Aculco is a large volcanic crag located to the north of Mexico City. The climbing is on volcanic columns that stretch for several miles in a small river bed below the desert floor. Most of the climbing is traditional and was developed back in the late 80‘s. There is a large number of moderate routes from 5.8 to 5.11 with a few 5.12’s. At the bottom of the wall there is a river with plants and trees forming a beautiful oasis.
Daniel, Alma, and I headed out from Mexico City over a weekend to meet up with several other trad climbers. The approach is non existent with the parking area right on top of the cliff. We didn’t know of a guidebook to the area so the first day was based off looking up at the wall and guessing the grade. We rappelled down the cliff to the base of two obvious cracks. Both routes were a lot of fun and in the 5.9 to 5.10- range with some huge loose flakes on them. After further inspection, they turned out to be very loose and we had a lot of fun prying the huge flakes off the wall. Further to the right we found some harder looking lines on small seams.
The area classic is a route called Kamikaze 5.11c. It starts out with a few bolts of fun technical edging then pulls over a small roof onto a perfect splitter tips crack. This route reminded me of Devils Tower in northern Wyoming. The next route we climbed was a 12a just a few routes to the left of Kamikaze. Narbonxi starts on a non existent seam that widens to pinky locks through the crux then wides just a little more to shallow tips. This route is one of my favorite trad lines and is quite technical with tiny gear.
The second day we warmed up on some moderate lines and checked out a brutally thin 5.11 with several 00 placements through the crux. From there the crack disappears inside a dihedral and some full on stemming with a runout leads to the top. It was really good to see the first ascensionist left out bolted anchors and instead stuck with traditional anchors. Afterwards my friend Daniel picked out a nice 5.8 to try his first trad lead on. After a brief lesson of teaching him how to place trad gear he started up the crack and lead it onsight with no troubles at all. All the pieces were very well placed and we celebrated on top of the cliff.
Overall the short trip to Aculco was a lot of fun and hopefully next time we will be able to find some harder cracks to establish!