Officially, this is the second highest mountain in Nuevo León state and also northeastern México, but as many people know, in México there`s plenty of discrepancy between the official records and the actual altitude readings; this is the only place in the state where my altimeter registers 3700 m time after time, opposed to the 3665 m "official" altitude.
Anyway you look at it this mountain is BIG; it raises 1700 meters from the valley floor on the east side and almost 1900 m from the desert plains to the west. It lies on the western edge of the Sierra Madre Oriental and it stands alone dominating the landscape for many miles around.
In a clear day one can see for hundreds of miles around into 5 states; the gulf plains of Tamaulipas, the Sierra Madre of Nuevo Leòn and Coahuila, and the high desert plains of Zacatecas and San Luis Potosì, this also includes all of the highest mountains of the region, from La Viga and La Martha to the north to El Viejo and Peña Nevada in southern Nuevo Leòn.
This is one of only a handfull of mountains that still receive some snowfall in the winter months.
This was one of the most severily punished mountains by the 1998 wildfires, wich destroyed 60 to 70% of it`s pine - fir forests on it`s north and eastern slopes, and subsecuently causing a good deal of erosion, giving it a barren and grayish look in some areas.
The summit is somewhat elongated and consists of three high points or sub-summits all at preety much the same altitude, the northern one is still flanked by tall pine trees, the central one is bare as well as the southern one where the highest point is marked.There is an aeronautics radar antenna ("the white ball") located on the central summit and a good gravel road leads to it from the village of 18 de Marzo.
Due to the elevation gain and the distance from major cities, this mountain doesn`t see very many climbers; it is a streneous hike no matter wich route you take, that`s why many peolpe climb it in two days.
There are two ways to approach the base of the mountain:
1.- From Monterrey, take highway 40 west to Saltillo, from there take haighway 57 south and drive about 120 km to the village of El Potosí (formerly Catarino Rodrpiguez) for the western route, this takes about 2 hours.
If you choose the eastern route, keep driving ahead about 10 km to the highway intersection at San Roberto, from there take the state highway 60 leading east (left) to the town of Galeana going past another highway intersection. From Galeana head north about 7 km to the village of 18 de Marzo and park by the main plaza. This approach takes about 2:30 hrs.
2.- The other way is driving south of Monterrey on highway 85 to the town of Linares (about 125 km), drive around on the loop then take the state highway 60 west to Galeana, this stretch of highway is demanding because it climbs through a gorge across most of the Sierra Madre Oriental, it is narrow and has a steep grade at times and it`s loaded with nasty curves; in rainy weather it gets worse due to a lot of rockfall and some mudslides. From Galeana drive north to the village of 18 de Marzo for the eastern route, (this takes about 3 hr). You can keep driving west to the San Roberto intersection then north on highway 57 to the town of El Potosí for the western route, (3:30 hr).
Many people prefer the first approach, it`s faster and safer.
No permits or fees are required to climb it.
When To Climb
Year round, but the best time is from September to March.
There are a few isolated spots along both routes for camping, wich is permitted. When climbing the western route, many camp by the little hut, of course there is plenty of room on the broad summit.
NO CAMPFIRES PLEASE!!!
This mountain has already lost most of it`s majestic forests so let`s try to preserve what`s left of them.