“La Eme” or the M is one of the most popular peaks in the Chipinque Ecological Park located only a few miles from the city of Monterrey, Mexico. This peak received its name due to the three “teeth” in the center of the Sierra Mountain which marks the southern wall of Monterrey. These walls at the summit of the Sierra Madre rise practically at a 90 degree angle. Climbing to the peak from the nearest parking area at the “Meseta” takes roughly 7-8 hours to complete round trip.
To get to the Park, drive from the city of Monterrey through Gomez Morin Avenue going south towards the Sierra Madre mountain range. Gomez Morin practically takes you directly to the park. Follow the signs guiding you to “Chipinque”.
Once you reach the park, you can start your venture by walking up the three trails that lead you up the mountain (Vereda 1, 2 & 3). Vereda 1 starts just a few meters from the park's main entrance. If you begin at the bottom (Vereda 1), be prepared to walk up an additional 1.87 km to reach the starting point of the trail. You can also drive up the main road to the Meseta parking area. The main trail in Chipinque that will take you to La Eme starts off there @ N25.60771 W100.35551 at an initial altitude of 1256 Mts. In total you will hike roughly 4.1 kms to the top from the Meseta.
Once you reach the Meseta, walk past the gate east of the slides (next to the butterfly cage). The Chipinque Park requires advance notice before you climb as described in the Red Tape & Park Fees section below. While not “official” you can often register with the guards at the toll booth and they will let you through. This second option is not recommended since they only allow a limited number of hikers up any given day. If the log is full for that day, you will not be able to go up.
The trail to the summit has three segments. The first part is a relatively easy 1.1 km hike heading west with a smooth yet constant climb. The difference in attitude in this initial stretch is only 137 mts. After walking this initial kilometer you will reach a sign marking a division in the trail either back to the Chipinque hotel (La Meseta), the Laberintos trail, or to the peaks. Coordinates for this “fork” in the trail are N25.60653, W100.35922. Go towards the peaks.
At this point, you will begin to climb through a long zig-zag straight up. You basically are slowly climbing up close to 400 mts to the next important fork in the trail located at N25.60225, W100.36213. To cover these 400 mts up the zig zag trail requires you to hike a total of 1.4 kms. There are only a few places in this trail where you may need to use both your hands and feet to advance. While this section is not very difficult, it does drain a good amount of energy.
After clearing the zig-zag you will reach a sign that divides the trail once more to either “La Eme” to your right or “La Ventana” to your left. Take the trail going right (west). After passing the sign you will once again walk 1 km towards the peaks. The trail in this section tends to decrease in altitude. You will walk through a pine forest right next to the area where the peaks go up at practically a 90 degree level.
At N25.60568, W100.36849 you will come upon a passage that you must take to reach the peaks. This section is locally known as the “Rio de Piedras” area (or Rock River Passage). You basically need to climb in order to end up on the south side of the mountain slope. Through this trail, the peaks are accessible only on the south side of the mountain. This climb is quite challenging. While no special equipment is needed, you will literally be rock climbing though the passage at a roughly a 60 – 70 degree angle for the next 300 – 400 mts. At N25.60478, W100.36884 you will finally be able to see the other side of the mountain.
From here you only have a few more meters to go. You will be able to see the cross at the center Eme peak. Follow the trail towards the peaks. In some areas you will need to rock climb various boulders. The trail, or what remains of it, takes you to the very top of the peaks. Enjoy the view!
When To Climb
While the climb can be made throughout the year, Monterrey’s weather can get really hot in the summer months, often surpassing 100ºF. August and September tend to bring showers. If you start early (say at sunrise) you can make the climb up and back in time for a late lunch and avoid the hottest time of the day.
Red Tape & Park Fees
You will need to pay a fee to enter the park (varies if you walk or drive up) as well as to climb to the peaks.
The park administration requires you to send an advance notice in order to climb to the peaks. You can download the form directly from their website and e-mail it to the offices (http://www.chipinque.org.mx). Request forms are received only Monday through Thursday from 9:0 AM to 6:00 PM. The park also offers guided tours to the peak at a reasonable cost (roughly USD$90 for a group of max 5). Park also requires that all ascends to the peaks commence no latter than 10:00 AM. You will need to leave an ID at the booth when you register.
Camping is allowed at the Meseta del Epazote (25° 35.718'N, 100° 20.363'W). To reach the Meseta, walk on the Empalme trail that heads east on the Meseta. On the 3.1 km mark, you will reach a water fountain. Take the trail that runs south (take your right towards the Sierra Madre). You will need to fill out a camping request form and e-mail it / fax it to the Park's offices Monday through Thursday between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Check the External Link section below for more info.
For Camping and Permits:
GPS routes in Chipinque:
Do some geocaching while you are there!