Oriol Anglada tackles one of the offwidths on his new route, Via Lactea (III 5.12c, seven pitches, Anglada-Anglada, 2006) on the Penon Blanca, Durango state, Mexico. [Photo] Oriol Anglada collection
The Catalan couple, Marisol and Oriol Anglada, have recently added a ninth route to the beautiful ca. 350-meter southwest face of Penon Blanca in Mexico. The 1948-meter Penon, which lies close to the town of Yerbanis in the semi desert of Durango state, is one of the country’s most important rock climbing venues, featuring a continuous wall of fine golden granite that ranks amongst the highest in Mexico. Initial attempts were made on the face during the 1970s, largely spearheaded by Sergio Fitch, but success was hard won and it was only after six visits that the wall was finally climbed–by Eduardo Mosqueda via a route toward the right side. More recent additions, which have concentrated on the central and steepest section of the face, have resulted in Lluvia de Estrellas (5.12b A1, five pitches: Carlos Garcia-Emiliano Villanuava, 2001), Irritilas (5.11a, seven pitches, Carlos Garcia-Jorge Colin, 2000), Viaje a Aztlan (5.10a A?, Sergio Fitch and friends, date unknown) and Mi Flaquita (5.10a A?, climbers and date unknown). However, the impressive, smooth, middle section of the central wall, between Lluvia de Estrellas and Irritilas, remained virgin until the Angladas’ visit.
The Angladas spent three days, from November 14-16, equipping and then red pointing this middle section of the face to create the seven-pitch Via Lactea (5.12c or 5.12a C2). It was a wonderful route comprising thin face climbing, finger to offwidth cracks and a chimney. As with all other modern routes here, the climb was bolted, though commendably the pair chose to hand drill (37 bolts including belays). However, two sets of Friends plus a Camalot 4 and some TCUs are necessary on the route. Oh, and take along plenty of water.
The central section of the ca. 350-meter southwest face of Pe?on Blanca (1948m), Durango state, Mexico, showing the topo of new route Via Lactea (III 5.12c, seven pitches, Anglada-Anglada, 2006). [Photo] Oriol Anglada collection