San Sebastian Tutla Rock Climbing
[see James B's comment below, there is now apparently a guidebook available.]
NOTE:This description is vague because the information I have about the cliff is vague. If you're expecting SuperTopo-quality descriptions, you're gonna be very disappointed! Think ADVENTURE (only with new stainless bolts)! Also, it should rapidly become clear that I'm in no way local to this crag, and would welcome any local that would like to take over this entry and correct it.
Located in a suburb of Oaxaca City, this is pleasant crag with apparently around 70 routes. The routes I saw were well-bolted with stainless hardware, and the bolts appeared to be in extremely good shape. This crag is certainly not one to fly across the world for, but if you're already in Oaxaca for some other reason, I think you might enjoy a day or two here. We only had one morning there and wished we'd had more.
The rock appears to be something igneous with a lot of pockets and big crystals. The rock is pretty solid: a bit of crumbling here and there on what I saw, which seemed to me appropriate for routes that I think have not seen a lot of traffic.
The cliff faces West-Southwest. When we were there (March) the sun hit the cliff at about 11-1130am and you would not want to climb there after that.
Apparently you can get off all the routes with a single 60m rope. The routes are generously bolted, so I'd think on a route that went the full 30m you might need 20+ draws, but many of the routes are much shorter, in the 10-20m range.
As of this writing, there is not a published topo of the cliff. The climbing gym, Muro Mondragon, at 14 Carretera Internacional (www.muromondragon.com) (note, I used their website several times while in Oaxaca, but as I write this in the US it seems not to work?) would be the place to go for beta. The owner is a guy named Carlos, but he wasn't there when we arrived and so another friendly climber guy gave us a ton of beta and drew us a rough map.
Everything at this crag is rated 5.8 and up. I do not know if the grades are stiff or soft, because I do not really have any idea what routes I was on! Reportedly there are routes up to 13a.
The trail (see Getting There) deposits you at the left end of the cliff. At that point there is a little northwest-facing part of the wall with some routes that look quite hard, guessing 11+ and up (but maybe they're 5.5, I didn't try 'em to find out).
Next is a little alcove containing about 8 routes in the 5.10 range. This is where I climbed...I think. If I'm right, then the routes are rated a little soft compared to what I'm used to. If I'm wrong, and I misunderstood which of the two alcoves (see below) had the 5.8's in it, then the grades are a bit stout!
On the topo the guy at Mondragon drew me, there is yet another alcove to the right around the corner from the first alcove, containg several routes in the 5.8-5.9 range on the right-hand wall as you face in, and harder stuff on the left-hand wall.
Then, to the right of that second alcove is the main bulk of the wall, which we didn't get to either. Supposedly just as you get out of the second alcove onto the main wall is a really nice "10a" starting behind a tree. Then there are a few more 10's and then things get hard for a while to the left of that. At the right-hand end of the wall the grades moderate again into the 10 range. We were told that there is a very nice easy 10 at the far right-hand end of the cliff.
1) From downtown Oaxaca head east out Carretera Internacional, which gets you into the town of San Sebastian Tutla, for about 10 minutes if there's no traffic. If you don't have a car a cab could get you out there for probably 70-90 pesos (less than $10). [EDIT: see James B's comment below about bus service.]
2) Keep an eye out on your left for Muro Mondragon, the climbing gym at 14 Carretera Internacional. The sign is a climbing mannequin on an overhanging wall.
3) About 150 feet past Muro Mondragon, there is a traffic light at Calzada Antonio de Leon. Turn RIGHT at Antonio de Leon and go about 200 feet to its end.
4) Jog RIGHT about 30 feet and continue on Calle Constitucion. I don't know the name of the cross street there where Calle Constitucion starts.
5) Go about 8 blocks through a little neighborhood and you'll come to Calle Ferrocarril, a big divided street. Go straight across, and Constitucion will turn to dirt on the other side of Ferrocarril.
6) Continue for about 1/2 mile (very approximate, we were walking) and you'll cross the river on a concrete bridge. Along here if you're looking up and southwest, you'll see some pretty big cliff bands, but the one you're going to is much smaller and you won't even notice it until you're pretty close.
7) Continue for maybe another 1/2 mile.
8) At this point, you'll be at a group of three abandoned concrete buildings, the northern one is about the size of an outhouse, the next two progressively bigger. Some graffiti on the middle one says "Te Amamos Frida!" This is where the trail begins, going off uphill to the southeast. Just after the buildings (and the trail) the road becomes quite steep and loose, and if you've missed the buildings and are in a cab, the cabbie will probably get unhappy. Also next to the uphill, on the Left, is a small pond/lake.
9) Follow the trail uphill to the southeast for about 3-4 minutes, and you'll be at the base of the left-hand end of the wall.
Weather station 0.3 miles from here
Featured Route For San Sebastian Tutla
Nov 30, 2014
Spent 2 days climbing here in mid-November 2014. As mentioned above, the rock is pretty good fun climbs on mostly solid-feeling holds and all the fixed gear looked safe. There is now a guide for the area available from the Mondragon climbing gym (facebook.com/pages/Muro-de-Esc... ) for 50 pesos (~ US$4, they also sold chalk if youre running low). The guide is pretty much just route lines drawn on photos with the grade and number of bolts, but was helpful enough. Some of the grading was a bit err... interesting... think 5.8 feeling 10as and unclimbed-looking 10bs... so bring extra bail gear? Most routes we saw had high first bolts and a maximum of 14 draws.
If you are staying in the southern part of town, busses leaving from in front of the Chedraui (a big supermarket) marked Santa Cruz turned out to be a good public transport option (and only 6 pesos!). Hop off at the last stop (a big radar-dome looking structure on your right and a soccer field on your left) and walk down the main road in the direction the bus was heading until you reach the first set of lights and a big overhead sign for San Sebastian the dirt road mentioned above is on the right of this intersection. Busses back to the Chedraui leave from next to the soccer field where you got off the bus.
Jan 5, 2015
I climbed here in January of 2015. I used Rancho Buenavista (.com.mx) and can strongly recommend them to anyone looking for a guide, as I was.
My guide (David) knew the area incredibly well and was able to suggest routes based on his personal experience, not the rating in the printed guide (which I didn't see), or those in 8a.nu (which I did, and were often off by a grade). Your milage may vary, but this definitely worked out very well for me and gave me a really good idea of what level of difficulty to expect once my shoes hit the rock.
In January the climbing was incredible during the early morning, but the sun started to hit the walls around late morning. By 1pm, it was definitely too hot for me to want to continue.
I was shown the hardest route on the wall - a 5.14 (I think 5.14b) named "Gangrena". You can find it by looking for the gold coloured bolts.
There are a few 5.13s just to the left on the same wall (three are named for the three judges of hell - rhadamanthys, minos and aiakos), and to the right are some other hard climbs that take you up close and personal with (so I'm told) a good sized bee hive in the cave near the top. Watch out!
For myself, the hardest route I did in the area was "6 a.m." (5.10a), and most thoroughly excellent.