Right about the time the winter holidays start showing up on the calendar, I head to the quaint little town of Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. For the next few months, most of my waking hours are spent in or right around Potrero Chico Park. In that park sits a canyon, filled to the brim with limestone walls towering 2,000 feet above our flat, rocky campgrounds. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, this somewhat hidden nook delivers some of the best multi-pitch sport climbing in the world.
There is a constant community of climbers here. Some people are climbing as much as they can fit into their ten-day vacations, while some of us tend to have a more relaxed approach knowing that the walls will offer us many more of the same opportunities in the time to come. I’m a professional photographer, so I’m out at the rock shooting for a job as often as I am out there to just climb up some walls with friends. That also means that a vast amount of my time is spent in the local coffee shop sending out pitches, editing and processing photos, and all of the other standard work practices. This setup is similar to so many of my friends that spend their entire seasons down here. Computer programmers, marketing specialists, copywriters, and media consultants all seem to come down so they can continue to be productive with their remote work while taking supreme advantage of Potrero Chico being their backyard. So what does a day out there look like? Take a look.
The strong presence of coffee is here just like in so many other places in the world. Runs to the local coffee shop are frequent, especially on days when the farmer’s market is bustling a black away.
Market days leave you stuffed to the brim with the sweetest orange juice imaginable and numerous other favorites. Crickets are often one of the first things shared with visiting friends.
It’s only a thirty minute walk from our campgrounds to town, so we’re always spotting amazing scenes on our way back and forth.
Once the morning has been fully enjoyed, there is always one more stop after dropping off groceries and grabbing climbing gear. A stop at “Puppy Gate” is a must, where this guy and his equally adorable sister come sprinting your way at the first sound of a whistle.
Outings like these are what make Potrero so enjoyable. Rope length by rope length, my climbing partners and I make our way up these inspiring walls.
While some days it is the big walls that a climbing partner and I will have our eyes set on, many times its heading out in a pack of friends, meandering between different sections of rock, and climbing what excites us that day. Sometimes, that means you’re going to be exhausted to no end by the time the sun goes down, while others you’ve taken it easy and are ready to keep going.
On the days where there is lots of energy bursting at the seams, climbing routes at night is an amazing venture. Routes that seem so familiar during the day give your brain a whole new puzzle when your view is confined to a headlight’s glow.
The walks back home after long days like these are special. Even with the delicious food and warm showers back at camp waiting for you, I always find myself pausing at this unreal place.
The people who calls those tiny houses and tents home make this place one of my favorite in the world. It’s a pleasure to work and live here for months each year. Nights are often pretty short, with a long night’s sleep a treasured and precious commodity when we do so much during the day, but sometimes the setting moon and night stars put on a show too good to pass on.
about the author
Carter is a published photographer and writer, always finding new expanses to be creative. She spent much of her adulthood in Panamá, but is now back to being all over the place. As a climber, she tries to spend more time in the mountains than anywhere else. She captures people and creatures in their element all over the world. Her editorial projects – produced when she becomes a fly-on-the-wall photographer and writer – best show off the immersive style of her work.