After spending two days climbing in the gigantic stalactite-filled El Chonta cave, the Petzl team took a rest day. They headed to downtown Taxco, navigating narrow, steep, and winding cobblestone roads in vans and busses. Starting at Taxco’s famous Santa Priscilla cathedral, with ornate stone and wood carvings, they toured the streets, full of vintage Volkswagen Beetles. The colonial town, a series of box-like buildings stacked on the the side of a valley and watched over by a stone statue of Jesus, is famous for its silver trade, attracting tourist from around the world. The team finished their tour in one of the town’s silver shops and then loaded on to a chartered bus for a six-hour drive back through Mexico City and north to the small farming town of Jilotepec.

St. Priscilla Church
Santa Priscilla cathedral in Taxco, Mexico. Photo: © Petzl / Justin Roth

In Jilo, the climbers set up camp in a large, unfinished house (the “Climber House”) with grassy field out front for RocTrip campers to pitch their tents. The first day of Jilo climbing fell on November 2, Mexico’s Día de los Muertos, or day of the dead. The weather was perfect -- cool and dry -- for the climbers as the made a quick hike up a hill from the house and to the crag.

Morning at the Climber House
Morning at the "Climber House." Photo: © Petzl / Justin Roth

Jilo is home to over 100 routes on a unique conglomerate rock. The climbs vary from slabby to nearly 45 degrees overhanging, but most are crimpy and technical, distinguished by long moves between embedded cobbles or small edges. The climbers all seemed excited by the style, which is completely different from El Chonta’s. The primary zone at Jilo is a freestanding monolith called El Huevo, short for El Huevo de Godzilla, several hundred feet wide and over 150 feet tall at its highest point.

Michael Fuselier swinging out
Michael Fuselier holding a swing on one of Jilotepec's hard routes. Photo: © Petzl / Lafouche

Despite their excitement with the area, few athletes sent anything other than their warm-ups. (The grading at Jilo is stiff, as the developers warned.) The four Ultimate Routes selected by local climbers Carlos Garcia and Javier Serratos were, for the men: Las Chicas Superpoderosas (8c+/5.14c) and The Mexican Guey (8c+/5.14c), both projects. For the women, the Ultimate Routes were Azoe (8b/5.13d) and Bell Tunnich (8b/5.13d), both awaiting female ascents. Though none of these routes went down on the first day, Michael Fuselier and Nina Caprez both managed to send an epic 150-foot 8a+/5.13c, which is normally climbed in two pitches.

Steve McClure climbing
Steve McClure on a long climb on the left size of El Huevo de Godzilla. Photo: © Petzl / Justin Roth

The overall vibe was muy tranquilo, with climbers from Mexico and around the world gathering in the flat, grassy field beneath El Huevo. The athletes tried the Ultimate Routes, but also spent time working on other hard lines, one of which was a project Dave Graham said would receive a 9a/5.14d grade at other crags. A few hundred feet downhill from the climbing, people from the local community sold food and drink for the RocTrip attendees.

Dia de los Muertos skulls
Candy skulls in the Climber House for Dia de los Muertos, each with a different athlete's name. Photo: © Petzl / Lafouche

The prevailing sentiment at Jilo after the first day was one of excitement. Emily Harrington arrived in the afternoon, straight from a trip to China, just in time to join the celebration. With five more days to go, expect some big things to happen. Check back soon for more...

-Roc trip photos