El Potrero Chico Info

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crazyfingers

climber
CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 11, 2009 - 11:44pm PT
Visited for the first time from Dec24th to Jan6th.

Getting There:
Flew from Sacramento to Vegas (US Airways), then on to Monterrey (AeroMexico) with a ticket purchased from cheaptickets.scam for $650. Got stuck paying the $15 checked bag fee each way just for the short flights between Sac and Vegas. US Airways doesn't count Mexico as international travel. Also, to transfer at Vegas' McCarran from domestic to international and vise-versa, you gotta leave the building and walk about ten minutes to the other terminal. Not a big deal, but annoying with all your luggage. Also found out later that the same trip could have been cheaper had I bought separate tickets on my own and just coordinated flight times. US Airways has no complimentary anything on their flights and the purchase choices suck too.
AeroMexico flights give you meals, movies, mixed drinks, etc. Ask for extras and you get them free. Nice airline.

Arranged a taxi from airport through La Posada. Charge was $46US for up to three people. There was no person from Posada to pick us up. There was a guy with a sign and our names who walked us over to the line of taxis waiting outside the door though. Lame. I suggest arranging your own taxi through the airport taxi desk.
There are US dollar ATM and MEX peso ATM before leaving the exit. American Express will exchange monies for free. The US dollar was worth $13MEX pesos at the time.

Taxi ride was about 45min. Didn't pay to take the toll road and saw no reason to do so.

Setting Up:
Arrived at Posada after dark and set up tents wherever. $5US/night/person. It was kinda crowded, busy, noisy, music playing all night, and fireworks going off overhead. A good scene for socializing, but not staying.

Next day, we moved our tents up the hill to the Pagoda. $4/night/person. Way more quiet, cleaner bathrooms in better repair, nicer showers, a better scene for living day to day. Kitchen area is good too.

There's also camping at Homero's, Checo's, and various other little places I don't know the name of. Basically, if you're ok with camping then you can just show up and find a spot as you like.

Red Tape/BS/Getting Tooled:
Stay away from anyone with authority/uniform. Chances are they're gonna want to use their authority to extort money from you somehow. I heard (but can't confirm) that several climbers were robbed by police in Monterrey. Can confirm that another climber was pulled over for speeding and asked to pay $200US. After finally paying $120US, he found out the ticket was only $20US. Get badge numbers and be ready to stand firm.
Getting into the Potrero park is $10MEX/day/person, but 80% of the climbing is before the gate.
Don't lose the stub from your immigration form like I did. When ready to fly home, I was ganged up on by gate attendants and immigration officers telling me I needed the stub to get on the plane. They repeatedly told me I had to pay "fifty bucks" and that I was going to miss my flight and have to go downtown to some immigration office to be allowed to leave Mexico. I argued my case right up to the last second and they finally allowed me to board. I think they just wanted to see if they could get "fifty bucks" out of me.

Food and water:
Drink the water. It tastes good and won't make you sick.
The best meals are at Checo's and Posada. Posada has cheap drinks, slightly pricy food, but good quality and quantity.
Pagoda has a much simpler menu, but most meals are about $35MEX and soda is $6MEX. Tammy's does a few simple breakfast items, coffee for $20/30MEX, hot cocoa.
Hidalgo market days are Tues/Thurs and worth a visit. You will get overcharged by most vendors. Stand around and watch what the locals pay before you jump in.
The walk into town is about half an hour, then forty five minutes to return.
You won't find tea, drink mix powders, chocolate, peanut butter, or anything even moderately fancy. The eggs and cheeses are better than US quality.

Climibng:
Any time of the day there are climbs in the sun or climbs in the shade, so take your pick. Ratings are nearly worthless, as there is no consistency at all, even on the same wall.
Watch out for snakes on the route! Cacti are a problem too, but don't require a hospital stay.
The rock is super sharp most of the time, so expect to feel the pain.
Fun pitches under 5.10 are a rarity. The rock is just too featured and those climbs wind up being boring. There are plenty of fun easy 5.10 routes though.
A 70m rope would be a really nice thing to bring. A 60m gets you by, but many rappels will have you hitting end-knots. A few times we had to simul-climb ten to fifteen feet in order to link together two pitches.
Using two ropes to rappel seems more trouble than time saver. Too much loose rock, cacti, other hang ups. Too much rope being pulled means extra risk of stuck ropes.
If you plan on linking pitches, you'll need a lot of draws. We used twenty five on some climbs. Take some alpine draws to reduce drag.

Other:
Wireless internet available at Posada and Tammy's. Tammy's also has two free computers for customer use.

If you're injured in any serious way, go to Monterrey without wasting time in Hidalgo.

Buses and taxis can be had adjacent to the town square in Hidalgo. $40US for three people to taxi to the airport made the guy pretty happy. I imagine the going rate is much cheaper.

There is no cell service up by the Potrero.

The more Español you speak, the better time you'll have.

Ciao...

jbar

Ice climber
Russia with love.
Jan 12, 2009 - 12:55am PT
Nice! Always love good beta. Sucks the American peso is only worth 13 mexican pesos and bound to get worse once we start printing more. The scam thing about the authorities was really bad in Africa too. The police would tell you that you broke the law and tell you that you had to pay a fine or they would take you to jail and you would have to go to court. Of course they would pocket the money so the gov started requireing authorities to issue receipts to prevent bribes and keep account of the fines. The end result is now when you get in trouble and you have to pay a fine you ask how much it would cost "without a receipt".
Tork

climber
Yosemite
Jan 12, 2009 - 10:13am PT
Thanks for the beta Crazy. We head there in a few days.
susan peplow

climber
www.joshuatreevacationhomes.com
Jan 12, 2009 - 02:58pm PT
So Crazy,

In your opinion where is the best place to stay. Non-camping style but in a room (not deluxe) but something that has a few beds and I don't have to pack bivy gear.

How close are the various establishments to each other. Within walking distance it sounds. This question mostly applies to the mention of different food options.

70m recommended would an 80m just be overkill and extra weight or would that be a good recommendation too? What about basic essentials such as chalk, tape, etc? Pack it or go without? Bugs? Temps?

Seriously considering going down in the next month or so. Info welcome from anybody who wants to chime in.

~Sooze
Manny

Social climber
tempe
Jan 12, 2009 - 09:44pm PT
Hi Sooze, take a 70m rope; take tape and any climbing gear you may need. We ate out, always. But I brought stuff like Clif bars etc. I've stayed at La Pagoda twice, last time several of us in a single room: $250US for 5 days. I am going in March and we are renting the big house up the hill. La Posada, a tad further from the park, also has nice rooms that sleep several folks. All the climber hangouts are within a 1/4 mile or so, La Pagoda being the closest to the park. In feb you shouldn't have any bugs, the temps are still cool; last jan it was warm days and cold nights, a lot like Phx. If you want more beta, let me know.
crazyfingers

climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 12, 2009 - 11:11pm PT
If staying at La Posada make sure you can get a room with private bath. The group bathrooms/showers there are not cool.

La Pagoda has some nice multi-room houses for rent with full-out everything. Very nice. Some smaller rooms too, that don't come with a private bath, but that's ok here.

There's one place inside the park that a buddy stayed at a year ago. It's solar powered, nice, isolated. The owners cook meals for you and you have all you need except for socializing with others. You also have to walk farther to hit up the restaurants or get into town.

Energy bars, gu, granola, or any other sort of American climber snax are not available there. The food shopping is pretty basic around Hidalgo. Imagine a little grocery store in an isolated southern USA town. No frills. I like Mexican food and can cook pretty well from scratch, but I was still going a little crazy after two weeks of eating the same stuff.

I personally didn't encounter any situation needing an 80m rope.
Don't bother taking any trad gear. Wear a helmet fo-sho! Bring a decent first aid kit. Bring a copy of Three Cups of Tea or you'll feel like an outcast.
susan peplow

climber
www.joshuatreevacationhomes.com
Jan 13, 2009 - 12:30am PT
Thanks guys, keep it coming (and thanks for the offer Riley). No set plans just something we're batting around. No FISH south of the border, he'd be sending a proxy-date.

Is it worth making room accommodations online or just showing up?

crazyfingers

climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 13, 2009 - 02:38am PT
If you're depending on a room, you better book it. Everything was already booked up before my trip, but that was a more popular time.
jbar

Ice climber
Russia with love.
Jan 13, 2009 - 03:28am PT
Reading on portrerochico.com site one of the routes says it's runout 15'-20' between bolts. Is that runout?
crazyfingers

climber
CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 13, 2009 - 01:30pm PT
z-clipping is a possibility on some routes. there's a lot of bolts out there. you can easily clip the bolt of an adjacent route oftentimes.
Manny

Social climber
tempe
Jan 13, 2009 - 01:52pm PT
jbar, a lot depends on who did the FA as far as bolting distance goes. One of my faves, Don Quixote, has a couple of long scary runouts, protectable by nuts. Others I've done are more closely bolted.
Crimpergirl

Social climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Jan 13, 2009 - 03:08pm PT
Maybe we'll see you there Sooze. We expect to be there for a couple of weeks near the end of February. Can't wait!
caughtinside

Social climber
Davis, CA
Jan 13, 2009 - 04:17pm PT
I'm at the potrero right now. The New Year's crowds are long gone, it is super mellow, even at Posada where I'm at.

70m rope for sure, otherwise you're bummed on some of the raps.
susan peplow

climber
www.joshuatreevacationhomes.com
Jan 13, 2009 - 04:32pm PT
Dave,

How long you there for? Might be me and the certified leader who head south.

Melissa and J said you were back in the Bay area...guess they were mistaken.

Email me!
caughtinside

Social climber
Davis, CA
Jan 13, 2009 - 05:00pm PT
Yeah, I'm here for a couple more weeks plus or minus, then headed south to Guatemala and on to Panama eventually. You guys thinking of driving? It's 1000 miles from Phx to Laredo, then another couple hours to the Potrero.

I shot you an email, let me know if you drive it and I can give you the beta on the car permit/insurance at the border.
Lydia

Trad climber
Tempe, AZ
Jan 13, 2009 - 05:23pm PT
Hey Susan-

Have a great time in Potrero! I've been down a couple of times this season and it's been as good as ever. Couple of suggestions:

Gear-wise:

    70m rope (I've done a bunch of routes with a 60m, but it's a total pain -- the second usually ends of simuling, and you spend a good chunk of time while rapping thinking "Geez, I hope the rope stretches enough to make it to the anchor...")

    a couple of extendable draws

    helmet (the loose rock can be bad)

Accomodation-wise: I've stayed at La Posada a bunch and really like it. If nothing else, check out their restaurant -- the food is fantastic!

Email me if you want some specific route suggestions or have any other questions! Enjoy!
susan peplow

climber
www.joshuatreevacationhomes.com
Jan 13, 2009 - 05:39pm PT
Thanks Lydia, I wouldn't consider a 60m, I was actually asking if it were worth bringing a 80m which from the sounds of it, no.

Anybody else headed down that's looking to split a room rental?

Manny

Social climber
tempe
Jan 13, 2009 - 09:26pm PT
If you can wait til March, we're looking for roomies at La Pagoda.

Is Tami's still doing tuesday night dinner specials?
nickoli

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 14, 2009 - 01:56pm PT
Great beta, thanks!!

I plan to be down there Jan 19-28 and will be looking for some climbing partners. Cheers,

Nick
webnick-seattle[near]usa[dodel]net
Joe

Social climber
Santa Cruz Mountains/Los Gatos
Jan 18, 2010 - 09:55pm PT
any new beta on EPC. never been, heading down soon.

25 draws? for real?

still no cell service down there?
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