To start the year with something new is always an exciting thing. And this year was not going to be the exception. I remember I was just telling a friend I wanted to climb “La Peña de Bernal” for new years ever, but I had never climb a multi pitch before, so this friend took me to “Las Ventanas”, Hidalgo, Mexico. This incredible site is located near Pachuca, Hidalgo in The National Park “El Chico”. Near a very famous miner’s town called “Mineral del Chico” founded around 1565.
When I saw the huge set of walls standing in front of me I have to admit that I was pretty scared to go up there, but of course missing the experience was out of the question. But before I describe the climb, lets start for the beginning.
ON THE ROAD
It was January 2nd of this new year. I woke up around 6 o’clock in the morning and packed everything I needed that day: climbing gear, something warm to wear (it was supposed to be a windy day) and prepared something to eat during the trip (tangerines, water, granola bars). My friend picked me up around 8 o’clock and we went on the road. One of the best parts of these kind of trips is the road, road trip music, in my case talk about what to expect form the day, the excitement of what is to come; and road breakfast!! That might be one of my favorite parts.
On the side of the road from Mexico City to Pachuca there are many “Barbacoa” places where you can stop to grab a bite. “Barbacoa” is a delicious dish that I can only eat when I don’t see the little goat roasting, but I have to admit that it does taste really good.
ARRIVAL TO THE SITE
We arrived at the site and parked the car. There was this plane area for camping, with a couple of tents. When we got out of the car I realized that the weather wasn’t as cold as I had expected, but also we were standing on the sun, the shadow was a little bit colder. Since we were only two persons we decided to only bring one back pack alone and gear up in the parking lot. So we counted the amount on quickdraws needed for each pitch, and my friend put them on his harness since he was going to do lead. I put my harness and daisy chain on and hanged my climbing shoes at one side and to the other I hanged a quickdraw and belay devise. Each one took took a coat, folded and put it in the backpack, as well as our lunch and bottles of water.
So we walked through the camping site and arrived to where we were going to star our climb.
“El Fistol del Diablo” was the first one we climbed it’s supposed to be a 70m climb with 3 pitches. The funny thing is that even though it’s high the route is really easy to climb, the holds are crazy big and it’s almost impossible to fall. I remember I was a little surprised when my friend told me he was going to climb it without climbing shoes, something that after going up makes a lot of sense.
So he went up and I secured him. This route was so simple that it only had 2 quickdraws before the anchor, the second and third pitch weren’t different from the first one. But when we got to the top, wow, the view I loved it. You could see everything from there, we stayed a little bit up there enjoying the view and since there were a lot of people on the top, waiting for our turn to rappel down.
When finally came down someone told us that there was an easy rout to go up “La Ventana Mayor” which is the highest wall in that zone, so we decided to give it a try. He gave us instructions to find the right route and we were on our way. There were many people climbing the single pitches around there, we kept on walking and arrived to the site, the thin is that when you get directions to places like these, they rely on the landscape and it changes a bit. So we couldn’t find it. We were told that it was one with close and new bolt but when we found it, my friend said it was a to hard for me and we were going to try another one. And that is how we end up in “Artificial”.
“Artificial” was a challenge for me, primarily because of the height, I am not really sure about the distance, but it was nothing like the first one we did. The first pitch ended above a 3m roof that I was going to do with the help of my friend, quickdraws and a nylon sling. I actually wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do that, but of course I was going to try. So he started climbing got to the anchor and secured himself. Now it was my turn, I grabbed the backpack, put on my climbing shoes and started climbing. The holds were really big and kind of uncomfortable but it was kind of a fast ascent until I reached the roof. Then I started to freak out a little bit. So here is how I was pass through that beautiful roof, 5 steps:
- Grab quickdraw,
- Put nylon sling on bolt
- Step on nylon bolt
- Pull myself from quickdraw
- While my friend tensed the rope.
And repeat until I finished the roof. Thanks to that I developed a small attachment to the blue nylon sling that helped me through that roof, at one point I took the rope of a quickdraw before I passed it, that was a huge mistake. After the roof I secured myself to the anchor, and passed the quickdraws to my friend. I putted the GriGri on his rope and he went up.
The second pitch wasn’t as hard as the first one, the holds were a little smaller and the view above the trees was something amazing. When we reached the second anchor the view was amazing but we decided we were not going to climb the next pitch since the technique was similar to the one in the first pitch’s roof. I took a couple of pictures and we rappelled down, stopping at the first anchor since the rope wasn’t long enough.
It was some experience, that I hope gets better with time. I will be coming back to The National Park “El Chico” to try new routes.