Last Updated on: 11th May 2023, 08:55 am
Oaxaca is a beautiful state in central Mexico home to world class beaches, incredible food, and a capital city bursting with culture. If you’re planning a trip through Mexico, Oaxaca is a must-see destination. And if you’re a climber, you’re in luck — there is some fantastic rock climbing in Oaxaca.
Table of Contents
- Best time to climb in Oaxaca
- Rock climbing at La Meca
- Rock climbing at San Sebastian Tutla
- Other climbing areas
- Rock climbing guides Oaxaca
- Climbing Gyms
- Wrap Up
If you’re heading to Oaxaca and wondering if it’s worth packing your climbing shoes, the answer is yes! There is climbing throughout the state, including two crags within 20 minutes of the city center (traffic pending). While these areas don’t boast the size of a place like El Potrero Chico, they still offer plenty of fun, varied sport climbs that can fill a few days.
Rock climbing in Oaxaca is growing in popularity among locals and foreigners alike. The community is still relatively small, which usually means the areas don’t see the same crowds as crags in the United States. There has also been a rise in gyms and tour operators which we will cover later in this article. The climbers I’ve encountered down here are really friendly and excited to share their knowledge with you.
Best time to climb in Oaxaca
Oaxaca weather is grouped into two seasons, rainy and dry. Rainy season goes from end of May to end of September, while dry season Is October through April. Obviously, the climbing is better in dry season. With that said, Oaxaca rain can let up for enough time to get out there and do some climbing.
Rock climbing at La Meca
La Meca is some of the highest quality outdoor rock climbing in Oaxaca city area. While small, this crag can go toe-to-toe with most of cities’ local crags stateside. The main wall boasts long, steep routes with the harder stuff offering a gradual overhang. The rock is incredibly featured with pockets, underclings, and plenty of edges to toss a toe on.
There are two main walls at La Meca. The first is a small and easier grades (5.10s) while the second offer longer climbs (5.11+ and up). You can find the area on mountain project, but it’s incomplete and lacks pictures so it can be hard to orient.
If you’re a 5.11+ and up climber, this is the crag for you. While there is some easier stuff, the crag as a whole can be rough on beginners. With that said, the routes often have approachable moves down low and sometimes even have the draws already up. As long as someone in your group feels comfortable setting up a top rope or you’re at peace with maybe losing a draw, it’s worth a go.
My recommendation is to look it up on mountain project and use the pin. That’ll take you right there. If you are taking a taxi from Oaxaca, tell them you are going to Santa María del Tule on Highway 190. You’ll come up and over a bridge, and after that it’s only a couple minutes. Take a right off the highway onto a dirt rode.
Before you climb, you need to pay. At the first right there is a road that goes up past a house on the right. Then you get a house that’s on the left with lots of animals. Beware because the dogs can be a little aggressive. Just stand at the gate and normally, the owner will come out. Tell them you’re there to climb and they will collect $20 – $50 pesos. If they aren’t there don’t worry about it, but it’s important to try!
Go back to the first dirt road and continue you up. Another 100 feet or so, you’ll take a right past a huge concrete structure. It’s someone’s home, so be respectful. Park on the other side of the dirt lot. There are some pups here that bark a lot, but are friendly. If you have a dog, they can be a little aggressive, but you can generally scare them off by holding your ground. This info is up to date at the time of writing, but might change so use caution.
Past the house is a trail. Continue up the trail for a few minutes until the brush gets thick and you come to a first break. Stay left. After this break, there are a couple other times the trail diverges. When it does, you want to stay right. You should see the cliff band, so when in doubt just choose the path going towards it. The approach is all uphill and takes about 10-15 minutes.
The first wall
When you arrive at the first wall, you should see a couple stacks of stone to sit on with a few routes directly in front of them. From left to right, they go at 5.10b, 5.10a, 5.10c. There are a few more next to them in the 5.10+ – 5.11a range, and one 5.9 further down directly to the left of a tree. The climbs here are short, usually 4 – 5 bolts then the anchor.
The bolting here is pretty solid. You should find relatively easy first moves and overall really well protected routes. If 5.10s are your sweet spot, you’ll find some really fun movement and features, despite how brief they are. If you’re looking to hop on something harder, then this makes for a great warm-up.
The main wall
Keep following the trail next to the wall and and around the corner. You’ll hop over a tree and be met with this view. You’ll probably want to stop and take it all in.
The wall starts fairly vertical, gets overhung in the middle, then pulls back a little bit at the other end. The climbs in the more vertical spots are in the 5.11 – 5.12 range while the stuff in the middle is 5.13 to 5.14.
To be honest, if you’re looking to hop on the 5.14s I can’t help you much with figuring out what is what because that is way out of my grade.
If you’re looking for a 5.11, check out the first routes upon walking in. You should see a bolt line that moves up a white stretch of rock with a ledge big enough to sit on midway up. This is a bouldery 5.11- that good fun.
The real gems on this wall are on the other end after the overhand lets up. There are 4 great routes in a row here — from left to right they are:
Pancho Villa: 5.13c I’ve never climbed but have heard is fun. It’s perma-drawed and starts with an easy scramble so anyone can hop on and give it a go without fear of loosing a draw.
Cerbero: 5.12- Super fun moves down low on pockets and crimps that give way to more varied holds up top. Getting from the final bolt to the anchors isn’t a gimme, so stay alert!
Quimera: 5.11d Maybe the best route at La Meca. Really fun pockets and underclings take you all the way to the crux right before the anchors. So much to grab, but not all pockets are created equally.
Medusa: 5.12+ Another route I didn’t spend much time on. Tricky first move, then sustained climbing to a crux below the crack.
Rock climbing at San Sebastian Tutla
For beginners looking to rock climb in Oaxaca, San Sebas is the spot. There are many more routes here than La Meca, including more easy and intermediate routes. All-in-all, there are over 70 bolted routes at this crag, though not all are on mountain project. A guide book exists, but where exactly I’m not sure.
The best way to get yourself there is to lookup Peñasco de las Reflexiones on google maps and route yourself to there. That’s the climbing area. But if you need more directions you can try the guide below.
From downtown Oaxaca head east out Carretera Internacional, which gets you into the town of San Sebastian Tutla. Keep an eye out on your left for Muro Mondragon, a climbing gym at 14 Carretera Internacional. You can find it on Google maps for reference.
About 150 feet past Muro Mondragon, there is a traffic light at Calzada Antonio de Leon. Turn RIGHT at Antonio de Leon and go about 200 feet. Go RIGHT about 30 feet and continue on Calle Constitucion. I don’t know the name of the cross street there where Calle Constitucion starts.
Go about 8 blocks through a little neighborhood and you’ll come to Calle Ferrocarril, a big divided street. Go straight across, and Constitucion will turn to dirt on the other side of Ferrocarril.
Continue for about 1/2 mile (very approximate, we were walking) and you’ll cross the river on a concrete bridge. Continue for maybe another 1/2 mile.
At this point, you’ll be at a group of three abandoned concrete buildings, the northern one is about the size of an outhouse, the next two progressively bigger. A trail appears on the left. Follow the trail uphill to the southeast for about 3-4 minutes, and you’ll be at the base of the left-hand end of the wall.
The first area you arrive at has a lot of 5.9 and 5.10 climbs. You can find the exact grade on Mountain project, but there is plenty of stuff to hop on.
El Cubo is a fairly popular one. It goes at 5.9 and is a slabby climb that ends on a massive square block at the top.
If you continue along the trail you’ll find two other sections of wall. Each has a solid collection of climbs with some routes getting into the 5.11 and 5.12 range. The bolting here isn’t as solid as La Meca. Some starts are really sketchy, so I’d recommend having a stick clip handy if it’s out of your comfort zone. The rock can also be a little crumbly at parts. If you’re belaying a helmet wouldn’t be a bad call.
Other climbing areas
La Meca and San Sebas are the two main crags around the city, but there is plenty more rock climbing in Oaxaca. About 3 hours from the city is Apoala — a gorgeous little town nestled up in the mountains. This is an area still in the early days of development by a local gym owner in Oaxaca, but has plenty of climbs to offer.
Climbing guide on this area coming soon.
Rock climbing guides Oaxaca
Its totally possible to climb n your own in Oaxaca, but hiring a guide has its benefits. You won’t have to deal with finding the crag or trying to figure out which route is which. Plus they provide the rope, draws, and even a harness meaning you have less to pack down.
If you’re looking for a guide, I’d recommend YahGul. Manual and Ernesto are awesome guys, strong climbers, and have been climbing in the area since they were kids. They also know and are allowed to climb at some area’s not mentioned in this guide, so you might get to experience a little piece of Oaxaca others don’t! If you are an experienced climber, don’t fret. They will let you do you’re own belaying and jump on whatever you want. Just let them know.
Rock climbing in Oaxaca doesn’t just happen outdoors. There are 4 gyms located in the city that offer a place to boulder and get in a burn if you’re passing through town. Prices tend to be about $80 pesos ($4.50) for a day pass. They provide shoes and chalk if you didn’t bring any down.
For a breakdown of all of Oaxaca climbing gyms, check out our guide.
Yes Oaxaca is the home of Mezcal and Mole, but if you’re looking to get out on some rock, there’s plenty to be found. Rock Climbing in Oaxaca can be a little tricky to get to, but once you’re there, I guarantee you’ll find routes worth the wait. Happy climbing!