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Rock Climbing at El Potrero Chico

Map of the rock climbing areas around Monterrey in Nuevo including El Potrero Chico

Map of the rock climbing areas around Monterrey in Nuevo including El Potrero Chico

Rock climbing areas in Nuevo Leon

No Crag No. of routes Typical Grade Range Rock Type
1 El Potrero Chico More than 800 5.7 to 5.14 Limestone
2 Culo de Gato 25 5.9 to 5.14b Limestone
3 La Huasteco More than 300 5.6 to 5.13 Limestone
4 Canon de San Lorenzo 120 5.8 to 5.13b Limestone
5 El Salto More than 100 5.9 to 5.14 Limestone
6 Puente de Dios 24 5.10a to 5.13d Limestone
7 Montemorelos 15 5.10a to 5.13d Limestone
El Potrero Chico is undoubtedly the best known and largest rock climbing area in Mexico, with its towering mountains in the arid Chihuahuan desert.  It is near the northern city of Monterrey in the state of Nuevo that is located in the northwest of Mexico bordering with Texas of the USA. 

El Potrero Chico is a sport climber’s haven with hundreds of single and multi-pitch routes on good quality limestone rock.  Some of these routes are long, particularly on the wall of El Toro (The Bull), where there are many routes up to 800m long.  There is even one route called Monster Track at 50 pitches and 1,500m long, though this is a trad route.  However the vast majority of the routes are sport routes, with something for everyone, from steep overhangs to easy slabs, with the majority of routes between 5.8 and 5.13 (French 4+ to 8a).  There is a choice between 1, 3, 10, and 20 pitch routes on bolted limestone rock.  Though the rock can be sharp there are plenty of crimps and pockets.

The north face of El Toro (The Bull) is the most outstanding wall of El Potrero Chico with a height of approximately 800m.  This great big wall provides serious routes that have sustained difficulty and require a high level of commitment. Many of the routes are graded around 5.12 (French 7a+).  One of the internationally famous routes is called El Sendero Luminso, which is graded at 5.12d (French 7c) and is nearly 600m long.

Rock climbing areas around Monterrey in Nuevo

In the state of Nuevo there are also some other rock climbing areas, as shown on the above map. Particularly there are places like El Salto and La Huasteca that have plenty of excellent routes on superb limestone rock filled with crimps, tufas and cracks. 

La Huasteca is a magical place with impressive limestone walls up to 500m high located close to the city of Monterrey.  There are more than 300 routes here with many of them being long and gorgeous multi-pitch routes. Many of the walls are still undeveloped with endless potential for new route development. 

El Salto is located about 1-hour south of Monterrey, in the Cumbres de Monterrey National Park.  Here there are more than 100 routes most of which are sport routes.  The rock climbing sectors are located within a canyon with impressive vertical and overhanging walls on both sides.  There are some multi-pitch routes though the majority of the routes are single pitch.

El Potrero Chico and Nuevo Logistics

The Mexico rock climbing guidebook – north covers all the rock climbing areas in Nuevo including El Potrero ChicoThe best time to climb at El Potrero Chico is from mid-December through to mid-March, with late February offering the very best conditions. The best time to visit La Huasteca is from October through to March, though it is possible to climb all year round providing you climb in the shade in the summer. At El Salto it is possible to climb all year round. 

With regards to gear, a minimum 60m long rope is essential for the single pitch sport routes and twin 60m long ropes are recommended for the multi-pitch routes.  Bring along around 20 quickdraws and even though the vast majority of the routes are bolted a small set of nuts are useful.

The Mexico rock climbing guidebook – north covers all the rock climbing found at El Potrero Chico, La Huasteca, El Salto and the other rock climbing areas in Nuevo.  Buy this guidebook from our shop.

 

The limestone towering mountains of El Potrero Chico, Mexico’s best sport climbing area

The limestone towering mountains of El Potrero Chico, Mexico’s best sport climbing area.

The photograph shows Cody Roth on a route in the Las Animas Wall sector of El Salto crag to the south of Monterrey

The photograph shows Cody Roth on a route in the Las Animas Wall sector of El Salto crag to the south of Monterrey.