New Mexico Trip November 2016

Cryptozoa
Cryptozoa
Nov 22, 2016 · 8 min read
Image for post
Image for post

New Mexico Trip November 2016

2 Replies

Last Friday to Sunday, I was leading sport climbs at the 3rd Annual Shelf Road Gathering in Colorado. Tuesday through Thursday I was in Vegas being guided up trad multipitch on the multi-colored sandstone at Red Rock. The day after returning from Vegas I packed the car that morning and headed with my friend Katie Grimes and headed for Las Alamos, New Mexico.

  • 3 states in 10 days.
  • 2 rest days.
  • 8 days of climbing in 10 days.

Heaven.

Image for post
Image for post

At the Overlook

I’ve heard rock climbing compared to an obsession, to an addiction, and I think there’s some truth in that, but I prefer to refer to rock climbing in more positive terms.

I compare it to a love affair.

Love affairs have the same sort of qualities of obsession, even addiction, but at the end of the day I do it because I love it. I love it so much that if I didn’t have to think about recovery and rest I would climb every day.

Image for post
Image for post

But I love to climb so much I will take care of myself so that I can climb as well as I can for as long as I can.

It’s about longevity.

I was talking to Katie at fireside after the sun went down, saying, “I just want to have fun — ALL the time.” And by “fun” I meant going to cool climbing places like Red Rock Canyon, Shelf Road, and now Los Alamos, NM — and climb my brains out!

So, I arrived back home from Vegas on a Thursday evening, contemplating what I would need for a 3 night camping trip, and how to fit both myself and all my gear in my 2002 Suburu WRX — along with Katie, her 11 year old son Sawyer, and terrier Charley.

Image for post
Image for post

Charley at the Overlook

And their gear. I was about to cancel, but Katie said, “All we need is the space in the backseat next to Sawyer.”

Okay, then.

I took her at her word, reduced my things to what would fit in the cargo area, leaving the space in the half of the backseat that Sawyer would not be using.

When they came down with only 2 backpacks I knew we’d be fine.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

Some things I look for in a partner: say what you are going to do. Be on time. Be ready. Stay positive. Don’t be a grump.

She had her game on, which was great.

And off we went!

Our first stop after driving 6 hours was camping at the Juniper campground, a campground just outside the Bandelier National Monument. I think it’s funny that I’ve never visited the park, as I’ve always been so one-minded about climbing that I never thought to visit there. I recommend this campground for visiting the area as it’s equidistant between the Overlook and Los Conchas, and only an hour away from El Rito.

The next day we made our first stop at The Overlook, a place I’ve climbed at before.

Image for post
Image for post

The Overlook, overlooking the Rio Grande

The Overlook is in a sort of smallish town in Los Alamos called White Rock. You drive through a suburb, past a school with a jungle gym, past tidy 3 bedroom/2 bath houses, to a viewing area with a guard rail that overlooks the cliffside of the Overlook to the winding Rio Grande river below.

Image for post
Image for post

Box overhang right, 5.8

I threw the rope onto Box Overhang Right, a 5.8 warmup that escapes the overhanging roof via a crack running on the right side.

After that one I hung the rope on Box Overhang Left, but it was a little wet, and I read on Mountain Project that the “…presence of feces makes this crack hard and disgusting. What might have once been a great line if now offensive.”

Well, alright.

We decided to do a combination of Box Left and Len’s Roof.

Image for post
Image for post

Katie gettin’ it!

Image for post
Image for post

Sawyer on Box Right

Image for post
Image for post

Sawyer taking a swing off Box Left

The test piece for me, though, was the 3 star 5.11b Way Beyond Zebrathat Scott Hunt lead when we were here back in 2014.

Image for post
Image for post

Way Beyond Zebra

Way Beyond Zebra is vertical crimp climbing at it’s finest. I didn’t feel up to leading it, but I did feel stronger this time than last time, which speaks to my improvement as a climber. I’ll lead it next time.

Image for post
Image for post

Charley keeping watch

Image for post
Image for post

A friendly climber next to us

Because we only had 2 climbing days, I thought we’d take a break after 3 climbs at the Overlook, and then go and visit Las Conchas, in the Jemez Valley area.

Las Conchas

Image for post
Image for post

Dog Party at Las Conchas

The Cattle Call Wall area of Las Conchas is more of a group climbing area, full of moderate climbs, sunny and sportish, if you know what I mean. The group next to us kindly asked if we minded if they played music.

“Well, is it good music?” I joked. They said something about death metal, and I agreed. Some Dave Matthews song came on, and I knew we’d be fine.

I’ve since relaxed my stance on no music playing while rock climbing outdoors. Unlike the interior area of Las Conchas, within the confines of the canyon with the bucolic river winding through it, this area seemed more suited for a little pop music, sunlit meadow and all. Most places I still disagree with playing music while climbing, but that day, in the warming sun, I was more than fine with it, digging the sport climbing with friendly neighbors.

Image for post
Image for post

Sawyer on Pie in your Eye

We started on Pie in your Eye, which Katie led, brushing off her lead rust. We then moved on to Cud for Lulu.

Image for post
Image for post

Katie and Sawyer

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

I ended with the 2.5 star 5.10b route, Eat Mor Chikin. I thought it was excellent, pumpy, vertical, slightly overhung at spots — played to my strengths. Halfway up I exclaimed, “This is soooo good!”

Image for post
Image for post

Dog party

Juniper Campground

6 climbs, 2 New Mexico climbing areas.

Image for post
Image for post

After cold 29 degree Fahrenheit night that had me wearing my winter puffy and down ski pants with my 20 degree bag we went on to El Rito, one of my favorite places to climb.

El Rito

Image for post
Image for post

Sawyer on Herbie Goes Bananas

Image for post
Image for post

I love El Rito

El Rito is cobblestone climbing, with the stones embedded in a matrix, or as the Proj describes it:

Fun, vertical to overhanging “conglomerate matrix of metamorphosed sand and mud with inclusions of smooth, rounded cobbles of all sizes. The cobbles, and the holes they leave when they fall out of the matrix, form excellent holds that allow relatively moderate climbing for such steep rock

Image for post
Image for post

Sawyer climbs the tree

Image for post
Image for post

After our warmup, we moved to the Balcony, which was around the corner and up a short slope. All the names of the routes had an Austin Powers connection.

We started on Mini Me, a 5.9- warmup, then I led Chupacobbler, a 5.10a which I thought was fantastic, and then led Sharks with Friggin Laser Beams, a 5.9 I thought was harder than the Chupacobbler, but maybe I was just tired after this sixth route of the day.

Image for post
Image for post

Katie taking it sideways on Chupacobbler

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

As we left El Rito, I thought that next time I should give the primitive camping at the campsite at the foot of El Rito a go. Next time — in January 2017!

Whoo hoo!

Image for post
Image for post

********

Join me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gripandclip
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel: http://youtube.com/c/GripandClip

Enjoyed this post? Support this site using my Amazon link to shop. It does not cost you any extra to use my affiliate link, and by it’s use you can help support my blog.

GripandClip

Rock Climb the World!

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store