17 Apr New route on El Gigante – Mexico
Basaseachi National Park is perhaps one of the most recognized places of Mexico: located in Sierra Tarahumara (which is a part of Sierra Madre Occidental) hosts the famed Basaseachi Waterfall, Piedra Bolada Waterfall and a huge monolith known as El Gigante.
Here the Portuguese climber Leopoldo "Leo" Faria had done, together with Daniel Castilho (Mexican), Emiliano Fernandez (Mexican) and Joseba (Basque Country), the FA of a 400 meters route, called No Mamés 7c+ 5.13a.
Here is Leo’s report:
"The first time I’ve heard about El Gigante was in the summer of 2009 from a Mexican friend (Daniel “Wey”), who had been there a few years before, opening a route on the Basaseachi waterfall. A few months later he invited me to join with three other climbers with the objective of climbing a new route on El Gigante Valley.
Because there‘s not much information about the place, we didn’t really know where we were going to open or what kind of equipment would be needed, then, after three days of hiking through the jungle to carry over 300 kilos of equipment and food, we had the chance to see and pick the wall we feel more attracted to, so we set our base camp 20 minutes from Piedra Volada, an unclimbed 400meters beautiful and steep wall. When we made the first approach, we realized that it would take us at least another three days with many rope tricks, just to load all the gear to the base of the wall, and we only had 20 days.
We had to find a “quick” alternative, so we decided to try our luck on the famous El Gigante tower.
Most of the existing routes on this 900 meters impressive wall are aid routes and we’ve quickly understand why, the almost absent presence of natural protections, the poor rock and the brutal steepness, makes it almost impossible to free climb while you’re opening, so, most of the time you have to climb and wend your adrenaline starts to getting high, you try to hang on something, most of the times was on really bad hooks or even hanged with one hand and drilling with the other, really scary moments. Of course that this takes a really long time to progress but is the only way to make it possible to free climb…
There’s a positive side on that, as we could not be the four opening and climbing at the same time, we could explore and enjoy the endless bouldering potential all over the canyon field, at the end we opened almost 50 boulders, from to V12 range, good fanatic moments! Sure if it wasn’t the inaccessibility of the place it could really be an overwhelming place, with hundreds of boulders shaped by the river.
We spent the first few days avoiding the poor rock and the blank sections, so we could get faster at half of the wall, where despite the much more steeped ground, also seemed much more solid than the first part and apparently with much more options to natural protections.
Once again we were wrong! After 400 meters of brutal work, opening and cleaning to make it possible to free climb, we got to a place that just wasn’t possible to move forward (at least for us that were seeking a line to go free), huge sections of poor rock in every directions that we tried to move. We all had the same feeling, it was time to stop and climb the pitches we didn’t freed on our way up.
We could free climb all of them, except the second last one, that wend I finally solved the moves after two days of effort, I was shut down by breaking holds twice after the crux and I was too tired to try it again. That pitch together with the second, are the hardest one.
We must thank our sponsors and friends who supported us so much:
Petzl, Beal, Nuria, Martin, Varis, Omar, Diego, Santiago and Don Santiago."