North America, Mexico, Nuevo Leon, El Pico Erin, Xiuhtecuhtli

Publication Year: 2005.

El Pico Erin, Xiuhtecuhtli. Xiuhtecuhtli is named for the God of Fire of the Nahuatl Cultures. The route, located in La Huasteca Canyon on El Pico Erin, is almost 500m high. Erin is beside the sacred wall of Tatewari, Grandfather Fire to the Hiucholes.

Our expedition began December 27, 2004 and ended January 18, 2005. We started working on the route seven days after our arrival and finished on January 17. We were interested in the route mostly because La Huasteca Canyon is a sacred place for our people and ancestors; they believe it was where life started. We had never been there, but knew we had to go work on something special. The climb is not as weird as the shape of the limestone elsewhere in the canyon; Fire seems to be everywhere when the sun is coming up and going down. Lots of walls are like big thin flames that come out of the desert. Another tripping issue is the peak, with its symmetric pyramidal shape, the same formations on both sides of the wall. It gives the impression of being in front of a giant sphinx.

Our route could be rated 5.10+ or 5.11-, but the main difficulty is the rough terrain of the last pitches and the length of the runouts, sometimes of 10 or 15m. The route tends to be an adventure, rather than a multi-pitch sport climb, and we bolted on lead. Nevertheless, no trad equipment is required, as everything is set with big bolts and huge anchors. The nine pitches are up to 60m long, so a pair of 60m ropes is essential. Our route begins with three pitchcs in the middle of the face and some left-to-right fourth class to gain a ledge. On the far right end of the ledge is a big, black, vertical wall with bolts. This is our route. It’s very obvious and the easiest route on the wall to find. It can be climbed in one day, though an early start is recommended. The best season to visit is in autumn and winter; the area is in the Mexican desert, and in summer not only can the sun be a problem, but also snakes and scorpions.

Our story is simple. We were looking for something big in our lives, and none of us had ever created a multi-pitch route. Three boys and a girl with not a lot of years (ages 21-27) or experience, we started feeling magic materializing around us. The people we met helped us with everything we needed, from equipment and food to motivation. We were in the right place and time, with the right people, and the Universe did its thing and conspired to help us succeed. We have more stories that include killer falling rocks, portaledges collapsing in the middle of the night, big conglomerates of feelings such as fear, happiness, bravery, and uncertainty, but nothing you can’t figure out if you climb Xiuhtecuhtli.

Daniel Castillo, Pablo Fortes, Marisol Monterrubio, Marcos Madrazo, Mexico