Climbing Destination Guide: El Salto, Mexico


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Climbing West Face of El Cap May 18 2017 My partner Leo and I...
El Cap
Climbing West Face of El Cap May 18 2017 My partner Leo and I...
Near the start of the West Face El Cap
Climbing West Face of El Cap May 18 2017 My partner Leo and I...
At the start
Climbing West Face of El Cap May 18 2017 My partner Leo and I...
Looking up from the bottom
Climbing West Face of El Cap May 18 2017 My partner Leo and I...

Climbing West Face of El Cap May 18 2017 My partner Leo and I...
Finding the East Ledges

Climbing West Face of El Cap

May 18 2017

My partner Leo and I just completed our first El Cap route, The West Face 11c. We are both fairly new long trad routes as we are more bouldering/sport climbers. A week prior, we did our longest route together, the 13 pitch Center of the Universe 11b at the FiFi Buttress.

We woke up at 3am from El Portal, ate a bagel, bathroom break at arch rock, parked at El Cap Meadow and started hiking at 4am. The initial approach was clear up until the end. We got off route and went down too much when we should have stayed closer to the wall. We found the fixed ropes and followed this to a clear view of route start. We arrived to the start at 6am.

Leo led the first pitch and I led the second pitch. The first pitch has a hard slab crux but luckily bolt protected. The 2nd pitch has a strange diagonal finger tip crack with glassy foot holds. We did our best to free climb it but resorted to French freeing the .11 crux moves. On the second pitch, I took a fall on the 10R part. It was a big fall(20ft?) but unhurt. Unfortunately these first 2 pitches took us 3 hours because of trying to free it. Since this was our first attempt, we should have just aided through the hard moves instead of wasting time freeing it.

Pitches 3-5 were easier climbing but were a little run-out so we were careful and didn’t move extremely fast. There were two more hard 11c steep finger crack cruxes at pitch 6 and 7 but they weren’t as difficult as the first two pitches.

After pitch 7, we let another group pass us up since this was the last bolted anchor before the Grand Terrace ledge. They moved through the first 2 pitches much faster than us. We kept pace with them until the last summit pitch.

The remainder of the pitches were easier but still hard a very different feel to Yosemite climbing. The cracks weren’t the smooth granite but a rougher quartz crystals. While cleaning on pitch 9, I dropped a .3 cam.

We got to Thanksgiving ledge around 5:30p. We took a little break here to finish all of our food. Thankfully, it was only easy climbing from here. We followed the route to the left and it was maybe 400 feet of easier sub-5.6 moves to the top.

We got to the top at 8p right when the sun was setting. We put on our approach shoes, packed the rope into the backpack and the adventure was just beginning.

It was our first time on El Cap and we had to get down: Either the 8.5 mile Yosemite Falls Trail or the East Ledges Rappel route.

We went for the East Ledges Rappel route as the party that passed us gave us some tips to stay comfortably close to the ridge line. Unfortunately, we went too high and had to cut back down. We got fairly lost and had to navigate through a maze of trees. With the aid of Internet, we found enough descriptions to locate a Carin trail marker and then with a GPS waypoint, we found rappel anchor. Since it was pitch black, we made sure to double check our rappel setup.

We did the 5 rappels, walked down the Manure Pile and back to the car in El Cap Meadow. It was 1:30am and we finished our first El Cap route!

  • 2000 feet of climbing
  • 1000 feet of hiking
  • 22 hours car to car


  • Bring offset cams, smaller cams
  • Learn where the East Ledges in the daytime ( GPS: 37.73283, -119.62406 ). Do East Buttress first to learn the descent route not in the dark!


  • 70m rope (we could have used a 60m rope)
  • Double set of BD cams: .3 to 3
  • 1 set of nuts
  • ~12 slings and carabiners
  • *Should have brought offset cams and smaller cams
  • 2 32oz water bottles with hydration tablets
  • 2.5L of water in camelbak
  • Beef Jerky
  • Salmon and Bagel
  • PB&J Bagel
  • 5 energy bars

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Another shot from Thorsten. This time in the roof on Chill Out Syndrome 7c.

El Salto is a sport climber’s paradise in the northeastern Mexico state of Nuevo León. Steep limestone walls extend out of the massive canyons...

The post Climbing Destination Guide: El Salto, Mexico appeared first on Moja Gear.

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