With the amount of climbing right around Los Alamos and White Rock, one would wonder why the locals would ever have to leave! From traditional basalt crags to steep or technical sport climbing, a nice diversity exists around these two towns. The various crags at White Rock have been popular for local and out of town climbers for years, with short approaches and quality basalt, with many of the cliffs being accessible for toproping (as well as leading) on bolted climbs as well as cracks. Now, The Dungeon area near Los Alamos has become the most popular area nearby, with steep overhanging climbs that appeal to the modern-day sport climber.
There are two different ways to get to the Los Alamos and White rock areas, one through the Jemez mountains (Highway 4) and the other by taking I-25 toward Santa Fe. The second is the most common and the quickest from either Albuquerque or Santa Fe.
From I-25, head either north or south toward Santa Fe (depending on where you are coming from), and get onto highway 285/84 toward Pojoaque. From Pojoaque head west on highway 502. Highway 502 will take you to Los Alamos or White Rock. Follow directions to specific areas from here.
Another option nearby is Camp May by the Pajarito Mtn. Ski Area.
Free undeveloped camping can be found west of Los Alamos and Bandelier in the Jemez. Good places to look are on the dirt roads that head north from NM-4 as you're going west from Los Alamos before you get to the Valles Caldera; and off the road to the Pajarito Ski Hill. Don't camp on National Lab or in Bandelier Monument (except at the campground).
Supplies Good grocery stores are Smiths in Los Alamos and White Rock. The nearest camping/climbing gear shop is in Santa Fe: Sangre de Cristo Mtn Works and REI.
Other attractions -Bandelier National Monument hosts must-see archaelogy and a short loop hike can be completed in a couple of hours. -The town of Los Alamos doesn't offer much of interest, although the museum documenting the history of this unique town built during WWII may intrigue those interested in history and science. -The Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mtns offers recreational opportunities for cross-country skiing and mountain biking, as well as the largest elk herd in the Jemez; however, access is not always simple. -Pajarito Ski Area west of Los Alamos offers uncrowded skiing Fri-Sun, or skin up on the days it's closed. -Mtn biking: various excellent mtn. biking trails are found near Los Alamos.
Looking for a Partner?
If you're in the area for a short time, and don't know anyone.. there are a couple options if you want to do some climbing but don't want to commit to a plan.
An informal toproping group loosely affiliated with the Los Alamos Mountaineers heads to a different White Rock crag and shares anchors and ropes- every Tuesday and Thursday around 5 pm from March to October. Visiting climbers and non-Mountaineering-club-members are welcome to join in. By sharing toprope anchors and ropes, you can get a lot of climbs in before dark. Just show up, bring gear if you have it, but just a harness and shoes is enough if you don't. The schedule (and directions to the crags) is posted online here: www.lamountaineers.org/index.html
The Dungeon: there are almost always people climbing here on workday evenings, getting a workout on the 5.12s on the Main Wall. The climbing community here is friendly and the climbs are pumpy enough that offering a belay to an out-of-towner is a great way for the locals to have an excuse to rest. If you're a visiting sport climber who can get up 5.12s, this is probably your best option.
Call for Volunteers to Review the "Bolting Agreement for Los Alamos Climbing Areas"
The Board of Directors of the Los Alamos Mountaineers is seeking one or preferably two Los Alamos area climbers who are willing to lead a team of climbers at-large in a review of the Bolting Agreement for Los Alamos Climbing Areas that was originally written in 1989 and amended in 2004. The goal is to achieve a bolting agreement that represents a consensus among the entire Los Alamos area climbing community, whether or not they live in Los Alamos County. Preferably the team leaders will include one LAM and one non-LAM climber. The leaders of this team should be active climbers who are in contact with the wider climbing community. Of course the leaders are likely to have their own opinions on bolting but must be willing to impartially facilitate an agreement on potentially contentious issues such as top-rope anchors and the list of bolted vs. non-bolted routes. At the completion of the review the team leaders are to prepare a re-validated or revised bolting agreement. Full information is here.
Whether or not you are a LAM member, please contact Rick Light (RickLight.firstname.lastname@example.org), the programs officer of the Los Alamos Mountaineers, to express your interest in leading this effort.
LAM Bolting Reimbursement Policy Rescinded
The "LAM Bolting Reimbursement Policy" was rescinded by the LAM Board at their August 12th Board meeting.
A couple of us (including both bolting and anti-bolting advocates) have begun informal discussions on if/how the Los Alamos & White Rock bolting agreement might be re-written. I am trying to act as a neutral moderator during this process.
I ask everyone who cares about this issue to please post at this new forum thread and express your opinions. Please pass this along to people who might not frequent MP.