North America, Mexico, Parque Nacional Cascada de Basaseachic, El Gigante, Bernat Pudent
El Gigante, Bernat Pudent. Last summer we flew from Catalonia to Mexico. We had seen pictures of the impressive west face of El Gigante and our goal was to open a new route. Although June seemed too late to climb this sunny wall, we decided to try it. We fixed the first six pitches in three days, before we left base camp. The temperature was about 40-43°C from 12:00 to 18:00, and we hadn’t enough bottles to pull up enough water, so we decided to climb in minimalist style, hauling less than 40kg of water and food, one portaledge, and the climbing gear. Planning to stay one week or less on the face, we had to open three or four pitches a day, so there wasn’t time to manage heavy haulbags. As it turned out we needed seven days to reach the top. We placed 20 8mm bolts and 17 rivets for belays, hand-drilled, and three rivets in pitches, two of them to avoid loose rocks hanging over a belay. We didn't drill any holes for hooks. The route begins to the right of Faded Glory, near a small group of trees, and follows a crack system to a half-moon-shaped roof, easily seen from the bottom, situated in the middle of the cliff. From this roof the route goes to the right, following a small ledge with sharp, spiky plants; you have to jump from plant to plant. After this the wall is less steep, and there is less aid climbing. The route has 26 pitches and a difficulty of 5.11c, with precarious protection and A3+. We named it Bernat Pudent (1,160m, ED+ 6c+[5.11c] A3+), Catalan for the Nezara prasina—thousands of these small, stinky insects filled the cracks.
As practical information we think that June is too late to climb El Gigante. During the last three days there were soft rains. If you want to climb on good rock, El Gigante isn’t the place. If you need the help of local people to reach base camp or return from the top, we suggest contacting Don Santiago in Huajumar or Don Rafael in Las Estrellas. They are excellent people who are very helpful and not only interested in money.
David Font i Ventura and Jordi Servosa i Roca, Catalonia