Peña de Bernal: The new El Potrero Chico?


Original Post
theeinjem · · New Paltz, NY · Joined May 2016 · Points: 13

I have never been to El Potrero Chico, but have been hearing mixed reviews about security, economic decline of Hidalgo and how crowded both the places and the bolts are. Instead of going to EPC, some friends and I went to Peña de Bernal in central Mexico. This place is completely incredible and has so much potential.

Has anyone had a positive or negative experience recently at Potrero?
Been to Bernal? How does it compare?

I really think the combination of the town's quality with the amazing climbing will make for a shift to Bernal once word gets out more.

smurray47 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

Just got back from a 2 week trip to EPC and apart from the 5-6 days in between Christmas and new years, the crowds weren't a problem at all, especially in relation to the sheer quantity of quality climbing. It went from being pretty quiet in the December 20-24 range, to a quick rise in population probably peaking around December 30th, to dropping off really quickly. Even during the most crowded period, it is easy to find classic 7-10 pitch 5.10 climbs to jump on. I imagine if you went outside of the December 15th-Jan 15th time frame it would feel like you had the place to yourself (in relation to the size of the canyon).

Also, what are you referring to when you mention the "quality" of Hidalgo? Its an authentic little Mexican town where you can buy dirt cheap groceries/mexican food, find wifi, and in general get anything you'd want on a climbing trip. Talking about the city's "quality" just seems kind of weird.

theeinjem · · New Paltz, NY · Joined May 2016 · Points: 13

I meant to say that the economy and safety was on the decline but that is all a rumor. Will edit to clarify. Thank you for the opinion. Good to know there are other opinions out there

smurray47 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

Thanks for the clarification.

In regards to safety, the locals of Hidalgo were EXTREMELY friendly and helpful in all my interactions with them. It is certainly a rural town that is not exceptionally modern, but it seemed completely safe to me. I know several female climbers there that felt safe hitchiking the 1/2 miles to and from hidalgo, and walking around Hidalgo on their own.

I wouldn't wander around downtown Monterrey on my own at night, but I've actually never heard anything, even rumors, about any issues of safety in Hidalgo.

Even in EPC itself, I had read some anecdotal reports about theft, but in actuality I would leave my phone charging in the campsite unattended for hours many times during the trip without incident, and never had a problem. The only time I heard about lost items there were some drunk folks who lost keys/wallet during the NYE party.

Craig Childre · · Lubbock, Texas · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 4,945

Only security risk I ever heard of... the time that band was playing... got kidnapped and killed... but that was years back... and really more of an anomaly.

I'll need to research that Pena spot some more...

I just don't see any spot beating the atmosphere and access achieved at Potreo. 5 minute walk from camp to what could be a lifetime of climbing possibilities...I find it hard to imagine it could be overcrowded given the campground capacity. So much work has been put into that canyon... it would take over a decade to even come anywhere close to the selection of climbing on hand.

Hard spot to beat for this sort of thing.

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,240

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/pea-de-bernal/106121301

So it's a single, if massive igneous monolith. There doesn't seem to be a lot developed there yet, but it does look nice. People are going to have to put a lot more time into that place if it is going to be even a fraction as good climbing as the Potrero. Pretty place for sure, though.

Craig Childre · · Lubbock, Texas · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 4,945

This place also seems to favor the moderate grades. (not a bad thing, just different) 11's up thru 13's, EPC is stacked with over 200 routes.

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0
Gunkswest wrote:I've been to EPC about seven times and Pena de Bernal (PdB) three times. Pena de Bernal is great, but as a stand-alone place, it can't compare to EPC. However, when PdB is added with Aculco (basalt trad) and Jiltopec (sport), I think it's better than EPC. Two caveats: 1) No really long routes like at EPC. 2) Unlike EPC, the easiest way to climb at the three areas is to have a car (we've rented a car in Mexico City each time). See: southernxposure.com.mx/
Are you counting El Salto as part of EPC?

Either way I was just in Mexico City and am now kicking myself for not checking out the climbing.

To the OP -- I found Hidalgo safe and the people very friendly. Nothing against you personally, but it seems kind of lame to smear their name publicly given that you have never been. There is loads of hearsay floating around about how dangerous EPC is and it makes me sad.
Craig Childre · · Lubbock, Texas · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 4,945

Two hours drive from EPC... While accessible during a trip to Potreo, I doubt many would include it. Talk erupted from our group about a day over at El Salto, till we found out how far away it was... plus how vast the options at EPC were.

Craig Childre · · Lubbock, Texas · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 4,945

Humbly suggest, the most dangerous threat in Potreo is the rockfall from other climbers. Just check out that tin roof building below Space Boyz.

Frankly, the most dangerous aspect of my trip was the cab ride across Neuvo Laredo from the bus station. That guy was doing 60 down these narrow residential streets lined with parked cars, in an overloaded old Toyota Tercel. :)

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128

I am in EPC right now and there is nothing even slightly concerning going on in or around here. It's not overcrowded. The canyon might have about 75 climbers in it in a given day and there are about 500 routes. It's less crowded than most crags in the USA on the weekend. I havent been to the area you're talking about, but comparing an area with 16 routes to one with 500 isint really a comparison at all. I think you missed out going there over EPC, but that's just my opinion.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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