Cataviņa,La Mysteriosa-Baja Beauty Kevin Worrall Climbing 95

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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
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