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Sep 5, 2010
Parque Nacional de Basaseachic (or Basaseachi), or Basa for short, Chihuahua, Mexico, is about the width and depth Colorado's Black Canyon of the Gunnison. This amazingly immense and expansive area hosts almost no climbing routes.
Basaseachic is located in northern Mexico in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico's largest state. The rugged park is situated in a region known as the Barrancas del Cobre, a large rugged and steep 30,000 square kilometer wilderness containing the more well known Copper Canyon. The huge canyons of the area are deep water-cut gorges showing millions of years river erosion similar to the Grand Canyon. Basaseachic National Park is famous for its huge waterfalls, which are among the tallest in the world.
El Gigante is the major feature of the area. It's about 2800 feet tall and has five routes (three free and two aid). Cecila Buil and Carlos Garcia pioneered the first route in the 90's on El Gigante's Northwest face. At the time it required significant effort to get equipment to the bottom of the wall and Mexican porters were employed for four days (two to get in and two to get out) to carry in loads. Because of increased tourist and climber traffic there is now a well maintained logging road, that is drivable in most cars, to within a mile of El Gigante's summit. From here an hours hike will take you to the summit of El Gigante, or you can make an adventurous 2-3 hour bushwack to the bottom of the canyon. El Gigante can also be reached by hiking from the Casacada de Basaseachic all the way down Candameña Canyon on faint trails, past many waterfalls, in about 4 hours, or longer with heavy haulbags.
Besides the routes on El Gigante only the Cascada Wall (along Cascada de Basaseachic), has any other large climbing routes. All contain some aid climbing except for Subiendo El Arcoiris (5.13b, 10 pitches) a "sport" route that Peter Baumeister, Dierk Sitner and I established in 2001 on a prominent steep arete to the left of the waterfall.
The summer can be very hot but climbing should be possible on the shady walls. Fall and Spring are the best seasons with comfortable daytime and night time temperatures. Winter with its short days can have perfect conditions but also freezing temperatures and snow.
The Basaseachic area consists of andesite at the bottom of the canyon, to rhyolite in the middle regions, to super-pocketed and softer tuff at the rim. The quality ranges from bullet and unfractured to ultra-choss nightmares covered with cactus, grass and vegetation. In general Basaseachic offers climbing from smooth slabs to steep pocket pulling in every size between boulders and big walls.
In addition to El Gigante, the Candameña Canyon system provides more untouched medium size big walls up to 500 or more meters tall. In the surrounding ranges you can find enough sport crags to bolt for the rest of your life. A sport crag exists just outside the park at Rancho San Lorenzo with about 50 routes. The climbing is very fun and similar to New Mexico's Enchanted Tower.
Chihuahua Ciudad is the closest airport with international connections. Buses run regularly from Chihuahua to the village of Basaseachic. It is also possible to take a train to Creel in the Copper Canyon area south of Basaseachic and hitchhike to the village.
The main road south of the Basaseachic village leads to the main trail head and park entrance. It's a ten minute stroll from here down to the top of the Cascada de Basaseachic. The gift shops at the cul-de-sac parking lot offer cheap rooms with showers and firewood. Camping is also available here. In the canyons below the cul-de-sac there are several dozen sport routes and a hundred or so boulder problems.
The alternate entrance to the park, on the east side, is through Rancho San Lorenzo and owned by Fernando Dominguez. Fernando has nice cabins, a large bunkhouse with showers and camping. Fernando is very accommodating, speaks English and can help provide directions to El Gigante.