Timewave Zero


I stop to catch my breath and look up. Above me the summit of El Toro looms. Today me and my partner Zach are going to reach it. Our route? Timewave Zero, formerly the tallest bolted line in North America. Towering at 23 pitches and 2,300 feet, it’s around the size of Half Dome. We have woken up at 5:30 am to begin climbing, and are currently on the hike up to begin. Or plan is to be done with the climb and down in time to scoop a couple cappuccinos at El Buho. In retrospect this plan is highly ambitious.

I’m mainly a single-pitch sport climber. I’ve dabbled in most forms of climbing, including some misadventures in the alpine, but for the most part I remain unfamiliar with the systems we will need to get up and down beyond not getting myself killed. Therefore, I’ll be relying upon Zach for his knowledge. We’ll be doing a technique on the way up called “simul-climbing.” It allows both climbers to climb at the same time, instead of one climber belaying and the other climbing. It’s a great time saver when moving over easy terrain, but a bit more dangerous if done wrong. I’ve never done it before and the prospect is intoxicatingly exciting and terrifying.

Huffing and puffing we finally arrive at the base of the wall and search for our route. I shuffle along the cliffline and look for something familiar. “Alright, let me look around.” I say. “I haven’t been up here in a couple years.” It’s an easy find. There’s literally a metal nameplate at the base. “Timewave Zero.” Accompanying the route’s nameplate is another one memorializing a climber who died on the line years prior. It’s a great sight to start our day.


We throw our backpacks down in the dirt and begin gearing up.

“Ok Zach, run me through the system.” I say. “And I’ll ask you to remind me again once we get to the part where we actually simul.”

Zach removes a couple devices from his rack and shows me each one. “So I have two different devices. This is a Climbtech Rollnlock, and the this is a Petzl Micro Traxion. So what you do is clip the locker directly in a bolt or a chain or whatever. Lock it the biner, and then before you lock in the trax put the rope through.”

I reach out and take each one, and play with the mechanisms. “Ok, so it’s kinda like a gri gri. You put it in and then close it”

“Yeah. See inside this one?” He points at the diagram of the little climber on the device. “Load, hand.”

“Cool. Sounds simple enough.”

He pulls his rope out of his backpack and begins to flake it. We’ve elected to take his instead of mine. “Wait, so explain to me what’s so special about this rope?” I ask.

He holds up a strand of it. “There’s this layer of glue. If the sheath gets cut, it normally exposes a big old section of core. But the glue just keeps it covered.”

“But thats the coolest part of when a rope cuts though!” I exclaim. “When it just explodes! That’s what you want.”

“Gotta say I’ve never done it.”

“You seen that video of the dude falling on the gritstone and his rope cuts?”


“Oh dude, he like falls like across this arete and his rope grinds down the arete, and then you see the sheath cut and the core snaps and he falls.”

“And dies.”

“Nah he only fell like 15 feet.” I say. “He only broke an ankle.”

“Oh that’s not bad.”

“Yeah that’s fine.”


We rack up and sort our gear. I carefully organize what I’ll need into the different loops on my harness. Everything seems good and in order. The rest of my gear I’ll need will be in my daypack on my back.

“Ok, so basically I’m just gonna start climbing and kinda communicate with you.” I say. “You’re gonna be on a grigri behind me and managing the rope, but I’ll also make sure I’m not climbing slower or faster than you. And once I start running low on draws I’ll be like, ‘yo I’m getting low on draws,’ and I’ll find an anchor station and put you on belay, right?”


“Is there virtue to running things out while we’re simuling to save gear?” I ask.

Zach laughs. “Yeeeaah. For sure.”

“Cool. I Just wanna be a spicy lad.”

He peers at me. “Just don’t put yourself in a position to take a whipper that’s gonna break your leg and make me have to rescue you.”

“Cool! Yeah I don’t wanna die today. So I’m gonna be very careful.”

“Yeah I am not planning on dying today.”

“I used to be cool with dying rock climbing. But now I only wanna die during the revolution.” I say.

Zach laughs. “Yeah. I’m not real stoked on either to be honest. I don’t really want to die of old age either.”

“Yeah. You kinda wanna die in your 70’s from an accident of some sort. That’s the true way. Like die in an alpine accident when you’re 75.”

“Yeah exactly.”

“Yeah my grandpa is getting pretty old. He’s 78. He’s still going to be president though.”

We laugh.


Views of the other side of the canyon on the way up.

000960820006Ripping off my goddamn harness upon summiting.


Beautiful exposure about half way up.


The final scramble to the summit.

000960820009Zach arriving.


In retrospect maybe climbing past the bevy ledge instead of taking a break was a bad call.


Summit bois.

Around ten hours later we finally reach the summit. My feet hurt so bad I am almost crying with every tiny edge I stand on. Our dreams of cappuccinos dissipated far behind us on the wall. We elect to spend thirty minutes at the summit since we will be rappelling into the night regardless. From where we are we have a panoramic view of the Sierra Madres. It is absolutely mesmerizing.

A few hours into the climb I wanted nothing more than to give up and come down. In retrospect, it was probably one of the best days of my life.

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El Salto


“The sun was getting on me a little bit when I was up there.” says Beau.

I sit with my back to a tree and gaze up at the limestone wall towering above me. Me and Beau are at the base of Animus Wall in El Salto, Nuevo Leon. The sun has finally caught up to the wall, enveloping it in light and heat. No climbing until it’s gone. Friction is nonexistent in the sun. Animus Wall has a very particular sun schedule. The wall is in the shade until around 11am. It’s then enveloped in blistering sun until 2pm and becomes climbable again. This leaves you a pretty good chunk of time to relax, sit around, and ponder why you fell on your last burn.

My last three weeks have been like this. Life in the town, Cienega de Gonzalez, is slow. The days start to blend together eventually. There’s not much else to do in Salto other than rock climb. Reading, skating around, the occasional van movie party. Typically I wake up around nine. Hoark down some breakfast tacos. Pack my gear and then hike into the canyon. Climb a bit, and then lay around the wall and wait for the sun to go away. On especially lazy days it is better to just wait around until the sun is away and then head out.

In the meantime, me and Beau just shoot the shit.

“My last season in the Red was so hot every night, what I would do is roll down the windows all the way so I could sleep at night.” I begin. “But then the mosquitos would just eat me alive. So for the first three nights it was murder, and then after that they kind of accepted me as their own and stopped bothering me. And then I never got eaten again!”

“So they got the fill of your taste.” Beau says.

“Yeah they were like ‘that’s enough Alex buffet.’” I reply. We both laugh.

Beau has just gotten done making another attempt on his project, Lazy Boy Lover. The first few bolts of the route climb directly above a tree, making the fall a little spicy. With a bad belayer, the chances of busting your ass on a tree are fairly high. He’s been falling around the same spot every time. He’s committed fully to it and is going to make another attempt once the sun goes away.


The entrance to the Salto.

I put on my Mexican street market Ray Bans to shield my eyes from the blaze and open the book I’ve been reading, City of Thieves. Beau peers at me as I read. “You kinda look like a CIA spook in those. Like, Saigon, 1965.”

“Oh god, don’t say that.”

“Or some beatnik artist. Have you ever read On the Road?”

“I kind of fucking hated it.” I reply.

“What? Why?”

“I don’t know. I got three-fourths of the way and was just like eh. I don’t know, like I’ve heard it’s a good book I just wasn’t enjoying it. I might reread it.”

“I mean it’s just the flow. I like how jazz was like punk rock back then.” he adds.

I finish my novel and almost cry at the crag because my favorite character died. I toss the novel into the dirt, stand up, and clutch my head in my hands. Fuck man, I need a break. A hike into the canyon sounds nice. I take the brain off of my backpack and pack the essentials. Water, extra layer, and The Essential Writings of Lenin.

The Salto canyon goes for miles. Literally. Hike something like 26 kilometers and you’ll be spit out at La Huasteca. Our friend Emily decided to go for it the day before. She’s somewhere deep down in the canyon at the moment. The walls surround you on all sides as you trudge down the canyon. This far away from the city, the only sound is your footsteps as you disturb the stones of the wash. It’s pretty eerie.

27090013Andrew in the thick of Animus Wall.

27120021The morning coffee spot.


In the depths at Boca Wall.

27120016Ian taking a nap at the pink house.

27120003Views from a beautiful rest day.


Victoria doin’ it at La Palma. Chossy roadside climbing at its best.

27090017Kika’s self portrait.

27090014Andrew making the moves on Camino Del Chino. He sent!


The parking lot at Kika’s during peak season. Living here for a month was an experience.

27090011Common Kika’s scene.

27090010The morning commute through the wash. “The wash giveth and the wash taketh away.”

As I walk down the canyon the prospect of doing the hike to Huasteca crosses my mind. I sit down on top of a boulder in the middle of the wash and ponder my chances. Not good. Farther ahead the wash has begun to devolve into a boulder field. Twenty-six kilometers of that? Not a chance. I open my Nalgene and take a long drink.

The sun is starting to crest a little farther over the canyon. Time to get back to the crag. It’s my turn to climb. I hop off the boulder and begin the hike back.

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