northern Mexico

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northern Mexico

by xDoogiex » Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:25 pm

Thinking about doing Guadalupe Peak in Texas and then maybe crossing the border into Mexico on a trip. Don't know anything anout mountains in Mexico. Trip might be the end of December if it happens. Any suggestions on what to check out?

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Garon Coriz

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by Garon Coriz » Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:39 pm

The Guadalupe Mountains are supposed to be a lot of fun but I don't know much about the terrain across the border. I do know that the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces look pretty cool. I think there are supposed to be some interesting mountains near Monterrey, Mexico as well.

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by Baarb » Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:15 am

I would check out a lot of local safety advice.

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Sarah Simon

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by Sarah Simon » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:43 am


Consider carefully your transportation options if heading across the border. Standard USA-based automobile insurance does NOT cover you and your vehicle in Mexico. As a result, you'll want to either a) arrange for alternative transportation or b) purchase special coverage for your visit.

At the risk of offending anyone on SP from or with relatives from Juarez, Chihuahua, your principal border crossing south of El Paso, I was not particularly impressed with the town. To be honest (and I've done quite a bit of travel in so-called "3rd world" countries in Asia and Latin America) I did not feel safe nor did I feel welcome in Juarez.

I wish you the best in your adventures and surely don't want to be a wet blanket on your plans, but do procede cautiously. Most of Mexico is a wonderful country full of warm, welcoming people. Unfortunately, La Frontera (the border region spanning both Mexico and the US) tends to attract some less desirable folks who may not have your best interests in mind. The people smuggling [edit: to clarify, I mean the smuggling of human beings] and narcotics trades have provided fuel for escalating violence along the border. These are not your every-day "thugs" or petty thieves, these are members of narco-cartels and organized crime gangs.

Maybe you could consider waiting a few years for things to stabilize to plan your visit?

Then again, a resident of El Paso or Tucson or San Diego might chime in to say they cross the border in their own vehicle with no special precautions and have no concerns and that I'm just a Colorado worry-wort.

Have fun!

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by lcarreau » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:19 am

I'm just a "gringo" from Arizona.

Have you considered some of the desert peaks and mountains around Tucson, Arizona?

Why would you want to travel to a place where you might not feel welcome ???

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by TacoJockey » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:42 am

I've never gone climbing in northern Mexico, but I have spent some time bumming around down there. Maybe I can put together some semi-coherent advice:

I'll echo what everyone else has said: Don't linger around the border. I've found the people of Northern Mexico to be extremely warm and friendly, but the border is not a place worth staying.

Don't drive. The public bus system is reliable, comortable, and cheap. Since few Mexicans drive, the public transportation infrastructure is quite extensive. Travel guides such as Lonely Planet have very good information about bus routes between and around major cities. And this may not be your cup of tea, but I can tell you from experience that hitchhiking is alive and well in some of the more remote areas.

Don't worry about drug violence. You will not be targeted, as you have nothing to do with the drug cartels. Innocent people occasionally get caught in the crossfire, but the chance of this happening to you is exceedingly low.

Check out the mountains near Monterrey. I hear it's a pretty good city for climbing.

Learn a few words in Spanish, and you will experience the legendary Norteño friendliness. It's definitely a region worth exploring.

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by xDoogiex » Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:10 am

Thanks for the advice. At the moment it was just a thought. I've seen the episode of gangland about las vetas and don't wanna get burned alive in an oil drum or have my head sawed off. Was just thinking it would be cool to hit something up outside the us. my dad found my birth certificate so I can finally get a passport

lcarreau I wanna go out to AZ. I wanna hit up Humphreys peak abd I always wanted to check out phoenix

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by cp0915 » Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:30 pm

You might consider sending a PM to Matthew Holliman. He's spent quite a lot of time bagging the ultra-sweet peaks around Monterrey.

I'm headed down to the Organ Mountains, Tucson, the Superstitions and the like around the end of December. Looking forward to it!

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by surgent » Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:37 pm

sarah.simon wrote:...Then again, a resident of El Paso or Tucson or San Diego might chime in to say they cross the border in their own vehicle with no special precautions and have no concerns and that I'm just a Colorado worry-wort.

A select few areas south of the border allow one to drive their vehicle in from the USA in so-called "hassle-free" zones. Normally, driving any distance into Mexico would require you to register the vehicle with Mexican authorities, a big paper-work hassle. These hassle-free zones usually involve high numbers of American tourists to popular Mexican locales. Whether you get hassled by other means is an open question. Mexican insurance is still a requirement.

I think having a reasonable amount of concern is good. Many of the more remote areas near the border are essentially lawless in the literal sense of the word. It's a shame since there are some fine peaks plainly visible just over the line, but seemingly a world away sometimes.

Some of the border areas are safer than others, and frankly, you might experience more of a hassle on the American side depending on where you are. Juarez is a mess and I personally would avoid it. The border towns along the Arizona line vary: Agua Prieta is nice, Nogales is okay, Sasabe is scary, Sonoyta seems okay, San Luis is a mess. Some towns are literally on the border and you may as well walk over and catch a bus. Others lie a few miles inside Mexico, in which case it may be okay to drive in and park in the town if you feel it is safe to do so.

My wife and I encountered some (human) coyotes on a hike in the Huachucas in Arizona, and later some Border Patrol on patrol guys who affirmed that we are quite safe despite our encounter. The smugglers, as wretched as they are, generally leave civilians alone. Bad for business. I have bush-camped in California within a half-mile of the border with no issues. On the other hand, I have a very real worry about exploring the Cabeza Prieta in Arizona due to its ongoing smuggling problems - I don't feel safe being within 10 miles of the border, much less a mile. Again, some places you'll be 99.9% fine, other places have cause for concern.

If you want a peak in northern Mexico, want to drive over and feel generally very safe, and visit a truly amazing, unique environment, go check out Cerro Pinacate in northern Sonora: ... acate.html

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Matthew Holliman

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by Matthew Holliman » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:47 am

How long a trip are you planning on?

I haven't done any peaks around El Paso (yet), but I've climbed a fair number around Baja, Southern AZ (Phoenix/Tucson/Organ Pipe NM areas), Big Bend, and Monterrey. But a lot of these are a long drive from there. (By "long", I mean a very full day or even two.)

The peaks around Monterrey are very cool indeed, and some of them (Copete de las Aguilas, Pico Piloto, etc.) rank up there with the best scrambles I've ever done in the desert (or anywhere, for that matter). The people down there are wonderful too--incredibly friendly. I miss the city a great deal. But it would be a very long drive from Guadalupe. From Monterrey to Big Bend is a good 10-11hr drive in total. I'd have to imagine it's several hours longer to drive from the vicinity of El Paso down to Monterrey. Well worth it if you have the time to spare, but you'll need to budget a bunch of time for driving.

Big Bend may be an option; there are some nice peaks there, and the drive would be more reasonable (but still long) than heading anywhere in Mexico. Cerro Castellan in particular is a fun scramble. A loop around Emory Peak and back along the rim is also quite memorable.

If you consider heading into Mexico for Cerro Pinacate, I'd suggest you revise your objectives and just head to Organ Pipe. Kino Peak, Montezuma's Head, and Mt. Ajo are all more interesting peaks IMO. Kino is a cool and somewhat improbable scramble.

FWIW, my fiancee works in the State Department (she used to work in Monterrey, which is why I had the chance to climb a bunch of peaks down there). She knows people who worked in Juarez for a while, and who encountered gunfire just going to the supermarket. I would drive through that town as quickly as possible. (Even towns like Nuevo Laredo and Chihuahua were unwelcome enough.)

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by RedRoxx44 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:51 pm

Border crossings now can be a pain for sure and it is highly variable your experience once you are in Mexico. I've had no real problems when hiking and backpacking near the border, more with angry ranchers on this side of the fence. The disappointment with the Huachucas especially is the amount of trash and degredation left behind by large parties of border crossers. Really detracts from that wilderness experience.
Personally I like the Cabeza Prieta. I've hiked and camped solo in there a number of times and had no problems. The border patrol now has two semi permanent stations at Bates Well and near Growler pass. There are some small nice desert peaks to bag there that you won't see another person on. And some of the best unchanged ( improved) desert scenery anywhere.
I've met over the years lots of illegals coming over mainly when I lived in California and hiked a lot in Anza Borrego and southern San Diego area. As a solo female hiker that gave me pause but no problems.
FYI---in the Cabeza along the El Camino if I leave my vehicle for any length of time I leave out some water and food. I figure if someone is desperate would rather help that have the vehicle vandelized. I've never had any break in problems despite coming back and seeing lots of fresh footprints around the Jeep.

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by xDoogiex » Mon Oct 19, 2009 4:41 am

Awesome thanks for the info. I just bought a car so idk when it would be now. Gotta start saving back up. Maybe I could pull it off the following winter

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by xDoogiex » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:10 am

finally looked up Copete de las Aguilas. that place looks amazing

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