The Small Paddock

We get Mackenzie situated in her “small paddock” and then head to our own, which is how Google translates the Mexican climbing area El Potrero Chico.

Flights from Tucson (or Phoenix) to Monterrey, Mexico are a bit expensive at the last minute, would require a layover in Dallas, and limit the luggage we could take. We decide to drive the 18 hours to El Potrero Chico. We make the trip in 3 legs, crossing the border in Laredo, TX to continue just 3 hours to the little town of Hidalgo in Nuevo Leon.

Jess does all the research about the border-crossing. We purchase Mexican car insurance for the week, and since we will be traveling beyond the “free zone” with our own vehicle we pay a deposit to the Mexican government (to dissuade us from illegally “importing” it for sale).

Getting into Mexico is easy, but we have heard stories about extortion scams and corrupt “police”, so we drive below the ridiculously low speed limit until we reach the paid highway. Many roads are single-lane with “No Passing” signs, so slower traffic drives on the shoulder. We arrive safely and meet up with our friends Gabi, Boris, and Keith.

The weather is a bit chilly and wet for a couple days, but luckily our friends have extra space in the apartment they rented, so we don’t have to pitch our tent.

Our first full day there we hike out to an ancient tree. That evening we go out to dinner for an average of $2.50 per person; beer is $1 per liter. Another friend, Gus, arrives late that night after being held at airport immigration for hours.

The next day is better weather, so we go climbing. El Potrero Chico is a collection of limestone fins that jut up both sides of a central road. Approaches are easy and climbs are well-equipped. There are many bolted multi-pitch options, and plenty of cragging too.

In the evenings we drink inexpensive high-end tequila and local beers, and play cards. We laugh as you can only do with old friends.

2 thoughts on “The Small Paddock

  1. Oh I really want to go here. Was this your first time? I know you’ve recommended climbing destinations to me in Mexico before but I can’t remember their names. Salud, amigos!

    1. Yes, first time, and not our last. This is the crown jewel of Mexican rock climbing, but there are other areas too. Let me know when you want to go, and I’ll meet you there!

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