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By drmartindell
From Homer, Ak
Nov 26, 2013
My girlfriend and I are considering moving to Santa Fe from Alaska. The town I live in has one measly crag (3 routes), a super hard boulder (5ish problems) and a 8 rope rock wall in a gym. The closest climbing besides these places is 4 hours away. Naturally I'm mostly dissatisfied throughout the year. I usually do one or two trips to Red Rock/Joshua Tree either in the fall or spring which manages to quell the urge to kill myself. I joke, I joke.

My question is, what is it like to be a climber in Santa Fe? Are you satisfied with the amount and variety of climbs within a 2 hour radius from you? Is the climbing community an overall positive one? Do you feel like you look forward all year to trips further away to bigger spots, or are you mostly happy with what you have nearby? How easy is it to travel to other place, such as, Indian Creek, Zion, Joshua Tree, Red Rock, etc.

I would really just like to get a feel for what it's like for you as a climber living in Santa Fe. Any other input regarding the town itself or life there would be great too.
Thanks!

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By Alex Washburne
Nov 26, 2013
I eat crack for breakfast.
I'm from Albuquerque originally, and can't stomache advertising New Mexico to other people - ABQ has already doubled in size since I was born there and the addition of a train connecting Albuquerque and Santa Fe, coupled with the rat-race commute makes it feel like one massive, sprawling city. Kinda sad, actually, the feeling of being crowded out of the place you call home... It might help quell your sarcastic urge to kill yourself, but it'll amplify your sarcastic urge to kill other people.

I hear SLC is a pretty good place - centrally located with better access to more high-quality climbing, plus much better skiing in the winter. And, from what little I know (which is very little), they have the water issue figured out. Boulder's pretty good, too, if you can stand the snobbery and competition (I can't). Personally, though, I've always thought Homer, Alaska would be a dream destination due to the abundance of raw, untrammeled outdoors and a low abundance but locally high concentration of good, well-educated people.

That's just my opinion, so don't take it to heart if it doesn't resonate. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, I guess (though the grass is particularly shitty in New Mexico due to a prolonged drought and no major rivers left to divert to boost the desert to unnaturally high population sizes without depleting the aquifer).

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By Ken Jones
From Grants, NM
Nov 26, 2013
hanging between climbs
There is a good amount of climbing adjacent to and within a two hour drive of Santa Fe. A nice variety of rock and climbing areas, from short sport to multi-pitch trad, are a short drive from Santa Fe.

I'm not a Santa Fe local so I can't comment on what it is like to live there. I wouldn't live there but my friends that do seem to like it.

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By Kyle O
From Tucson, AZ
Nov 26, 2013
Sunset on top of the Goose Head via Golden Egg  <br /> <br />Photo by Nate
Alex Washburne wrote:
I hear SLC is a pretty good place... And, from what little I know (which is very little), they have the water issue figured out.


They're way behind on the booze though!

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By Rstrang
From Santa Fe, NM
Nov 26, 2013
Great jug hauling at the start <br />Wake and Bake (5.11+)
Santa Fe is awesome!!
It's a small town but still plenty of amenities. Sometimes the people are strange but if you just hang out with climbers you'll never notice. The weather is ALWAYS perfect. I can ski, mt. bike, hike, etc close to home but I choose to climb almost everyday of the year. Good ice climbing in colo. is close. I can get to Indian Creek in a little over 5 hours and Black Canyon or Rifle are only about 6 hours. That's the travel crags - the day crags are 30 minutes to 1 hour away (diablo, el Rito, Capulin, etc) and are quite varied and never crowded. The gym though small is a great scene and it should expand significantly within a year.
The one negative seems to be that the pay scale is a bit low compared to real estate/rental prices - oh well not everything is perfect. I always thought that I would move away but for the past 20 years I've never found anyplace nicer (for me ). That's often what happens to a lot of people that move here

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By Brettro
From Albuquerque, NM
Nov 26, 2013
Having moved to Albuquerque from an area with no climbing (Indiana), my opinion is that it is amazing to live and climb out here.

There is a wide variety of boulders and crags and alpine, along with a good gym to train at (Stone Age in ABQ, not familiar with the Santa Fe gym). While the overall quantity is significantly less than Colorado, it is exponentially bigger than your current selection and personally I have so many projects and favorite routes all over the state. I'm not a winter sports fan, so New Mexico is actually better for me than Colorado since the weather here is climbable year-round and the cost of living is much less than Colorado, SLC or California.

If I were you, I'd strongly consider Albuquerque instead of Santa Fe, unless you specifically have a reason. Santa Fe is a great town, but the cost of living is a bit more than Albuquerque, and you may have to end up commuting for your job anyway. That being said, Santa Fe is a fun town with lots of beautiful trails, mountains and boulders surrounding it and is close to Taos, Durango, Pagosa Springs, etc too.

Non-climbing related, but if you are a beer fan, the breweries throughout ABQ and SF are hard to beat.

The opinion on New Mexico seems to be divided between people that love it and will never leave and people who bitch about how it isn't Colorado or California. I'm definitely in the first group and would happily answer any other questions you might have.

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By drmartindell
From Homer, Ak
Nov 26, 2013
Alex Washburne wrote:
I've always thought Homer, Alaska would be a dream destination due to the abundance of raw, untrammeled outdoors and a low abundance but locally high concentration of good, well-educated people.


Yeah, don't get me wrong, Homer is a good spot. The people are mostly great and the landscape is quite amazing. It's just the lack of climbing....
There are some great glaciated peaks across the bay and the ice climbing is semi-decent from about mid-Nov through mid-April. But, the lack of rock can begin to grate on you after awhile. Oh, and then there are instances like last week when it was 15 degrees for a high for six days and right as the ice climbs were fully formed up and ready to go....it begins raining. That sort of thing can make you crazy.

It's funny but I received some contradictions in some of the responses. Some people say they can't live in the big town of Santa Fe and others say it's too small. I guess that's a perception thing. ABQ sounds way too big for me though.

Overall the responses have strengthened my desire to check out Santa Fe and I'm excited to see what it could be like.

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By Alex Washburne
Nov 26, 2013
I eat crack for breakfast.
Brett Oblack wrote:
The opinion on New Mexico seems to be divided between people that love it and will never leave and people who bitch about how it isn't Colorado or California. I'm definitely in the first group and would happily answer any other questions you might have.



A bit of a false dichotomy, but not a biggie - there are also people who love New Mexico because of the low population densities (notice the frequent mention of "no crowds at crags") but are conflicted because the prime virtue of New Mexico - the low densities - is lost when we profess our love of the state and invite one and all to migrate in without reservation. I fall in this category. I love my home land deeply, but it pains me to see the urban sprawl of both ABQ and Santa Fe, especially in light of the sensitive water issues. The problem of water usage by someone who cares about their environmental footprint should be considered when thinking about moving into the desert. New Mexico's water supply is always a topic of intense debate, and adding more cups under the faucet doesn't help.

New Mexico is a wonderful place, but can it sustain more people and still retain its charm, let alone provide water for those people? This probably won't factor into drmartin's decision (it probably didn't factor into the decisions of the people who moved here from Indiana, etc.), because what's one more person in a state of 2 million? So goes the tragedy of the commons... It's not a problem if "I" do it, but only a problem if "everybody" does it.

Again, this is just my (heartfelt) opinion and shouldn't be read as an attack on anyone. I just hope to make real the tragedy of feeling crowded out of your home after years of advocating for more sustainable development.

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By Alex Washburne
Nov 26, 2013
I eat crack for breakfast.
Currently I'm doing time as a grad student in New Jersey, which is definitely the worst state in the nation for someone who cherishes open space. After grad school, I'm not sure where I'll go. On one hand, returning to New Mexico will ensure my parents "internalize" the effects of their actions (effects = kids) within the local ecosystem, which is a good strategy to ensure sustainability. On the other hand, staying away from New Mexico will have the benefits of reducing its population density and saving me the heartbreak of watching it grow more, but the cost of putting one more migrant into some other town causing someone else the heartbreak of seeing their hometown get crowded out by an obnoxious New Mexican. I would say "Montana", but out of respect for people in Montana who like it for the same reasons I like New Mexico, I can't morally justify moving there unless I arranged a "trade" with someone who lives there and more closely researched the sustainability issues facing cities there.

As you can tell, this perspective of mine does not lead immediately to an easy path to happiness, but nonetheless I'd like to see it more deeply considered when people consider migration. Often we only think about improvement of our own lives, which is the appropriately human thing to do, but I believe consideration of the lives of the people we'll be living after migration is an important psychological and cultural milestone that would make the world a better place (provided people are moving out of preference, and not out of necessity).

I might go to Scandanavia where the population is declining, but I'm not sure if they like obnoxious Americans in Norway...

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By Brettro
From Albuquerque, NM
Nov 26, 2013
Having grown up in Las Vegas, NM then moving to actual cities like Chicago and Indianapolis, it is really hard for me to picture ABQ/SF as "urban sprawls." So no, water issues didn't factor into my decision to move back to NM.

That being said, there definitely are certainly water issues/environmental issues in New Mexico, much like there would be some issues to consider in any part of the country. I guess I tend to picture a Mountain Project member as someone who isn't going to come buy a McMansion in Rio Rancho and run a sprinkler 24/7 in order to grow a patch of grass on their lawn.

Back to the question though - coming from Homer, AK may make Albuquerque seem huge in comparison. But you certainly wouldn't be lacking for smaller towns to make home around the state, all of which would be nearer to climbing than you currently are.

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By Owen Summerscales
From Los Alamos, NM
Nov 26, 2013
Gerle creek at loon lake
I live in los alamos, a small company town in the jemez 30 mins west of santa fe. Santa fe is our local gym. I cant speak for living in santa fe - though I know jobs are thin on the ground - but it certainly has a thriving culture and restaurant scene due to the tourism.

Climbing-wise, new mexico is phenomenal. People like to compare the crags to better ones in neighbouring states (negatively), but dont let that put you off - the climbing within 2 hours of santa fe is excellent, with a great climbing climate to boot. I am a boulderer, and very happy with the essentially limitless bouldering at ponderosa, box and roy. Within 2 hours you have sandstone, gneiss, granite, limestone, quartzite, rhyolite, basalt, diacite and tuff to play with... oh and plenty of choss thrown in to the mix too of course.

The dry climate allows us to climb a lot outdoors and probably takes a bit of business away from indoor gyms. As a consequence, gyms out here are small and not of super high quality - or non-existent.

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By bobbin
Nov 26, 2013
Alex, IMO you are overthinking this, and I mean this to be constructive not critical. Anybody living in the US (or Scandinavia) is consuming / having far more impact than global average, no matter which state. There is no sense in living where you'd be dissatisfied and rather be someplace else. About all you can do is conduct yourself in a responsible way and try to encourage others to do the same - no mcmansion, don't have a grass lawn in the Southwest, don't commute two hours to work.

FWIW, I lived in New Jersey in the mid-90s during grad school, and while it was hardly a paradise of open space then, the amount of sprawl and build-up since then is really noticeable, lots of farms turned into subdivisions. Not that I want to move back to NJ, but the sprawl problem is everywhere after 20 years of cheap credit. New Mexico, Arizona, etc have no special claim on wishing people would stop moving in and changing the way it used to be.

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Nov 27, 2013
At the BRC
Alex Washburne wrote:
I'm not sure if they like obnoxious Americans in Norway...


Not many people in America like obnoxious Americans either.

Sounds like you have no choice but to move to Boulder.

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