5 january 1999 - Bernal

 

We had planned an alpine start - does getting up at 11:30 count? The 250 meter monolith of rock is visible right outside when we open the sliding door and stumble into the sunlit day. Quick breakfast and off we go with a light rack - the routes up Pena de Bernal are supposed to be bolted. We have some beta from Armando on where a couple of routes are, but finding them is a different story. We have a multipitch route in mind, La Bernalita 5.8, but we end up on what later turns out to be a single-pitcher called Cruda Dominical 5.10a.

Cruda Domnical 5.10a

The rock is completely different than Aculco, and requires the opposite techniques to ascent. Instead of jamming and lay-backing, we are now in steep face-climbing territory with small holds for hands and feet requiring balanced moves. And where Acolco was lead on our own gear, this place has brand-new, shiny bolts showing the way up the rock. The lines are not as bleeding obvious as the vertical cracks of Aculco: the whole rock is sprinkled with little holds but few other features so the bolt ladders define the "natural" lines. Great climbing, though. We find it much easier to handle than Aculco- this 5.10a face climb seems easier than the 5.9 jamming we were ascending a few days ago. Ok, the bolts make it easier, but still... I guess it means we need to keep practicing on the jamming techniques...

Anyway, Mathias leads Cruda Dominical in fine style. The top was a bit thin but it went without any serious problems. Fred follows, has to work a bit at those thin moves, but soon we are both at the stance.

La Bernalita 5.8

We feel like having a go at one of the multi-pitchers that summit on the top of the monolith. Luckily we bump into a young climbing couple who can show us where Bernalita and Lado Oscuro de la Luna (Dark side of the moon) are. We quickly run down to the town for a bite to eat, and return to the rock at arond 4pm. At bit late really: it gets dark at 6pm and these routes contain at least five pitches. With that in mind, Fred leads off on Bernalita - the easier of the two routes at 5.8.

The climbing is easy but steep and fun. There are bolts everytime you need one. The only problem we are having is that the first four pitches are a full 50 meters long, so we can barely reach each stance! The belayer has to climb up the stance a bit at the end of the rope so the leader can clip his cow-tail into the bolts. A 60 meter rope would have been better. Anyway, we make our way up alt leading pitch by pitch, with little messing about. The crux is perhaps a steep move on the fourth pitch, but all in all the climbing is pretty straight-forward. The top two pitches are a bit dodgy with a fair bit of loose rock, but after six full pitches and exactly two hours of climbing we are at the top. The last rays of the sun have been following us up the rock, and we time it perfectly as the sun sets behind the distant hills while we coil up our ropes.

Only one problem remains: how the hell do we get down from this thing? We heard that there is some sort of metal ladder somewhere on the other side but we are not sure exactly where. So we start scrambling down the other side, as it is getting darker and colder. Well, it turns out to be reasonable easy to find the descent route, although it did involve one abseil from a rusty old iron ring. We are soon down by the van, pretty tired after a good day on the rock.


So we start scrambling down the other side, as it is getting darker and colder.

Lots of restaurants in the pueblo but none of them open.

6 january 1999 - Guadalajara

 

We leave Bernal in the morning and head for Guadalajara a few hundred kilometers West. Juts a day of driving, really.

7 january 1999 - Huaxtla canyon

 

We have a few things to sort out in The City before we can head to the rock just north of Guadalajara. Find an Internet cafe, pick up our laundry and pay a visit to the climbing shop. The latter was closed unfortunately, but we get a good fix at a really cool Internet place in the outskirt of town. So, it is about 3 or 4 in the afternoon before we leave town.

Mathias has the latest copy of the American magazine "Climbing" which contains information about some crags near Guadalajara, so we follow the descripions to a place called Huaxtla canyon which we find fairly easily. We are now camped just below a treacherous spot in the dirt road where Daisy refused to get past. We got a peek at the crag from another point on the road, but we don't really know what awaits us.

Health status

Fred's cough is almost gone- a great relief. It had been going on for a solid two weeks, and we were starting to get worried that I had caught some bat dicease in the caves or something. Mathias has a tooth problem which on the other hand doesn't seem to be getting better. Probably a cavity, perhaps we need to get it looked at.

8 january 1999 - Huaxtla Canyon

 

We are camped in the at the top op a huge gorge which is the Huaxtla Canyon. We found a great little spot, built a fireplace, cooked some nice chicken, played some Yatzee and went to bed. It was a bit warmer than the previous nights mainly because we have gone down a few hundred meters. We woke up this morning in total silence - we are the only ones here and it is pretty remote. It's perfect.

We have looked closely at the stuff written in Climbing but those guys are all on abut 5.13's and stuff - pretty useless really as it is obviously a bit above our and everybody else's league. The place looks extremely promising - a huge Verdon-like gorge with equally steep faces. The rock is a typical Vulcano-like stone: solid, highly textured and with many pockets and features.

Looking down the canyon

We went down to the abseil point at noon and had a bit of a dilemma. We could see the lines of bolts coming up from below and we could spot three achors. The problem is that in the Climbing magazine they are on about using a 70 meter rope to get all the way to the belay of the routes which we don't have. And then secondly the only routes they describe is the 5.13a and a 5.12c. Not the stuff you want to abseil down, pull the rope and then try to negotioate your way up in complete commitment. At least not what we fancied after thinking about it. Unfortunately we where supposed to have had a look at the topo of the area at he climbing shop in Guadalajara yesterday - we found th shop with no problem, but it was closed all day. Bummer. If we knew what routes was down there we would go for it, but it would be crazy just to go down without proper beta.

So... What have we decided to do instead? Well there seemed to be two options to choose from. Either we break up our super camp and head for the next crag which is not far away or we stay in our camp, open a few beers, play some guitar, get a good shave, suck up some sun, eat some good food.

We have chhhcosen the last opoption. Skaal!

9 january 1999 - El Cuajo

Friendly Carlos

We leave this morning for "El Cuajo" a good sports climbing venue with 30-40 meter routes according to our Climbing magazine beta. We quickly find the road going into the area but have some trouble locating the actual crag. This get resolved 100 percent as we bump into Carlos Villanueva a 21 year old kid who is driving a pickup truck with two german climbers and a fellow Mexican chap. They are headed for the same crag and Carlos show the way. It is a wild drive through some plains and fields zigzagging through big boulders and cow before we stop the cars right below the rockface in a beautiful spot in the middle of nowhere. Carlos is *the* man to have bumped into - he is the one who has put of most of the bolted routes and he gives us all a complete tour of the crag. Great! They might not have proper guidebooks down here but they are instead extremely friendly and willing to show the visitors their local crags and all the classics. Carlos and his friend and the two Germans Lutz and Gerald are in the tough league climbing 5.12/13's and stuff, so we note down the few 5.10's that the place has to offer.

After the tour we rack up and head off to do "Versachi 5.10" which Fred leads and does so in style. It's extremely good rock - classic vulcanic stuff with rouch texture, lots of pockets and some good features.

Mathias leads the next one - "Siquiriqui 5.11" - which unfortunately has a crux which is avoidable by deviating a bit from the bolted line and so - although it's a flash - it probably wasn't 5.11. I tried the difficult crux right afterwards on top rope and it went okay, but the route remains to be flashed direct.

After these two routes we go to another sector which host only one route but with an obvious potential for two more. Fred leads the "Pinche Gripa 5.10" which is an enjoyable route following the arete some 20 meters two an anchor on good and festive rock.

After the 3 bolted feasts we are hungry for some "real" climbing. There are 4 cracks on the wall left of the arete that we just climbed and the most right one looks really promising most importantly it looks like protection is adecuate taking friends from the smaller end of the spectrum.


After the 3 bolted feasts we are hungry for some "real" climbing.

First ascent

After discussing different tactics we decide to try the obvious line 5 meters right of the bolt line. It's a finger crack continuing straight to the top but with a mid section too thin for protection or fingers so the weakness of the line would be to traverse over to a neighbourgh crack 2 meters left, go up 5 meters and then trend leftwards to the anchor of the bolted route. Mathias' ties the sharp end to his harness, fires up the full rack, does the Erick-spitting trick on his boots and start the new line. Struggle struggle pull pull, jamme jamme heave ho, putte putte friend in, steppe up and traverse left. Fred follows suggesting the grade E1 5b with the following two remarks "Okay, jeg tror sgu' jeg ryger!" and "Nej, det gaar sgu' ikke det her". They both mean something like "I'm f*cked!"...

Carlos is excited that we have climbed a new route as "his" crag. He insists that we give it a name and we come up with Regalo Danese. He promised us not to put any bolts in it.

Cave camp

We spend a great evening in a big cave in the crag, with a huge fire and our little multi-cultural group (danish, mexican, german). Talking about climbing around the world. The one mexican guy (the one who plays in a reggae band) explains mexican politics and how it is completely corrupt. It is hard to do anything about when according to our friend the politicians get two options by the mobsters running the country - take 1 million pesos or we kill your family. Yikes. Although our friends are from rich families (top 3% of the population), they are very aware that there is something completely screwed up in their country's government. Not all all the spoiled kids you might have expected.

10 january 1999 - El Cuajo

Remote waterfall

We got up a bit late today and headed up for the crag around mid-day. Carlos and the others was just on the way to a nearby waterfall which sounded pretty fesive so we dump the climbing gear and follow them to waterfall some 30 minuttes away. We hike through some pretty savage bush territory, down some steep dried-out river beds with enormous boulders, and along some neat little irrigation canals for the mango trees further down the valley. This would be completely impossible to find on your own! We end up at the base of a 60ft waterfall, with a big pool, and a natural shower coming out from the side with warm (drinkable) water. Perfect place to clean up and relax after a day on the rock. Carlos and

Capitan Garfio

Returned after the waterfall and the showers we check out the whole crag to see if we can make yet another glorious first ascent in this playground. We thouroughly investigate the lines on both sides of the main sector but we can't realy fire ourselves up to start a line. So after a good bit of spotting we decided to do the last 5.10 here - Capitan Garfio - which is a 50 meters sustained mother, lead by a mentally exhausted Matisok and seconded by a psysically drained Frederik. It went free, but it was a f*cking struggle. Great route though. We were too drained to do anything else that afternoon except a fun little bouldering traverse, followed by some relaxing in the German's hammock.

11 january 1999 - El Diente

  Mathias foedselsdag, ja.
Internet cafe - Still employed
Climbing shop open, beta for El Diente looks promising

12 january 1999 - El Diente

  Climbing at El Diente
met famous Ivan - nice chap


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