Ethan and Friends


Following is a list of routes I climbed during my trips to El Potrero in 2002 and 2003. It may serve as a tick list to those of you who have never been there. It may be nothing but useless information.


I’ll tell you my climbing levels and of the grading system at Potrero. This may help you to decide what routes you attempt. I’m a Gunks climber. I lead up 5.8+ at The Gunks,, follow 5.10 and will TR 5.11. Sport climbing at Potrero is way different than Trad Leading at The Gunks. I generally sport lead to 5.10 b in The States. I found the grades to be softer at Potrero. At Potrero I led routes to 5.11a. Every 5.11 I attempted I onsighted, with no hangs or falls.




That is I struggled on 9’s. I flew up 11’s. For instance: There are two climbs side by side at The Mota Wall. They were put up by the same party, at the same time.  “Cactus Dancer” is rated 10b. The climb next to it put up by the same party, “La Vaca” is rated 9 (1st pitch). I would say that both are 10b and that 5.9 is a big sandbag. Anyhow….on with the list!


Las Estrellas:

1.        Estrellita: 12 pitches 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.8 3rd class 5.7 5.7 5.10b 5.9+ 5.10b 5.10b 5.8

This was an odd climb. The 5.7 pitches were more like 5.3. The route is dirty. Of the 12 pitches I thought only 4 were worthwhile. The summit is nice. The fixed line down from the summit is scary scrambling down loose rocks and vegetation – someone recommended to use afterwards that you should put the fixed line through your belay device rather than just clipping onto it.  The rappels were really scary. If your rope gets stuck on the rappels you are totally screwed because you're rapping off the other side where there are no routes. Clip into the fixed line on the 2nd rappel for safety – you’ll get very close to the end of your rope on that one.  From the ground it looks like a beautiful line. Not a climb I would repeat.  Interesting, but not great.



Mini Super Wall:


This is a wall with lots of moderates. I would highly recommend this be your introduction to climbing at Potrero. Easy approach and good way to get a feel for the grades and what climbing is all about here.

1.        Honor Among Thieves: 5.8. Easy

2.        Left  Over Man: 5.9. Tricky.  This climb was very hard for me.  O.K. climb.

3.        Hey Buddy You Gonna Eat That? 5.8. Easy , fun.

4.        Cerveza  5.10b Did ya know? Cerveza is Spanish for beer. Good climb.



Mota Wall:


This may be the most popular wall at Potrero. There are tons of STELLAR climbs on this wall. My favorite climbs on this wall were Snott Girlz, Tlaloc, and Cactus Dancing. I never got to do Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. Wish I had!


1.       Emilio’s Posse. 5.9. Pretty good.

2.       Monkey Boy. 5.11a. I top roped this. A gem!

3.       Snott Girlz. 7 pitches 5.10d, 5.10d, 5.10b, 5.9, 5.9, 5.9, 5.9. WOW!!! This is one hellava good climb! A classic. I ran the first two pitches together. 200 feet of 5.10d with out much of a let up. Kicked my ass!! Friggin hard!! The upper pitches are beautiful. There is a tricky traverse with a great photo op. The summit pitch is very tricky on very loose rock. The rappels are unnerving.  The rap between pitches 5 down to 4 took us a little past the end of our supposedly 60m rope (put a knot in the rope and bring something long to clip into the anchors below you with).  Don’t get stuck rapping in the dark, the rap stations aren’t always straight down and would be hard to find in the dark.

4.       Tlaloc: 5.10b. Great face climbing. A really nice climb. Loved it!

5.       Cactus Dancing: 5.10b. Really, Really, Really, I mean really good face climbing. One of my favorites at Potrero.

6.       La Vaca: 5.9. A SANDBAG. Should be 5.10b. (I only did the 1st pitch).  First bolt is way the hell up there, bring pro, Jannette used a couple of large nuts.

7.       This Dog’s Life: 5.10a. excellent climb

8.       Caguama Queen: 5.9.  Lots of fun.



Las Aqujas/The Spires:


A beautiful formation. Not to be missed.


1.       Aguja Celo Rey. 2 pitch, 5.10c, 5.10c. A marvelous classic. It is perhaps the most beautiful line at Potrero. The route was put up by locals in 1963. It’s very well protected. The first pitch is trickier than the second.  The last pitch is so sweet (and exposed!). A must do!



La Selva/The Jungle:


1.        Las Chimuelas. 3 pitches. 5.8, 5.9, 5.8. A very easy and relaxing route. Nice photo op with the pavilion serving as a backdrop.

2.        Jungle Mountaineering. 4 pitches. 5.9, 5.9, 5.9, 5.10a. Another sweet route. I ran pitch 1 and 2 together. Also ran pitches 3and 4 together. So I did 4 pitches as 2. I rate the entire climb as 5.10.

3.        Space Boyz: 11 pitches. 5.8, 5.9, 5.9+, 5.9, 5.10d, 5.10b, 5.10, 5.9, 5.9.. This is the most popular multi pitch at Potrero with good reason. I loved this climb. It took Bob and I eight hours to complete and we were moving pretty fast. 6 hours up, 2 hours to rap off.

There are two climbs on this wall I wanted to do, but never got a chance to. “Yankee Clipper” 15 pitches, and “Black Cat Bone” 9 pitches.



The Central Scrutinizer:


1.       Blood Meridian. 5.9. Decent climb.

2.       Golden Puff. 5.10d. Great climb! If you can find all the handholds rate it 10b.

3.       Sabroso. 5.9. O.K. climb.  Tricky high reach at a small overhang.

4.       Joe’s Garage. 2 pitch. 5.9, 511a. A CLASSIC!! The first pitch was tricky. I took one look at the rusted homemade hangers on pitch 2 and declined. I hear it’s great though!

5.       Mecasuit. 2 pitch. 5.10a, 5.11a. I just did the first pitch. Very tricky clip in a bowl like depression at the crux. Helps to have long arms! Everyone said move left at the crux. Of course I moved right. Oh well….I got it anyway.

6.       Quick Draw McGraw. 2 pitch. 510.a, 5.11a. I led both pitches just before leaving to catch my flight home. First pitch is kind of awkward.  Very thoughtful, committing crux move high off the deck on the second pitch. Just do it!!



Buzz Rock:


This is a little crag off by itself. It’s really neat. There is a working mine on the way up to it. Here you can pick up lots of neat quartz crystals.


1.       Zooze. 2 pitches. 5.9, 5.9. Nice climb! Crappy repel anchor!

2.       The Fez. 3 pitches. 5.9, 5.8, 5.10d.  Another very nice climb. Jannette led pitches 1 and 2. I led pitch 3. Thoughtful crux move right off the belay.

3.       Dig Hay Zoose. 5.9. Nice pockets.

4.       Graphite and Glitter. 5.8. More nice pockets!

5.       Babylon Sister. 5.9+  Good climb.



That’s about it. There are two walls I never got to. I wish I had more time. The walls I missed were “The Ola” (The Wave) and The Virgin Canyon. If I ever go back, and I’m sure I will….I’ll make sure to hit them both!


Last updated: February 2003