The next cave we visited is a massive 80m cave deep in the wilderness surrounding Guadalacazar. The cave holds the largest amount of routes and some of the best. The bottom of the cave is filled with hundreds of stalagtites ranging from very small stalagtites to massive 4m long stalagtites. Just seeing this impressive natural phenomenon is a unique experience. At the deepest part of the cave you can find inscriptions from the local people dating back to the 1800’s. The cave was originally used for ceremonial purposes for the recently deceased, but now sees very little attention and is very peaceful.
For the next few weeks I spent most of my time testing myself against the steep blank walls on the projects and succeeded in some amazing testpieces that are some of the best hard lines in Mexico.
Enki is located on the upper part of the cave on a blank steep wall surrounded by recently bolted projects. This route looked the easiest out of the three and I began the process of cleaning and working it. The first section follows really solid rock up tufas, crimps, and pinches to a quick shake before a three bolt long crux boulder problem through a steep roof. Finding a sequence through this roof was tricky and it really challenged my route finding skills. On the seventh attempt I was able to send completing my first 5.14 FA.
Gilgamesh is part of the three projects on the right side of the cave and is the hardest of the three. It climbs through the longest and steepest part of the wall. After my success with Enki, I was ready for a real challenge. This route hadn’t been cleaned yet so the first two burns were cleaning off the loose holds to find a sequence. The upper roof proved to be the trickiest part, because I kept ripping holds off. Every sequence I tried kept breaking over and over again. After 8 holds ripped off the wall, I was almost convinced that this project would be impossible. Then I started seeing some very subtle features on the wall that lead through a very hard sequence to the lip of the roof. Every move took thirty minutes to figure out and by the end it looked as if it would be impossible for me to complete. At the time I couldn’t grasp linking the moves together. Throughout the next three weeks I worked this route days on end. Every day I discovered some small little technique that would get me to the next hold. Finally after about 10 tries I found a small hold that made it easier through the first crux. Psyched on the new beta I went for the send burn expecting it to go. I started up the route hit the crux and made the powerful move to the hold. It held for two seconds before ripping out of the wall. Another hold broken and it seemed like I was done. Discouraged I tried to find a different hold for that sequence. Luckily I discovered a really bad three finger sloper crimp that was even worse then the previous hold but has just enough to hold yourself on for half a second. With this new beta, I started making progress. The tries started reaching the upper teens and I started loosing inspiration on the route. Finally I made a huge step and was able to one hang the route. Then I was able to one hang it three times in a day. I was so close, but something was wrong. I hit the last mental crux. So I decided to take three days off to properly let my body recover. Hiking back into the cave I was very nervous and felt weak. I had no expectations and I was expecting failure like the past several weeks. I went through my warm-up and gave the route a non committal burn and found myself at the knee bar rest before the crux feeling good and confident. I started the crux and as if I was in a dream, I executed all the moves perfectly. Before I knew it I was clipping the chains. The hardest route I have completed. Weeks of work paid off with one of the hardest routes in Mexico.
El Chubracabras 5.13c
El Chubracabras is my vision of the perfect line through the steepest part of the cave. Originally I intended this route to climb the whole cave in one pitch, but ten meters before the top is where I stopped due to a section of loose stalactites that would surely break off and leave a huge scar on the rock. Bolting a route this steep and this long is a journey and the first pitch took me several days to complete. It was my first time bolting ground up with removable bolts and through this process I learned a lot about equipping steep routes. The first pitch turned out to be a really high quality 5.12c named Ataque de Golondrinas. The extension tackles the largest roof in the cave to an amazing arete arch feature which leads to the anchors. This extension makes it almost twice the size of the madness cave and much steeper. With a V8 boulder problem 15 bolts into the route it is a true endurance test piece. After one week spent on the wall it was finally equipped and ready. I was able to send it on my first try after checking out the sequences and cleaning it. The route is 50m long and is possible the best 13c in Mexico.
San Cayetano proved to be the best cave I have climbed in and there are still four other climbing areas within a 15min drive of the cave. Metate is one of the smaller walls in the area holding eleven routes with two projects. One of the projects has fixed working draws and is the longest obvious route on the wall. On my first visit to the cliff I was fascinated by the line and I made an attempt on it to find out it was quite difficult. A really easy 5.10 start leads to a vicious three move boulder problem that ends with 5.12 climbing to the top. The three moves felt like a V10 boulder problem and very similar to a 13d I completed in Shelf Road Colorado two years ago. I put multiple tries into this one falling on the main crux move. Finally after four tries I was able to send and complete the first ascent. I named it Güero de Rancho (Blonde Rancher).
My trip was coming to an end and with my last few days I started bolting another line and started hauling gear out to get ready to depart. Soon I will be back with a stronger drive to find something harder and establish many more routes in the area.