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El Malpais

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1096 T 
A Moment's Respite T 
Breech Baby T 
Checking to see if this is an FA 
Checking to see if this is an FA again 
Checking to see if this is an FA on a different route 
Crack of Heraclitus T 
Easy Come, Easy Go T 
Icebreaker T 
Mt. Cosmic Debris T 
Mushroom, The T 
New Frontier T 
Overdrive T 
Rotten Peach T 
Screaming Yellow Yum-Yums T 
Strensuous Curve T 
Surfin' the Turf T 
Sword of Cimmeria T 
Trudy Buns T,S 
Unsorted Routes:

El Malpais 


Photos: Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 7,200'
Location: 34.8721, -107.8868 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 8,264
Administrators: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: David Baltz on Nov 9, 2009
Forecast:
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BETA PHOTO: page one of Malpais feature from December 1976 - D...

Description 

The El Malpais climbing area extends for twelve miles along Hwy 117 on the easern edge of the lower Grants lava flow from which the name was taken. The climbing is on soft sandstone and is comparable in quality to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. The area was first explored, starting in the Fall of 1975, by David Dahrling and David Baltz who had established thirteen moderate trad routes by December of 1976. Further action in the late '70s by Paul Horak, Mark Dalen, Charlie Ware led to additional routes, as well as visits by such out-of-state luminaries as Andrew Embick, and Earl Wiggins. Because of the intimidating nature of many of the lines, the area has seen very limited development since, in spite of the enormous potential. The vast majority of the established routes are crack climbs, entirely unlike the uniform cracks of the Indian Creek variety, but of a more varied and technical nature. Due to the soft rock, bolts and other fixed protection are rarely encountered, but nuts and cams work well. There is also excellent bouldering, the approaches are short--at most fifteen minutes from the car--and the climbing season runs from February through November.

One note about local ethics:
The Malpais has traditionally been a 'ground up' area. What few bolts and fixed pins that exist were placed on the lead. Due to the soft nature of the rock, the wilderness area partially covering the major walls, and Acoma reservation, sport routes are strongly discouraged.


Getting There 

Drive west on Interstate-40 from Albuquerque to the Hwy 117 exit four miles short of Grants. Drive south on Hwy 117 for 4 miles until past the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook turnoff. The first few miles are part of the Acoma Reservation and marked 'No Trespassing' even though much of the area is public land (National Monument and designated wilderness). As one approached the largest natural arch in the state, a sign will mark the beginning of unrestricted climbing.


19 Total Routes


['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',5],['2 Stars',11],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',2],['5.8',1],['5.9',4],['5.10',5],['5.11',3],['5.12',1],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',2],['V4-5',1],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]


Featured Route For El Malpais
A Malpais mega-classic.

Screaming Yellow Yum-Yums 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a  NM : New Mexico, I-40 Corridor : El Malpais
Climb the finger/hand crack for 45 feet to a ledge (5.9+). Traverse right on the ledge and thrash up a wide crack (5.9) and around the corner.Descend by tunneling down the back side of the spire....[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

Photos of El Malpais Slideshow Add Photo
Major climbs and areas
Major climbs and areas
Easy approaches are the norm.
Easy approaches are the norm.
"1096" -one of the areas 5.11s follows the obvious flared chimney.
"1096" -one of the areas 5.11s follows the obvious...
Surfin' the Turf area
Surfin' the Turf area
Strensuous Curve
Strensuous Curve
La Vieja (aka Mt Cosmic Debris)
La Vieja (aka Mt Cosmic Debris)
page two of Malpais feature from December 1976 - Dave Baltz contributor
BETA PHOTO: page two of Malpais feature from December 1976 - D...
Malpais basalt between La Vieja & the hiway - 15 foot deep 'mini' gorge for fans of underground bouldering.  Very little developed if at all ...
BETA PHOTO: Malpais basalt between La Vieja & the hiway - 15 f...
Overdrive, 1st pitch
Overdrive, 1st pitch
Epitaph Corner
Epitaph Corner
page three of Malpais feature from December 1976 - Dave Baltz contributor
BETA PHOTO: page three of Malpais feature from December 1976 -...
Comments on El Malpais Add Comment
Show which comments
By Karl Kiser
Apr 3, 2008

The New Mexico Climber, a newsletter produced by Mark Dalen between at least 1976-79, shows many routes in the Malpais (at least 20). The climbs are on the cliffs 12 miles south of I-40 for several miles.

Early FAs were by Dave Baltz, Dave Dahrling, Paul Horak, Mark Dalen, Charles Ware, Steven Cheney, Davey Hammack, Rick Maleski and Merle Wheeler.

By Jeremy Aslaksen
From: Albuquerque, NM
Nov 11, 2009

Thanks for all the info Dave.

Super cool stuff.

Take care,

Jeremy Aslaksen

By Will G
From: Branford, Ct
Mar 1, 2010

Is there any good info on bouldeing in the area? Thanks.

Will

By Williampenner
From: The 505
Mar 1, 2010

Lots of very soft sandstone all around, but the best stuff we ever found was at the picnic area on the south end of the Narrows and just opposite that on the other side of the highway. The Dakota caprock comes close to the ground here and provides some fairly enjoyable climbing. This would never be a destination area though, even for those who enjoy obscurity.

There are tons of canyons to the south and east that might be worth checking out for more Dakota.

Good luck,

W

By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Jul 1, 2010

Hi, do any of you New Mexicans know anything about camping possibilities on the national forest land west of El Malpais N.M.? I.e., how's the accessibility (we'd be arriving pretty late), is it sketchy, etc? We're just looking for a place to crash quickly on the way to Albuquerque.

By Roberto
From: La Jolla, CA
Aug 3, 2010

My wife and i found a few boulder problems that might have been FAs, but we are not sure. Can someone let us know if these have been climbed before of not. i will update the routes.

Thank you,
roberto

mountainproject.com/v/new_mexico/gallupgrants_areas/el_malpa>>>

mountainproject.com/v/new_mexico/gallupgrants_areas/el_malpa>>>

mountainproject.com/v/new_mexico/gallupgrants_areas/el_malpa>>>