North America, Mexico, Parque Nacional Baranca del Cobre, Dong Tower, the Main Vein

Publication Year: 2008.

Parque National Barranca del Cobre, Dong Tower, the Main Vein. A bachelor expedition for John O’Connor brought five friends to the rim of Barranca del Urique, in Parque Nacional Barranca del Cobre, Chihuahua, from January 9-25. We originally intended to climb sport routes in the sun, but poor weather and rock quality shifted our focus.

Nine years ago Sam Shannon caught sight of a collection of 100+ towers, located four hours southwest of Creel. Rough roads and foot trails provided us access to the towers, where we found no evidence of outside climbers, though the local Tarahumara people had previously climbed some of the easier 5th-class towers.

Chris Dunbar and I climbed the obvious continuous crack up the center of the west face of the largest and most prominent free-standing tower, which we called Dong Tower. We climbed it in a day, after fixing the first pitch and waiting for a weather window. Sean Jordan accompanied us on the day of the ascent but bailed after the first pitch because of ominous rock quality, flora, and large beehives. Five pitches later we finished our route, the Main Vein (500', 5.9 A2+), and briefly stood on the summit before beginning a twilight descent. We placed bolts at belays, equipping them with rap rings on the descent. We also climbed two other towers and several cliffs near basecamp. We experienced a large, rugged canyon teeming with people who are truly living off the land.

Ian Barrett, Colorado