety wise, in the outback, either try to camp with others in a group, or hide your camp from any road, and hide your tire tracks to get there, if at all possible. This might sound extreme, but it gives you peace of mind.

Don't stop on the hwy for any reason other than emergency. Drive far enough down a side road so you can't be seen if you've gotta pee or eat something.

I don't worry much at all if I'm over 10 miles from the nearest town once I'm down below El Rosario, and off the paved road.

Don't stop to help mexican motorists flagging you down - let the Green Angels or their hermanos do that.

Avoid camping alone at spots where gringos often camp.


I've spent a lot of time down there, not so much lately, and I've heard some horror stories both second hand and directly - they all seem to have camping and a nearby population center in common.

Keep moving through the border towns. Knowing how to speak Spanish can make your trip safer too.

Juan Maderita

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 27, 2010 - 11:23pm PT
Klimmer,
This link provides the best answer on the safety of Mexico. Well, maybe just the funniest answer:
http://www.simplyvallarta.com/safety-of-mexico/

Otherwise, what Kevin said.
I'm at or near Cañón del Tajo a couple 1-2x per month and haven't heard of any robberies in several years.
Watusi

Social climber
Newport, OR
Dec 27, 2010 - 11:47pm PT
Checking this thread... I was always psyched to see that place Kev!! I'd been to the Trono countless times and saw this article, I was also intrigued by what my Hatchett brothers had said as well. Cool to see my old friend (and employer at The Kona Bar and Grill) George Hoover in these pics!! If you run into him ever will you tell him Michael Paul sends his best!! Still love to check that place...Mi corazon es en Baja!!! :)
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Dec 28, 2010 - 06:48am PT
San Juanico.

Drive fast. Don't stop. Engage cloaking device, bring dogs, don't exude fear, have fun.

Catavina is beautiful and unique in the world. All of Baja, really.

There was a (semi)recent article about bouldering there. A few diamonds in the rough~ a Caveman meets Hueco kinda affair.


Keep searching.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 28, 2010 - 08:51am PT
all those pinche point breaks look the same, Jefe - perfect!

Only went to Scorpion Bay once, and it was barley breaking at the time. I was shocked to see a guy there I had climbed with once in Yosemite over 10 years previously, and this was in 1981, before it got popular.

We kept driving, and got head high lefts at Conejo.
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Dec 29, 2010 - 12:28pm PT
Here's the video of the "Caveman meets Hueco" problem I mentioned.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzAT9TDnyfo
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Dec 29, 2010 - 12:33pm PT
That's a gnarly looking problem, Jefe. A mantle top-out to boot!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 29, 2010 - 01:21pm PT
Wow! Really impressive and beautiful problem.

If enough boulderers spent enough time in Catavina, and GPSed all the best stuff...

Tendon

Boulder climber
Fort Collins, CO
Dec 29, 2010 - 02:37pm PT
Thats the best boulder in catavina. very very atypical.
We looked around for 5 days over the course of that trip.
Saw thousands and thousands of boulders.
10% can be climbed on, 5% might actually be worth climbing on,
and less than 1% of those climbs are worth the drive down there.

Tons of rocks but lots and lots of choss....just go to Jtree IMO.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Dec 29, 2010 - 02:44pm PT
As I wrote in my article, to paraphrase, if 1 out of 10,000 boulders has a classic problem with a good landing, there should be about 1,000 good problems in the Catavina area.

I've probably spent 60 to 80 days exploring Catavina over a period of 30 years, and I don't begin to think I have seen it all.
Scole

Trad climber
San Diego
Jan 1, 2011 - 04:59pm PT
Credit: Scole
Credit: Scole
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 1, 2011 - 05:05pm PT
Ocotillo y quien sabe?
Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Jan 1, 2011 - 05:21pm PT
Warbler has good advice on how to survive the banditos. Don't be in sight of the road, hide your camp, don't tell anybody in town you are camping outside town. Especially at the gas station, store, restaurant or bar.

If you see something blocking the road, stop immediately and WAY before you get near it. DON'T creep up on it slowly without looking the scene over very closely, especially looking to see if the spot offers hiding places for others who might pop up once you are close. This ploy is used for ambushes, where an apparently dead animal or car is used to get you to stop, then you are suddenly surrounded, removed from your vehicle and then left on the side of the road as everything you own just drives away.


Park somewhere you are not easily hemmed in by a single vehicle, you may need to leave FAST. Keep most of your camp inside the vehicle, so you don't have to abandon anything you might want to stay and argue over. NOTHING is worth ANYTHING if it isn't inside the vehicle.


If you are somewhere lonely with a stoplight that doesn't change, run the light before letting somebody walk up to you. Especially if they seem to be angling up behind you in what might ordinarily be a blind spot. Have NO blind spots. I had a guy try and kill my VW once in a similar situation. I peeled out just as he reached for the engine lid.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 1, 2011 - 07:08pm PT
Es un Cardon, Esteban, el cactu mas alto de los desiertos de Baja California, a vezes creciendo a una altura de casi veinte metros.
Watusi

Social climber
Newport, OR
Jan 1, 2011 - 08:17pm PT
Yeah that's a pretty baddass looking problem! :)
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 1, 2011 - 08:30pm PT
That boulder is actually 40 ft tall, Mike
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 1, 2011 - 08:31pm PT
That boulder is actually 40 ft tall, Mike
Watusi

Social climber
Newport, OR
Jan 1, 2011 - 11:22pm PT
I've seen your awesome shot of this super arete Kevin, forgot the name but it looked 5 star!
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jan 2, 2011 - 08:39am PT
Thanks for posting this Steve. My family has a home just over the mountain on the Cortez side. I've long been aware of the climbing over there but never actually had the time, opportunity or partners wiling to stop and check it out.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
Jan 2, 2011 - 06:15pm PT
Catavina is truly beautiful....I think the blue palms are native only to that area of Mexico. One thing that was a little crazy while hiking, climbing around were the roaming cattle. Some had pretty good "racks". Kinda scary. :D
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 2, 2011 - 07:18pm PT
Lynne,

This is from Baja California Plant Field Guide by Norman C Roberts. A must have book for anybody interested in the natural penninsula:


Erythea (Brahea) Armata. Blue Fan Palm. Mexican blue Fan Palm. Palma Ceniza. Palma Azul.

...Endemic to BC, the Blue Fan Palm occurs on desert slopes, canyons and arroyos near water from San Ignacio north to Catavina....They continue north from Catavina on the eastern side of the divide into the Sierra Juarez at lower elevations almost to the international border.


There is an arroyo northeast of the main boulderfield in Catavina about 5miles east of the highway which is accessed by a little dirt road which is tricky to find. It dead ends where a narrow canyon flows out into the desert, and it's full of big Blue Palms. They are spread out all over the rocky terrain even hundreds of yards above the watercourse.

East of the town of Catavina, on the road to Mission santa Maria de Los Angeles are many arroyos winding deep into the rocky sierra packed with Mexican Blue Palms.

Most beautiful desert country. I brought a baby Blue Palm home from there that lives in my front yard.

WBraun

climber
Jan 2, 2011 - 07:24pm PT
The Warbler is one of the most inspiring person I ever known.

He can sniff out new routes even blindfolded.

I'm so lucky I've been around him and his incredible positive energy ....
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jan 2, 2011 - 07:37pm PT
Credit: justthemaid



Credit: justthemaid


You mean like this ^^^^ ;) palm grove? Hard to find. Random palms in the middle of Bum fuk Egypt- desert out near the mission east of Catavina?.

Extremely beautiful desert out there. Unique in the world. I love it.


Credit: justthemaid


Mr. E working a boulder problem at the "Oasis" as I call it.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 2, 2011 - 07:51pm PT
That looks really cool JTM, classic Baja!

And the rock looks great. The canyons which run down to the gulf on the east side of the penninsula's crest are loaded with palms. I believe one of those canyons was a favorite cross penninsula travel route for natives.

I took a long hike in Catavina based on my hunch and found what I believe to be the point where the old trail leaves the canyon on the west side and puts the walker on the desert plateau in Catavina.

You see those palm trunks burned like that in the most remote places, and sometimes a single tree among many will be the only burned one. It sounds crazy, but a local told me that bat or bird sh#t up inside the tree's skirt combined with high temperatures can initiate spontaneous combustion.

I think trees close to the road get torched by people for entertainment, myself.

Thanks Werner, some folks think my positive attitude is just me being delusional : )

Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
Jan 2, 2011 - 08:24pm PT
Thanks for the info K. Warbler :D

Say, have you, Maidy or anyone been to Bahia de Los Angeles? A great stop on the highway thru the Baja Penninsula.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jan 2, 2011 - 08:40pm PT
Lynne- The only time I was in Bahia De Los Angeles was when I was a little kid. Most of what I remember was 100 miles of pot holes on the main highway which totally destroyed the boat trailer. Pebble beaches, big hermit crabs and lots of wind.

It's probably much much changed since then.

Warbler- I always wondered what the deal was with the burned trunks. These trees are way out in the middle of nowhere. Not near any highway. You can actually get to the mission from this spot but I hear it is a bit of a trek. There's a well in the middle full of fresh water. We used to haul a small water truck up there and fill it to haul back to Gonzaga back in the day..
Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Jan 2, 2011 - 08:54pm PT
JTM, nothing of import has changed in Baja since you were a little girl. Well, the main road (only) IS better paved, but nobody has replaced the highway guardrails that were stolen and sold to the recycler about 30 years ago, just after they were installed. Everything else is about the same, except for satellite TV and the fees for the freeway just south of the border.







I give you another technique learned the hard way, you guys should pay me.



Take your car keys, and make duplicates of the door and ignition, enough to give to everyone who is in the car. On a separate ring.


You may have to do a fast escape, and YOU as the main man may have to fight a delaying or rearguard battle while the others pile in the car. Its far better if you can tell the others to get in the car and start it, being ready to drive off as you disengage, than trying to unlock the damn thing and get the wife inside while some bastard makes life difficult for you and yourn. That goes for friends, grandma, whoever.



If that sounds funny you just never been in the situation.

Do it.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 2, 2011 - 09:01pm PT
Well, if that's the arroyo below Santa Maria de Los Angeles, I've looked right down it from above. There are big pools of water in there and some good sized cliffs. The old Mission Trail comes up the canyon on the east side of the drainage and you can still see it although I'm sure it rarely is traveled these days.

The view I'm describing is from the very end of any semblance of road past the mission. It ends in a pass with petroglyphs on many of the small boulders, some appearing to be maps.

As I mention in my article, the road to the Mission is the worst road I have traveled in Baja. We barely made it out up the hillclimb.

You can park at the top of that hill and walk about a mile down to the Mission. There's an amazing deep swimming hole just up the arroyo at the bottom of the steep hillclimb.

And Roxjox's advice is good - I had my keys taken by a guy with a gun who claimed to be a federale. He and his buddy searched our car, and made me stand to the side, they had three mexican young men tied up in the back of their car. Don't know that an extra key would have gotten me out of the situation any better than I ultimately did, but...

Thinking about Blue Palms - The most impressive, purely Blue Palm grove I've seen was well north of Catavina, on the west side of the crest, at an oasis near Arroyo Grande, far up the drainage from El Rosario.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
Jan 2, 2011 - 09:52pm PT
Guess we were just lucky on our trip. No stops going from SD to Bahia de L.A. Just Federale stops by 16 year olds with machine guns on the way back to the U.S. They searched our van but didn't take anything and were polite.

The biggest buzz I experienced was in San Quentin. We were on the huge beach there pretty much by ourselves when @ 3 truck loads of field workers pulled up, the guys jumped out and relaxed on the beach and took baths in the sea.

Dan went to get some beer. While he was gone about a dozen guys came up to talk.....it was a bit scary until I realized they did just want to talk.....practice their English and find out about the States.

They gave us fresh clams they dug up on the beach which they cracked open and put hot sauce on and some of their fav music tapes. I still have them.

I'd love to go back down Highway 1 (is it ?) I think once you get past Ensenada it would be ok. Am I wrong?
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jan 2, 2011 - 09:59pm PT
Warbler: This might be the same arroyo you looked down on from above. You can access it from the east side. Some people use it as a jumping off point to hike up the steep drainage to the mission but I hear the hike is arduous and the old trail is so eroded it is difficult to find these days. Swimming hole is also accessible from here but I've never been to it or the mission. Both are definitely on the hit list.

There's a second well, closer to the ocean by Papa Fernandez's that was built by the missionaries in the 18th century that is also still in use. It is a lot farther away but was much easier to access with pack animals so it was the main water source for the missionaries. Must have taken a week to get down and back with water. Hard to imagine given the temperament of the warmer months down there.

Personally- I've never had any issues with bandits or federales. I did have a military guy kinda help himself to a couple of items during a search, but nothing of real value. A climbing partner of mine was rousted out of her campsite (near San Quintin) in the night and robbed at knife point, but they didn't hurt her physically. A (Baja/Gonzaga) neighbor had his truck stolen at gunpoint after a failed attempt to steal an airplane ended with them needing an escape vehicle. Never saw the truck again. I guess I've been lucky, but its been a lot of years since I've done any long road trips down there.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 2, 2011 - 10:04pm PT
My neighbor's grandson and his friend were robbed and murdered while camping along the beach south of El Socorro, which is a bit south of San Quintin, and north of El Rosario

And I've heard at least three other lesser horror stories about that area.

The last time I drove by there on the highway, there was a 4x8 sheet of plywood as a sign reading "Free Camping", in English, with an arrow pointing toward the beach.


Just don't stop Lynne around the cities, and don't camp where you can be seen from the hwy. Virtually every resident of Baja I've met have been good people, but like here, there are some bad ones.
Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Jan 2, 2011 - 10:50pm PT
I one time was stopped at a military checkpoint, and an officer just got in. He said I was going to take him back to the next town, and he was right.

You just don't argue sometimes.






Another time, must of been mid-summer 1977, I was doing a little LSD while driving on the other side. Me and my buddy had gone down south past the checkpoint until we began to argue for some reason. We had just left the OLD Hussangs quite drunk ( the old Hussangs was the bar featured in "From Dusk to Dawn" with the vampires) and had had some disagreement, including something about how I was looking into the mirrors there and shouldn't have been for safety reasons. ( I was tempting Bad Luck.) He wasn't handling the LSD quite as well as I was, I think. It kept getting worse as we kept drinking Tecate in the car and we decided to return that evening rather than hang together much longer. A shame, as we had done well together. Heading North past the same checkpoint, things deteriorated.

The checkpoint had stopped me and my climbing partner. (Who the hell was that? I can't remember.) We were both baked, and the officer at the checkpoint just reached in the window and stuck his hand inside my shirt and felt my heart. Which was probably racing. We had been doing about 75 through all the curvas peligrosas so the air cooled engine wouldn't overheat. The tires on the car made a lot of noise, but held tight in the 110 degree heat.

He made us stand by the side of the road and tied our hands behind us and began searching my white 62 Corvair. After a while it was obvious we weren't smuggling, and I wasn't worried all those guys were standing around looking for the half Z of airplane weed I had in my pocket (unless they themselves were dry), but a weird tableau began playing itself out.

As we watched, the wind would blow this one guys hat off, across a barb wire fence line. He would climb over the fence, using both hands, get his hat, and try to return. Once he was straddling the fence, the hat would blow off again, and he would have to go chase it again. This happened an unbelievable number of times, over and over, and I felt I was watching Nestor get spoofed by Mescalito or something. Everybody was laughing at him, and that wasn't helping his mood, either. As he began cussing the wind, the heat seemed to lift.

Us standing there looking like criminals with rope binding us must have helped the show. Tourists were slowing down, and saying sh#t like, "was we OK?" and they would "notify the American Embassy" (there is no American Embassy), then gunning their cars away. My buddy, my climbing partner from most of the previous entire season, who lived in San Diego, was really weird about the whole thing but holding it together pretty good over all, or so I thought.

Eventually they began to turn us loose, untied our hands and some kind of apology was offered, but I was too f*#ked up to really follow the Spanish very well. Behind the man was a old truck full of watermelons being checked, and the officers man had just stolen a melon. The officer said in Spanish that he hoped we weren't inconvenienced and that we should drive slower and safe on the bad curves, and if there was anything he could do, he would be obliged ...

I looked over his shoulder, and looking at the watermelon, I said, Pues, tengo sed (I was thirsty).


He actually took the watermelon from the other soldier and gave it to me!


We took the melon, thanked the man politely with the understanding we was even, and left. But about 10 miles later, my buddy, insisting that the watermelon was in some way evil, made me dump it in the desert. It had been STOLEN and he wanted NOTHING to do with it.

I will never understand why, but I did it. I threw the melon down and busted it. I hope the soldiers never saw it. They would never understand.





My little buddy, I ain't thought of him in decades. He looked 30 to me and was balding, but turned out to be about 19 or 20. His wife was a little cutie named Janet. HER name I remember...


((Edit: NOW I remember, It was JON! Jon what I can't recall, but I feel better now...))



Steve Gade

climber
Los Osos, CA
Jan 8, 2011 - 04:24pm PT
I have been driving through for years on my way down to surf. This area about 6 miles ESE of Catavina has always looked promising. Anybody ever poked around up here? I figure the entire ridge is around 1000ft tall.

I was not able to upload so here is a link to the picture

http://www.mountainproject.com/images/52/50/107005250_large_946a08.jpg
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 8, 2011 - 07:25pm PT
I've been out there. The road to Mission Santa Maria de Los Angeles heads out that way from the airstrip in Santa Ynez. We drove off that road and up a wash that runs up into those rocks. We were driving like 50 mph on pure white sand for what seemed like a couple of miles, weaving thru palm trees and boulders making fresh tracks.

Not mowing down brush or cactus, just a sand highway in the bottom of a windy rocky canyon. Way fun!

And then we scrambled way farther into the wild after driving as far as we could. The rock's mostly so-so, the place is fantastically beautiful. We never got back to the cleanest and biggest formations back in there, but vowed to go back with a light rack to do a line we saw.

The Mission is totally worth the drive too.
Double D

climber
Jan 8, 2011 - 11:27pm PT
Kevin my friend
..you rock!

Steve...thanks for posting. Great read.
Steve Gade

climber
Los Osos, CA
Jan 9, 2011 - 05:44pm PT
Here's the end of the same ridge. Thanks for the encouragement, Warbler. I'll have to sacrifice a few days of surf to broaden my horizons.
East of Catvina
East of Catvina
Credit: Steve Gade
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Jan 10, 2011 - 07:42pm PT
Baja bump
dave

climber
Earth
Jan 10, 2011 - 09:06pm PT
Well since were talking big Baja cliffs, how bout that stuff just south of Loreto on the west side of the 1? I dont have pictures but there is this long escarpment that looks to be 400-600', maybe taller, hard to tell. Its long maybe a km or 2 (its been 9 years so sizes and distances could be exagerrated)and probably the craziest rattle snake territory around. Looks like sand stone but hard to tell even with binos. quien sabes?
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 10, 2011 - 09:21pm PT
There are some fairly easy to get to crags in the bottom of the arroyos below those crags near Loreto. I believe it's all volcanic - no sandstone.

There's a real tight gorge up the drainage at the beginning of the hill climb on hwy 1 where it crosses from the gulf to Villa Insurgentes. Tried to get up there, but there was a gate saying propiedad privada.

Didn't have time to ask the local ranchers if they could work something out, but it looks interesting, and the road goes right to the start of the gorge. Check it on Google Earth. It's up the drainage from a big bridge.
dave

climber
Earth
Jan 11, 2011 - 05:23pm PT
Cool. Ya makes sense it would be Volcanic, but quite impressive looking. Im aware of this tight gorge on the way up the "pass" to ciudad insurgentes, never looked into it though always going surfing and well, thats a 1 track mind you know?

But I'll check it out on google earth, I'm re-interested, thanks!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 11, 2011 - 05:44pm PT
I've been stuck in the surf rut myself in the past. You can have the best session ever down there or you can get the "Baja blowjob" all day long at the beach.

Surfing and climbing compliment each other nicely.

I believe there's a top notch sportclimbing cliff band or three hidden down there not so far from the hwy which hasn't been discovered yet.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Jan 11, 2011 - 05:51pm PT
Uhhh, Steve Gade's pics looks to be promising....Holy!!!!!
dave

climber
Earth
Jan 11, 2011 - 06:09pm PT
How far up that drainage did you look? Looks to be a couple of cliffs not to far up that are N. Facing'ish.

Whats up with La Gigant, I wish those pics were clearer? Looks intriguing as well.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 11, 2011 - 08:59pm PT
We didn't get far from the hwy, maybe two miles, didn't get to the long snaky slot that cuts into those mountains, which is easy to see on Google Earth.

Where we stopped was a decent 40 ft steep cliff with pockets.

In my imagination that entire gorge is undercut, waterscoured, pocketed basalt for miles. Pools and palm groves too.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - May 7, 2011 - 01:23pm PT
Mysterious bumps on the landscape...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 3, 2011 - 11:26am PT
Hot Mysterious Bump...right about now!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jul 3, 2011 - 01:50pm PT
Catavina season is long past right about now. I have seen horrifying amounts of tiny black flies there this time of year - The Catavina Fly Festival in full swing

December through March is real nice, and just happens to be northwest swell season...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 21, 2012 - 10:20am PT
Fly Bump...
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jan 21, 2012 - 10:54am PT
Probably just starting to get good down there...
Scole

Trad climber
San Diego
Jan 22, 2012 - 09:15am PT
Kevin

April sounds good to me. Maybe a little late, but that's when I have the time.Ever check out the crags to the S.W.? It looks like some bigger stuff way off in the distance.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
Jan 22, 2012 - 10:11am PT
That "bigger stuff" is invariably crumbling shale death-cliffs. Meh.
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Feb 14, 2013 - 08:11pm PT
Bump!



Credit: drljefe
A ways south of Catavina, but Baja none the less.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 14, 2013 - 08:24pm PT
I know that spot jefe, we followed a little road all the way out to those peaks on the skyline. One was covered with white boulders, the other with dark, almost black boulders. Sean Myles noted it looked like two ancient armies about to do battle but turned to stone...


Always worth it to turn off the highway and follow your nose down there.
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Feb 14, 2013 - 08:31pm PT
cool.

If I'm correct, this is just a few miles into close to a hundred of dirt.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Feb 14, 2013 - 09:17pm PT
Haven't been down since Dan boy went to heaven. Just talking today with the guys were I work (Nomad's) and people are still saying how dangerous Mexico is right now.

Is It? If you get thru TJ and Ensenada would it be ok. Naturally you have to be aware as in years past. I miss Mexico.....
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 14, 2013 - 09:20pm PT
Word is it's still the same, as in the way it always was, only less gringos down there because of the rumors of which you speak.

Only one way to find out...
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