American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

El Diente, North Face, El Son Del Viento

Mexico, Nuevo León

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Gareth Leah
  • Climb Year: 2015
  • Publication Year: 2016

The north face of El Diente is an incredible wall that interrupts the desert ridge of the Sierra Madre Oriental with its distinct tooth-like shape. I first learned of this giant wall in 2014, and not long afterward I decided to visit Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey and see the wall for myself. I fell in love with its incredible beauty and went about assembling a team to tackle such an endeavor.

From December 2­–21, Mexican climbers Octavio “Ocho” Aragon, Tiny Almada, and I established a new route up this wall, climbing and bolting ground-up over 18 days, fixing ropes as we went. Eventually we climbed the route from the bottom over two days, using a double portaledge and a natural ledge atop pitch seven. We were able to free every pitch except the third (5.12d A0) during our ground-up attempt, completing that lead with one fall. Two days after the full ascent, we returned and free-climbed the third pitch first try.

The route takes a more or less direct line to the summit through various limestone formations, including a number of tufa sections. The north face was attempted many years prior to our route, but the team was unable to complete the steep climbing to the summit. Relics of the 1960s attempt can be seen once you’re up on the wall and are a tribute to the boldness of the climbers of the era—true visionaries, generations ahead of their time. We called our 15-pitch route El Son del Viento (420m, 5.12d A0).We rappelled the route, using the fixed draws along the way to ensure we could reach each anchor, due to the route’s overhanging nature.

– Gareth “Gaz” Leah, U.K.

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