El Gran Trono Blanco


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Dec 12, 2007 - 03:17pm PT
Travelin, cool. That place sounds like it has all the goods for adventure from just getting info to, I'm sure, even getting home. Hopefully I'll get there sometime.
The only climbing I've done in Baja is up in the San Pedto Martir. Picacho del Diablo a couple of different ways. Noting the Pinnacle Ridge as an awsome adventure, especially if one likes to run around and scramble for miles in the high country. Where else does a person get to climb on splendid white granite all day while catching views of both the Pacific and Sea of Cortez? Mas sur en Las Lagunas?
Wish I had some pics to post of that traverse!
Bob J.

Trad climber
Dec 12, 2007 - 05:13pm PT
I think the best part about the experience down at El Gran Trono Blanco was the excitement of 'exploring'. I think not having the guide book added to the experience of:

"hey, that line looks great,I wonder what's it like? Lets hop on it"

It really did feel like we were adventuring up 'unexplored' routes. I think having a guide book would have taken that sense of adventurism / exploration away.

To be honest, it's one of the few places where I really felt like a kid, with all the exploring of the caves in the slot canyons, natural lines, and the seeing the view from the highest point the area, it's just wow.

Not having a guide book, shady hand drawn directions, word of mouth, rumours of the place adds to that sense to adventure, that lore, that excitment, and honestly, and I think others might agree, wouldn't want it any other way for such a spectacular place!

So I say keep the place an 'enigma'let others experience the same sense of adventure and excitment that previous goers have felt before.


Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Dec 12, 2007 - 06:35pm PT
Hey folks,

Let me know, if the consensus is to pull the maps I posted, I'll do so before the "Supertopo Edit Countdown" is up.

Watusi, I'd respect your opinion on this, since you're the coolest local I know down that way...


Trad climber
San Diego CA
Dec 12, 2007 - 08:19pm PT
The 'locals' I referred to are the Gringos who developed the routes. Curly, as mentioned, Werner L. comes to mind, probably pissin' people off already 'cause there are many others.

The only real reason for sparse web info is that those guys are
f#$kin dinosaurs!

Juan Maderita was a prolific archivist, I advise attaching you're lips firmly to his butt.

Once the camp is found, you could find lots of stuff just walking and looking for bolts and cracks. Like Josh, the rock changes greatly with different exposures.

Hey Mike, nice shorts, whatchya doin' later...?


Social climber
Newport, OR
Dec 12, 2007 - 11:54pm PT
Hey Roy!! Those are some cool pics of us on the FA of "Wall of Voodoo" I had originally compiled hundreds of topos and even some great aerial shots courtesy of Brian Rennie, in hopes of publishing a guide in the late '80's...But for the sake of my SD compatriots elected not to. But I had given folks xerox or hand written topos for decades. John imho I think it's cool that you gave some beta, I think the place is great and people are gonna get there no matter how hard some try to prevent this. I really don't think it will ever be overrun due to it's remoteness...Peace, Michael Paul.

ps, Brad how 'bout those frikken' running shorts I used to wear in the early '80's? What a wank...

Trad climber
San Diego CA
Dec 13, 2007 - 12:11am PT
If ya got 'em, flaunt 'em. BH

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Dec 13, 2007 - 01:52am PT
anyone remember the "disraeli gears" topos that were stashed in that cream album cover?

good times, back in the day.
Juan Maderita

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 13, 2007 - 05:05am PT
My preference would be to pull the maps. I'm not overly concerned about what you posted, because much has changed over time. There would still be some adventure in finding base camp. Perhaps sharing that info, solely upon request, would be a more conservative option. What we put here is effectively published.

Dan Curley had a good 17 year run. His "retirement" in '93(?) was almost the end of an era. We did about 150 FA's together. Chuck Berry dropped out around the same time. I kept on with numerous partners and sometimes solo for another ten years. Now I just do a couple new routes per year so I don't forget how to climb! Werner L. made a "comeback tour" with a few routes and hangs at his nearby rancho. Now and then we ride horses to base camp. Alex (Alejandro G.) grew up and got married, but still puts up a few routes for the Mexican flag.
Bob Ollerton made an appearance in recent years to replace the aging bolts on his FAs. John V. made an encore with a couple new routes.

Props for forgoing the publishing. As a result, there remains wild adventure to be had by those willing to explore.

What's the story on the Disraeli Gears topos? I hope they weren't written on Zig Zags!

All vistors,
Please note that the area is on private property. Through the good graces of the landowners/ejido, we are allowed to visit and enjoy without restriction, fences or gates. We have been responsible stewards of the land and respectful toward the local ranchers. Let's keep it that way.

Social climber
Newport, OR
Dec 13, 2007 - 08:05pm PT
Hey John S., Yeah I didn't want to create a bone of contention with all my SD mates. Plus any map is probably outdated...I'd give certain friends a map but on returning they said something had changed. Always does, I'm with you however on trying to keep that place as nice as possible. Maybe you're right about only giving info. personally? Cheers, MP.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Dec 13, 2007 - 08:15pm PT
Wow. I'm surprised that people are actually permitting this vault to be opened.

I had topos for Gran Giraffe and Pan Am that I copied from Rich Sims handwritten topos way way back, like 30 years ago. Some buddies, Bob Cox, Eric Held, Bob Critchfield, always intended to road trip down, but I'm not sure if we could've ever really used them since we never had a map of how to get there. I think they're still in my old room at my folks place in OC.

Still nice to know that places like that are still around.

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Dec 13, 2007 - 08:38pm PT
I remember going to the Throne a bunch of times and we kept looking for the gnarliest stretch of stone on the thing and when we did the Pan Am (with a conga line of Uplanders) we could look out left and I guessed there was a line out there. I got the best wall climber I could find who was in the area (Hugh Burton), and we tromped down there hoping to find a route on the bald face. Huge hiked way down below the wall to get a good look and when he came back to the base (I was trying to get sh#t organized and collect water) he said, "There's a line, but it's barely there and it don't look easy."

We fixed a few piches that day, went for it the next and spent the night in hammocks way up there, having done some actual A4 getting there. We were of early afternoon the next day. Hard route but easier than it looked (looks like an A5 horrorshow). Next ascent plunked in some bolts that removed the dangerous bits, especially the upper face climbing which originally had no bolts at all.

Who knows what the route is like now. A few strategic bolts can take the bit out of most anything, but the location is still prety good on the Giraffe. You're right out there on a mini Shield, and if something goes wrong it's gonna be a while before the TJ rescue team arrives.

Good stuff. On site it if you can. Higher thrills.


Social climber
Newport, OR
Dec 13, 2007 - 09:03pm PT
Viva Largo!
Juan Maderita

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 13, 2007 - 09:21pm PT
Hey Largo,
I remember seeing you at base camp in the 70s with some big-ass, low slung, sedan. Leaking gasoline from a hole punched into the tank while on the dirt roads. Someone was putting chewing gum on the hole. IIRC, you were preparing to do a route on the Throne. I always wondered if you came back to an empty tank???
Always an adventure back in those days, especially when the road was not much more than a couple of faint tire tracks over the cow trails.
Is it true that the name "Giraffe" came from an analogy to sticking your necks a long way out?

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Dec 13, 2007 - 09:40pm PT
Has anyone had any problems with theft and/or local banditos while climbing at the Throne or Canyon de Tajo? I read in the LA Times sometime around 1999 that there was a real problem in the area around that time.
Juan Maderita

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 13, 2007 - 10:17pm PT
Yes, an armed robbery in base camp 1996. Two San Diego climbers returned to VW van after a long day of climbing. Around dusk, two bandidos, armed with a rifle, took their money. A bullet was fired near their heads while they were prone on the ground.

There were other robberies at Laguna Hanson (Parque Nacuional, 15 miles south); one guy I had contact with was severely pistol whipped. A pre-runner for the Baja 1000 or 500 race was shot at in his vehicle and hit in the leg. There were car burglaries at base camp. Several vehicles were torched in the lower canyons (Tajo, Carrizo, maybe other canyons), probably by mota growers. Most of those incidents were in the 1990s. There were a couple known robberies on the dirt road between La Rumorosa and base camp this decade.

The Pacific coast, particularly between Tijuana and Ensenada, and some surf areas south of Ensenada are experiencing many recent and violent robberies. The moutains have been okay AFAIK.

The San Diego Union-Tribune is even publishing those recent accounts. They refused to publish the crimes which I reported to them in the 1990s. Speculation was that they didn't want to piss off Mexico as they wwere starting a Spanish language edition. A reporter for the Reader took my scoop and wrote a good article.

Trad climber
San Diego CA
Dec 13, 2007 - 10:52pm PT
BVB lives! Hey, you didn't find MY stash down there did ya'? It were'nt no topos but lots o' fun.

Sport climber
Silverado, CA
Dec 14, 2007 - 12:02am PT
Made a dozen or so trips down there in the late 80's and early 90's. Seemed like a visit to the area was a rite of passage for So Cal climbers back then.

Met some great people down there, did a few new routes and climbed a ton of great 1 and 2 pitch routes right around the climbers' camp. Some of the dike routes down there rival those found in Tuolumne and elsewhere.

Wanted to climb the Throne on my first trip down and seriously underestimated the approach. Got all turned around in the gully systems leading down to the base. It took two more trips down before I forgot the misery enough to try again. That time we found our way to the base and had a great climb.

I also agree that the place should be kept as much of an "adventure" as possible by distributing just enough info for folks to maybe find their way. I had (what I thought) were decent directions my first trip down and I still had some problems initially finding the camp. Thinking back on that drive (especially when coupled with our epic in the gully) makes that first trip and those that followed all the more memorable.

Social climber
Newport, OR
Dec 14, 2007 - 02:58am PT
I remember a few times with BVB down there, when we didn't want to bring certain items back across the border and left them...Nice to find on return visit!
Juan Maderita

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 14, 2007 - 03:21am PT
Years ago, while enjoying the crags, I watched a single engine plane circle just a few hundred yards from base camp. A duffel bag dropped out of the plane from just above the tree tops. Fairly certain that guns were present, I didn't have the cajones to try to retrieve it myself. Too bad, that would have supplied base camp indefinitely!

The Mexican Army digs trenches across flat meadows and likely landing strips. Then they cover the traps with brush in an attempt to wreck the planes or kill the narcotraficantes.

Social climber
Newport, OR
Dec 14, 2007 - 03:24am PT
Whoa Juan...Yeah that could have been intense...
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