Rancho Pint - The Mexico Page

Text and Photos ©2012 by J. Pint

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Oscar Gonzalez

Oscar González, one of the founders of Salva El Diente, announces an upcoming Festival (Sept. 14-16, 2012) which will raise money to “save The Tooth.”

 Rappel Practice at El Diente, Jalisco, Mexico

Members of the climbing group Jalisco Vertical practice rappelling on El Dinosaurio.


Graffiti now covers the base of many a rock at El Diente.

Free shirts at Vertimania

Free "Salva El Diente" shirts flew through the air recently at Vertimania climbing supply store  in Guadalajara.

The Turtle at Cerro El Diente, Guadalajara Mexico

Giant rock resembling a turtle at Cerro El Diente.

Memo Quiroz

Guadalajara businessman Guillermo "Memo" Quiroz takes a break in a shady shelter.


No, it's not encrypted, but you might have a hard time figuring out that this sign tells climbers they can buy magnesium while paying the toll to drive to the rocks.

Big Butt

The Big Butt.


Caves beneath the dunes? Check out our Saudicaves page:







Guadalajara's Mammoth Monoliths are under attack

By John Pint

El Diente is under attack.A seventeen-minute drive north of Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city, brings you to a veritable Forest of Giants: monster rocks covering a steep hillside which rises high above the placid village of Río Blanco. The place was long ago given the name El Diente in honor of one particular tooth-shaped rock especially beloved by the boulder and mountain climbers who have been coming to Cerro El Diente for decades to hone their skills.

For many years, the only way to reach El Diente was to park at the edge of Río Blanco and hike 800 meters to the monoliths. Then local entrepreneurs decided to build a road right up to the foot of the rocks and to charge a toll for access to their bumpy, dusty, rut-ridden camino. As a result of this one act, hordes of “domingueros” (Sunday Picnickers) descended upon El Diente once a week, strewing garbage everywhere and shattering the former stillness of this magical place with ear-splitting noise from stereos jacked up to full volume. Some of them even wandered away from their cars to scrawl graffiti all over the rocks, up to as high as they could reach on tiptoe.

The bad news doesn’t end here. Recently it was discovered that developers have bought up all the land around the monoliths and plan to carpet the area with 26,000 houses, cutting off all access to what could be a wonderful park. Local climbers decided it was time to take action. A movement called “Salva El Diente” was born...

“I have been climbing El Diente for twenty years, and I saw the drastic change,” says one of the founders of Salva El Diente, Oscar González. “You see, I have two kids and one day I asked myself, ‘What am I going to leave them?’ My friends Ricardo Ramos and Gerardo "The Fish" Rizo felt the same way, so the first thing we did was to start a legal association because we discovered that El Diente—which covers 1591hectares—is a so-called Protected Area at the municipal level, but the money allocated for maintaining it had never been spent because no organization had ever asked for it.”

“In the world of climbers,” reminisces González, “El Diente holds a special place. It was here where the First International Bouldering Championships were held in 1985. Participants from Japan, England, Peru, Venezuela, the USA and Mexico were amazed at the endless variety of climbing situations they could try out on these strangely shaped monoliths and ever since it has been the favorite place for local climbers to practice. However, the aim of our organization goes beyond this. We think El Diente should be a park which everyone can enjoy, a place where families can have fun, a place for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. And, of course, we shouldn’t forget that this forested area is another of the ‘lungs’ of Guadalajara along with La Primavera and Colomos.”

To get a feeling for the rock climbers’ concerns, I went to El Diente on a weekday to have a good look around. Even though it’s only an eight-kilometer drive from the Periférico (Ring Road), in bygone times you needed a high-clearance vehicle to reach the place. No More. Now it’s paved road all the way to Río Blanco. From here you can walk to the rocks without charge or pay 30 pesos for the privilege of driving 800 meters more on the ill-maintained dirt road.

While in the past I’ve always gone to El Diente to watch climbers scale the rocks, this time my friends and I decided simply to wander around. This turned into a real eye-opener. With every step one of us would cry out: “This place is incredible; it’s astounding!” And over and over we would point: “Look at those rocks: two giant turtles; over there, you can see a brontosaurus and here’s a giant finger pointing at the sky.”

Luis Rojas hiking at Cerro El Diente

Engineer Luis Rojas of Guadalajara, looking for a route to the top of Cerro El Diente

There are a number of trails winding through this Rock City and we decided to follow those heading upwards, in hope of reaching the top of the hill to check out the view. Well, every path eventually petered out because, after all, they were all made by climbers heading for some specific rock (This, says Oscar González will soon change as work begins this week on an easy-to-follow interpretative trail).

For my hiker friends and me, reaching the top was no problem, as the hillside is not too steep and there’s very little underbrush. Along the way we never stopped discovering new, weirdly shaped rocks until soon we were approaching the peak, where two big buzzards observed our progress with great interest. From the top we had a great vulture’s-eye view of the giant rocks themselves and the usual rather disappointing view of Guadalajara in the distance, shrouded in ugly brown smog.

Salva El Diente is interested in bettering every aspect of this Protected Area and one of the experts they have called upon for advice is Canadian geologist and canyoneer Chris Lloyd, who says he was quite surprised to discover that the geology maps have misidentified these rocks. “These monoliths are composed of a rather pure feldspar porphyry which formed deep under the earth perhaps up to 30 million years ago. That’s how long it’s taken the surrounding rock to erode away, leaving these extremely old monoliths standing tall. Geologically speaking, this is a very special place.”

El Diente, Guadalajara, Mexico - Photo: J. PintSalva El Diente plans to bring this “very special place” to the attention of Mexico and the world on September 14-16, 2012 when the first Festival El Diente will take place. The Festival is expected to lure at least 2500 people to the giant monoliths where there will be competitions—with prizes of up to $1400 US—in boulder climbing, trail running and slacklining, The latter is something like tight-rope walking, but instead of rope, uses flat, one-inch nylon webbing, which is much easier to walk on than rope and does not need to be pulled tight. The stretchy nature of the webbing allows for a great variety of tricks and stunts and there’s even a kind of yoga which is practiced while balancing on a slackline. According to Oscar González, the Festival’s slackline will be 80 meters long, running from El Diente to another spire called El Colmillo (The Fang), “and the activities will take place up in the air, 40 meters above the ground.”

How to get there

Go west on Guadalajara's northern Periférico until you come to Plaza San Isidro. Alongside this large shopping center there’s a highway going north. Drive on this road for 1.2 kilometers. Here, at a stoplight, under a set of high tension wires, turn left onto a wide boulevard called Avenida Río Blanco. Set your odometer and drive four kilometers, following the paved road northwest until you are just about to exit the town of Río Blanco. Here (just after the primary school) you’ll come to a fork. Take the right side onto a dirt road. Go north 380 meters for about two minutes and you’ll come to an iron gate on your right (at N20 47.092 W103 23.943). Pay the fee, go through the gate and drive about 800 meters northeast to the parking area. Driving time from the Periférico to the foot of the monoliths: about 16 minutes.

View of Guadalajara

Another strange rock formation (you name it!) with Guadalajara in the far background.


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