Montañacervesiando… hmmmm… I guess “Mountainbeering” just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it in Spanish. This past January, I was lucky enough to tag along on a rock climbing trip to El Potrero Chico outside of the town of Hidalgo in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Spectacular limestone cliffs protrude out of the ground here, almost like the world is sticking its tongue out at you, just daring you to try to scale its lofty heights.
Most of the trip revolved around just that, roping up and scaling the beautiful, vertical rock face (here’s an earlier write up from my first multi pitch climb – Will the Wolf Survive). However, not many of these climbs brought you to the crest of the mountain range (although a few hardcore climbers that I met did indeed spend all day ascending the cliffs, so that they could bushwhack their way through cacti and other pissed off desert vegetation until they reached the top of the ridgeline only to then hike back down the side of the mountain. They returned scraped, bruised, cut, bloody, and with the fattest grins that could possibly fit across their smug little faces.) So I decided it was time for a Mountainbeering hike to the tallest peak in the area, El Toro, an elevation gain of over 2,500 feet.
Even though there were plenty of Dirtbags camping and squatting around El Potrero Chico, it was surprisingly hard to convince someone to go on an epic hike with me. What, you’re too busy drinking beer and not working for half of the year to take a day off from climbing and go for a hike instead? Still, I wouldn’t be deterred. I decided to strike it out on my own anyway.
The hike was brutal, yet beautiful… brutiful? And like I mentioned, all of the plants in the area are always angry; ready to jab all kinds of sharp parts into you if you’re not careful. To start the hike, you have to wander around for a good hour through all of the pointy plants as various trails start and end along erosion corridors. Eventually, as you dodge the blades of an overzealous yucca, you’ll find yourself stumbling along the main trail. From here it’s not too difficult to follow the path all the way to the top. There’s even some fun, class 3 scrambling for part of the journey.
Once at the top, the views were absolutely phenomenal. Since the limestone ridges jut out so abruptly, you get some awesome exposure. No foothills here; just cliffs and ledges.
I decided to spoil myself for this adventure and bring along the best beer I’d had since coming to Mexico. I had to pay an extra ten cents or so, but it was totally worth it – Indio brewed by Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma Brewery in Monterrey, MX. This is one of the two largest breweries in Mexico, and is responsible for such gems as Sol and Tecate. To be fair, they also produce some decent beers like Dos Equis and Bohemia. Indio is right in the middle, kind of a light, caramelly, malty goodness, and surprisingly drinkable for an after-hike treat.
After throwing a few rocks over the edge (throwing rocks seems to be a growing Mountainbeering theme) and dancing like a fool on top of the ridge for a song or two, I decided to head back down. It was mostly a rather uneventful decent, but every once in a while, an irritable cactus would get lucky and keep a bit of my skin with it as a souvenir.