Cañóns : Prismas Basálticos, Paraíso Escondido, Grieta Negra, Brujas.
Party for Paraíso Escondido : Jack Ryan, Cristina hernandez, Luis Ramirez, Mirush Rebelde, Letici Herrera, Felix Ossig-Bonanno
I walked around a little getting a partial look at the falls in the dim artificial light. Normally you’d have to pay to enter, but due to the hour I’d been able to simply walk in.
In the morning I took a fresh look at the canyon. Below where I’d camped the canyon was quite wide, it’s edges decorated with impressive hexagonal columns. These form when lava flow comes into contact with a waterbody or other saturated medium like a swamp. On one side the barranca tapered off to a waterfall and short section of narrow canyon with several waterfalls entering from the sides. Above this was a dam. It was very touristy with lots of signs and fences, but still nice to see.
I decided to try sneaking into Santa María Regla, which lay in the bottom of the barranca. Apparently it’s…
…one of the most impressive constructions made by man during the 18th century, it was built between 1760 and 1780 by Don Pedro Romero de Terreros, the Count of Regla.
From the camping area I crossed the fence and climbed down a section of cliff. I left my pack in an overhang and continued down through the scrub. Reaching a wall, I scaled it in a couple of places despite the sharp pieces of obsidian(?) stuck in to the top. It was a long way down on the other side. I decided to return to a small portal I’d seen in the wall. It looks like it was now used for maintenance. Moving agilely through the cisterns, buckets and other odds and ends, I dropped down some steps into an open area. The main maze of ruins was ahead and to the left. I froze. There was a security guard. He hadn’t seen me. Quickly I moved forward until a wall hid me. Phew! This was fun! I chimneyed 7m down between two stone walls. One formed an archway, so I had to jump the last bit, some mortor crumbling down as I touched the ground. The impact echoed quietly through the dark tunnels ahead of me. I decided to have a look at the waterfall first and return to explore. The water es very brown, and I think the views from the top where just as good.
Returning to the structure, I explored more of the rooms, including some that were completely dark. One had a hole down into something that looked like it used to be a sewerage tunnel. “Someone’s escape hole” I thought.
[Dungeons where] …patients with smallpox and measles were locked up. In this ancient construction there are also labyrinths and secret tunnels that were used many years ago for the transportation of silver and gold.
I decided to exit via the main entrance. As I headed that way, I ran into a number of people. They glanced at me but didn’t say anything. I’m sure they all worked here and assumed I was supposed to be here too. I could feel the guards at the gate looking at me as I walked out. I returned for my pack and went again to look at the other waterfalls. The place had been modified a lot and I tried to imagine what it looks like before humans, but it was difficult.
I walked back to the junction, had some food and found out that Atzin had a death in the family and wouldn’t be coming to Mineral de Chico. I decided to head there anyway. Stopping a couple of colectivos I soon worked out I needed to go to Pachuca and then catch another to Chico. This worked well and I soon paid the 25 pesos to enter the Valle Diego Mateo Campground (more if camping). I wondered around for a bit and serendipitously ran into a group of canyoners about to head off… Their English was quite good. Initially I thought to follow them to the drop in, but they were happy for me to join and I quickly had the minimal gear I needed together. Stashing my pack in the back of one of their cars I was off on an adventure with Xtream Adventure México. We talked canyons for a while, most of them had canyoned in many areas around México. Jack, the group leader, even mentioned one in MTY I hadn’t heard of!
The route seemed a little confusing… the area has a lot of climbing routes creating a laberinto of trails. But jack navigated with a reassuring confidence. Soon we entered the drainage, pausing in a talus cave for some photos before reaching the first pitch. There are actually a number of options here. We dropped down the longest pitch (about 22m) avoiding the water, but a couple of other holes allow you to abseil in a little upstream (one of the new bolts was a little loose). I rapped down second to last. It reminded me a little of the pitch in the second constriction of Tigersnake Canyon (Australia). The rest of the group was only a short way down canyon. I watched Jack descend, grabbing a few photos before joining them. I decided to downclimb the short pitch that followed (multitool found at bottom) and managed to stem across the wet section that followed. By this point, most people had put on extra layers. With the wind it was quite chilly and I was glad I had actually brought an extra layer!
I believe there was an obvious escape before the next flurry of drops. I went first this time, quickly climbing up to a hidden anchor in an alcove where I fastened the end of the rope. Jack tensioned the rope with a Grigri allowing for a kind of guided repel for the rest of the group.
Again we traversed high. This was more tedious than traveling down the canyon proper but it meant we kept dry. At around 2900m in elevation the water (as I’d find out the following day) was chilly!
We didn’t do the last and what looked like longest pitch, instead using the well used exit CL (also one CR). We paused at a number of lookouts on the way back… I felt a little guilty not carrying a pack, but was happy nevertheless, as I was still felt recovering from being sick.
Back at the cars, I gave a copy of my photos and got some info on how to access the other two canyons in the area. We exchanged details and bid each other farewell. I went to look for the conector trail, but weariness got the better of me and I ended up crashing in a fantastic little camp spot under a boulder by the creek.
Here is a video Jack put together.
I woke with bad stomach pains and it was late by the time I finally set off. Every minute or so, I’d have to rest to let my stomach recover. I went back and forth a few times checking out some of the faint side trails. Nothing looked promising, though I did find an ancient building, crumbing away. Eventually I found the trail – I’d been looking on the wrong side of the dam… I must have misunderstood. With the correct trail, I quickly found the drainage I was looking for. A helpful couple helped me translate some directions, and soon I dropped in amongst the boulders of Grieta Negra. The cañón isn’t your standard cañón, you are basically navigating through the spaces between a bunch of large boulders. I found that a number of the pitches where quite easy to downclimb, but still needed rope on the larger ones. Whilst dark, there was no need for a headlamp. It would have been more enjoyable if it wasn’t for the insects! Swarms of them making me move quickly through the already short canyon.
Almost immediately following the end of Grieta Negra is Brujas. (Just follow the the small creek). This canyon had an entirely different character. It was open and had a number of pools. I managed to avoid most of them, but still got wet to the waist. Due to the elevation (2900m) the water was freezing! Again, a number of the pitches were easy to climb. The last could be bypassed CL.
Finishing the cañón, I helped a lost couple back to the cars and then continued down to the end of Paradisio (a nice camping spot). There were trails on both sides that linked to the exit we used the day before (the one CR is much better in my opinion). I ate some food here before heading back to pack up camp and head back into Pachuca.