Going to Peñoles always gets me motivated because it's safe to say that it's one of the places I've been going to the most, and the amount of projects accumulating grows. Each year more and more people show up and it looks like this year won't be the exception. A lot of climbers, many of which are very good friends, have plans for coming. You could say this area was my high school and university, to which I've put a lot of time and effort into.
The Toymaker PEÑOLES 2013-2014 - Diego Lopez Montull
This year was hotter the first month in comparison to the last few years, plus it rained a lot. Actually, I hadn't seen it like this in the 12 years I've been coming. I even got to see some of the rivers with running water, which kept the vegetation green all thorough until the winter. Rattle snake sightings became more common also, so you'd have to be real careful opening new paths or boulders. Just walking from your tent to the bonfire, you have to be careful since it's what makes this hot weather more dangerous with snakes and scorpions.
But even with the heat and rain Peñoles is a magical place to me, it's my home in Mexico. Peñoles is the place I always come back to, it's like a magnet probably because of all the work I put into it.
This year I particularly noticed that people from the near by villages know me very well, and besides having a lot of native rancher friends I found out I was in the local newspaper of Parral.
I feel a lot of respect as a climber in this region, people always want to help you out when they know you're a climber.
The first month I start by trying some projects and looking for new boulders. A few days into it and I manage to send a project called "La herencia del fuego" V12, it's one of those big Peñoles' lines on a beautiful large boulder. It's definitely a King line.
I was also able to do many FA first ascents, from V6 to V10, boulders that one day will surely become classics.
This same first month, I was happy to see that some Mexican climbers came for 4 days while others stayed for months. By this time around, one knows how a typical Peñoles daily routine begins, meaning how to live in the desert:
Wake up, make a fire for some morning coffee and breakfast and then decide which sector of Peñoles you want to climb or which boulder in particular. You come back late and after collecting dry wood, make a new fire and cook dinner. All of these things are common and easy to do when you have electricity or gas but doing it naturally takes longer.
Collecting wood and making dinner is probably the most tedious labor, imagine coming back after a long day's climbing and having to go look for fire wood and cooking dinner, sometimes you come back with up to 60 kg of logs for a couple hundred meters.
I personally see this as part of my Aztec training and each time I come back with a load, my arms feel warm from the workout. This motivates me but I sometimes hate it.
Still I really like the work needed, it makes Peñoles a climbing area where you have to learn to live and coexist in the desert, bringing down all preconceptions of everyday life. All this makes you question how much you need, television, Facebook, Instagram, etc. which you trade in for a cool talk in front of a fire, staring at it, cooking your own dinner or having to actually use your brain to see how to spend your time better.
On the second month, the weather starts to become colder earlier in the day but still not cold enough for the hardest projects. You can also see more people about the pace and the Peñoles scene becomes more of that of a popular bouldering area. I'm really happy to see that some of the boulders I did many years ago are starting to get repeated. Knowing that all those paths I made to the boulders are being used, specially after so much work put in, all those dreams becoming a reality.
Now it's not just my game but it's a playground for many others and all those boulders that were a dream to me are becoming the same for many other people. You could say I feel like a toy maker and that many new kids are coming over to play with them.
By the end of the second month new friends arrive: Daniel Woods, Dave Graham, James Webb, Paul Robinson and Shawn Raboutou.
The first day I took them to "Herencia del fuego" (The inheritance of fire) V12 which like I mentioned earlier, I had climbed on prior days. In less than one hour, everybody climbed it and after that, they did "Machete" V11 a boulder problem I had climbed years ago.
Later on, we started trying "El Intento" (the try or the attempt) probably V15 but hard to grade. That had me very motivated, trying my hardest projects with them, this one specially. After trying the moves separately, they were all done but linking all seven moves together is very complicated.
The next few days Dannie, Dave, James and Paul got really interested on two V14's I climbed some years back, "Marakeme" and "El lado activo del infinito". I was really keen on seeing how they were going to climb them or to see if the way I did it was the best solution or not. When you're climbing alone, sometimes you get the wrong beta for the FA. These were two very important boulder problems I did in the lapse of 3 years. Daniel did both problems in a day. Take Down! So impressive.
And so the days go on with these guys which are so easy going and really cool people to have around as guests. They're all really motivated, even though the weather hasn't been the best so far and hotter than normal.
We also had a great crowd at the fire by night, really fun with them here this year. It was also really cool to see them live the desert life as well.
Days go by really fast and thus ends my second month in Peñoles this year, which I focused more on a special project called "Palabras mayores" (Major words) V14, very good. To tell you the truth, it was way too warm to climb it and it's really hard to focus on one project when there's so much to climb.
Also, the end of the second month was specially tough for me since I had been there for two months already and then went on climbing on really hard projects with Daniel, Dave, James, Paul and Shawn. The last weeks were specially rough since I was also stung by an "alacrán" scorpion one day and cracked my head another. Pffff going through my mind:
Are you a warrior or not???
Hmmm so moving on, I still have the fixed idea of climbing many other boulders this season.
At the beginning of my third month, Daniel, Dave, Paul, James and Shawn leave Peñoles, I have to say that it was very "xido" cool to share with them the unusual lifestyle we all have climbing around the world and here in Peñoles, sharing the fire, the climbing and getting to know everyone better made for an excellent month. I hope everybody comes back next year, really cool team.
When they left, I stayed with two life long Mexican friends, Julio and Pablo with whom I began developing this along with other climbing areas in Mexico about more than 13 years ago.
And so I begin to count the days for this trip to end which stresses me a little ha, ok not so much but there are so many projects here that I'll miss. I give my all on a few last tries at two projects and I also have the idea of opening 3 new boulders each day.
The weather starts to get worst, the temperature rises and some days reach 85ºF which led to opening more "moderate" but really cool boulders from V5 to V10, some even harder.
Hard projects began getting harder and harder to try because of the heat, I always thought it was going to cool down but it didn't. I tried projects by night and opened new boulders by day until walking to the different areas became somewhat of a torture under the scorching sun.
With just a few days left I manage to climb three V12's, two of them last year's projects and an old one I hadn't done.
With this I finish my trip to Peñoles for one more year, but with the note that I wasn't alone for a single day of my stay and that was pretty nice. Also, this year was the one I've opened more boulders ever, a bunch of them not so hard but a lot of V8's on the first try for a total of 60 new boulder problems in Peñoles for the season.
So.. Game on! And now, Mexico City for a few weeks and off to Boulder, Colorado.