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El Rito Sport Area

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El Rito Sport Area  

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Location: 36.3905, -106.1956 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 201,000
Administrators: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Anthony Stout on Jan 20, 2006
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When it's flowing, the creek at the beginning of t...


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. Fully overhanging routes can be below 5.11, and anything less than vertical will probably clock in at 5.8 or below. All routes are sport bolted, so you can concentrate on the climbing instead of the protection.” (text copied from Gary Clark's online guide: lamountaineers.org/Elrito/spor... )

Getting There 

El Rito is located about 50 miles north of Santa Fe (please see a road map to find El Rito). From the east end of the village, turn north on Forest Road 44 (dirt). Drive 3.75 miles from the pavement, and park to the left just after the sign “Cañada del Potrero.” Camping is available at several locations up this spur road, which ends in about a half-mile. Now walk across the road to a trail paralleling it headed south. The trail crosses a bridge, then turns south up the sidehill to the crags. (~15 min.)

Climbing Season

Weather station 4.0 miles from here

111 Total Routes

['4 Stars',6],['3 Stars',34],['2 Stars',45],['1 Star',13],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for El Rito Sport Area:
Walt's Wall Waltz   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Walt's Wall (aka The Outsid...
Super Arete   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Super Slab
Scurvy Dog   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 60'   Pirate's Wall
Clast Action   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 80'   Super Slab
Boltaneer   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 85'   Super Slab
Balls to the Wall   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Gnar Wall
Blackballed   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Gnar Wall
Cobble Wobble   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 65'   Big Pine Wall
Blackbeard   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 80'   Pirate's Wall
Full Sail   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, 90'   Super Slab
Village Cobbler   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 45'   Beer Block
Booty (aka Long John)   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 88'   Pirate's Wall
Jug-or-Naut   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 40'   The Balcony
Walking the Plank (aka The Buzz)   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 75'   Pirate's Wall
Bolting Barbie   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 50'   Rad Wall
Crack Attack   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 65'   Rad Wall
Stroke Me   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 50'   Rad Wall
Pocket Rocket   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a     Sport, 50'   Big Pine Wall
Stoker   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 65'   Rad Wall
Against All Cobbs   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 50'   Rad Wall
Browse More Classics in El Rito Sport Area

Featured Route For El Rito Sport Area
Eric Whitbeck looking "hooottt" on Again...

Against All Cobbs 5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b  NM : El Rito : ... : Rad Wall
This one climbs a little different than most of the climbs on Rad Wall. Start at the right side of the in ground flake, climb through the first 2 bolts enduring a mini crux passing the second bolt. From here beware those aren't jugs like they look like from the ground. Make a long runout to get established below the third bolt, from here there is a good hold for clipping. It is possible to deck from here before getting established on the good hold.Head up and slightly right passing the crimp...[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

Photos of El Rito Sport Area Slideshow Add Photo
Cobbles that wobbled long ago...
Cobbles that wobbled long ago...
Looking at the sport area from the trad area.
Looking at the sport area from the trad area.
Ryan getting the HIV on everything!
Ryan getting the HIV on everything!

Comments on El Rito Sport Area Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 30, 2014
By Jerry Cagle
From: Tucson, AZ
Jul 4, 2006
Unless you have titanium testicles bring a stick clip. B1 is consistently well off the deck. This is an odd concept for my feeble mind to grasp. Why create a route with a serious groundfall risk on the start, then bolt the remainder into submission?

For purposes of comparison: If these routes were in AZ or CO they would usually get a full number grade less than the online guide gives for the difficulty.

Kudos to the developer(s) for the excellent lower out anchors. All sport routes would benefit from a similar setup. I'm sure the cost was not minimal.

Overall this is one of the best sport areas I've seen for both the average as well as the elite climber: Beautiful surroundings, nice approach trail, unique rock with interesting features. Clark's online guide is a gem. Well done Gary...!
By Monomaniac
From: Morrison, CO
Nov 27, 2006
"If these routes were in AZ or CO they would usually get a full number grade less"

Apparently you've never been to Shelf Road (CO) or Jacks Canyon (AZ) :)
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jun 25, 2007
Gary Clark's naclassics.com website is no more but never fear! The online content from his site moved to the LA Mountaineers website including the excellent El Rito Sport guide.
By tim naylor
Sep 2, 2007
a full number grade, come on now. I think these routes are graded pretty similar to rifle, Where in Az has steep climbing like this besides "Dry Creek"?
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jul 18, 2008
FYI, Gary Clark's PDF guide to the El Rito Sport Crags has been fully updated to include the 12 new routes that have been established since the PDF was last updated in 2006. Get it at El Rito Sport guide.
By ZachS00
From: Denver, CO
Feb 18, 2009
How will the temps be in mid-March?
By LeeAB
From: ABQ, NM
Feb 18, 2009
It should be OK in March. The cliffs mostly face west so if it is cool you can just get a lazy start and climb in the afternoon. I doubt it will be too warm to climb in the sun but it can be hot in the summers forcing you to find shade after the sun comes around. I would guess 60-70 for day time highs but pretty cold in the mornings.

A word of caution, try to avoid driving in after dark on a Friday or Saturday night as the turn off onto the dirt road is a local drinking hang at these times and bad things have been know to happen.
By ZachS00
From: Denver, CO
Feb 23, 2009
Lee -

Seriously? That's somewhat unnerving. Thanks for the weather beta though.
By LeeAB
From: ABQ, NM
Feb 23, 2009
Yeah several years ago some friends driving in after dark on a Friday night lost every window in their Tundra to a barage of rocks. I think if you are camping it's fine though as you are several miles in and the locals seem to just hang at the turn off.
By ZachS00
From: Denver, CO
Feb 24, 2009
Right on, we'll take notice, thanks.
By Scott Price
Mar 4, 2009
While I don't doubt the rock throwing incident, that is by no means the norm as I've driven in many a late Friday night and have never even seen a party.

A full number grade? Seriously. Often, the ratings seem off by a letter, but never more.

If the ratings are so soft, why the stick clip? In all seriousness though, it is certainly not necessary to have a stick clip for an enjoyable visit.
By manuel rangel
From: Tempe, Arizona
Nov 11, 2009
Nice area and well worth a visit. The routes were fun and graded close enough to true for me. Very user friendly. The rock reminded me of a couple cobblestone areas in Spain.
By jauernigg
From: edwards, co
Jun 18, 2010
had a fun trip there, felt the ratings were soft, and never felt the need for a stick clip
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
May 19, 2011
As of two weekends ago the road was in very good shape and passable with a standard passenger vehicle. It did snow here in northern NM last night and today so it might be a little sloppy tomorrow but should dry up well by Saturday morning.
By Realseth
Feb 1, 2012
first of all, the routes here are no more soft or hard than anywhere else in the states. Ive climbed at shelf, the red, ten sleep, eldo, rifle, and many other places. every area has its hard routes and its sandbags..cant we stop arguing about the grade and just have some fun?
By Natalie Rose
Apr 23, 2012
Spent last week here! First time! Really fun! Tons of great moderates! Recommend the Rad Wall! And Ojo Caliente hot springs rest day! (though try to go mon-thur, it's more expensive on weekends)
Great online guide! Would love more information on any further sport developments in the area.
By David Kozak
Sep 18, 2013
Just uploaded 12 new sport routes to the El Rito Sport Area. Look under El Norte for location and descriptions. Some of the routes still need more cleaning, and we will hopefully be able to get back this fall to work on the trial. Enjoy.
By zacharygraham
From: Manhattan,NY
Oct 8, 2013
Came out here last weekend. It seems that the "Cañada del Potrero" sign was gone but it's pretty obvious where you should park. The grades seemed right on and overall the rock was solid. The only issue was a few loose hangers on the anchors on the Schoolhouse Slab but we tightened them up with a Leatherman. Overall, it was nice and a relatively easy hike to get there.
By munge
Dec 25, 2013
Yeah, I did not see a sign yesterday, so didn't know how to orient myself to the crags. Found bolts down by creek at south end.
By DGraham
Mar 30, 2014
I was not a fan of the rock quality or how every bolt was loose. This kind of conglomerate is week stuff man, if the bolt was in a large crystal face I wasn't worried but that wasn't the case for all of them. Overall I don't plan on revisiting, But I never got to try out rad wall, which looked totally rad.
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