The Other Mexican Sport Climbing Hub
When most North American climbers think about rock climbing in Mexico, the multi-pitch routes on the huge limestone walls of El Potrero Chico usually come to mind. What Potrero often overshadows is the phenomenal sport climbing located only a couple hours further south: the relatively unknown and secluded destination of El Salto. Situated in the massive canyons of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, El Salto offers amazing scenery, authentic Mexican culture and, of course, great climbing.
The climbing in El Salto is located mostly at four main walls: Las Animas, La Boca, Tecalote Cave and Cumbia Cave. The first three are all within short walks of the camping, whereas Cumbia Cave is about a 30- minute drive away. The rock encompasses everything that draws people to major limestone climbing destinations around the world. There are 10- metre long tufas, massive stalactites, 50- metre routes, horizontal roofs, knee bars, the list goes on. In total, there are over 100 routes ranging from mid 5.10 to 5.14, with the majority at 5.12 and harder.
The vast canyons in the area offer endless potential for development. A few key bolters, including Canadian Ulric Rousseau, are establishing new routes each season on almost a weekly basis. Because of the rapid growth i n development, the only easily obtainable guide – an old pdf found on Rousseau’s website – is missing many routes and some areas. Thankfully, it isn’t too hard to find climbers in El Salto with a more up-to-date pdf guide. Even if you can’t find this new guide, the older pdf will get you to most of the classic lines.
Despite the amazing routes, El Salto is not the busy climbing hub that similar areas worldwide have become. This may be due to the unfortunate perception of Mexico as unsafe, or perhaps the vacationfriendly reputation of El Potrero Chico with its more moderate climbing. One American we met in our travels said, “El Salto would be the most popular climbing destination i n North America if it were on U.S. soil.” During our entire stay in Mexico, we did not experience anything unsafe or sketchy and we left feeling that the “danger” of Mexico is likely blown out of proportion in the media.
The number of climbers visiting El Salto is increasing every year as word spreads about the area and will likely continue to grow as many more walls and even some multi-pitch climbs are developed. So what are you waiting for? You can enjoy amazing climbing and a true Mexican experience without having to wait i n lines to get on your favourite climbs. That sounds pretty good to me.