Pronounced Sugar-reet. A 40-50' basalt cliff with a variety of fun vertical cracks & face climbs. Climbs have all been led, but toproping is possible on virtually all climbs: anchors (often bolts) are easily set up (you may need a longer stretch of webbing/rope for some of the climbs). The altitude (around 8,000') means that climbing can be nice even in the summer; however, the cliff faces SE, so it may get too warm even here. Rock quality on the established climbs is usually very good.
Sugarite is NE of the town of Raton, NM. Raton is about 20 miles south of the Colorado border on Interstate 25. To get to the cliff: take exit 452 onto Highway 72. Follow 72 east and take a mild left onto 526 (signs point the way to Sugarite). As you travel up this road and enter the park, you will either need to pay the day-use fee ($5 in 2008) at the kiosk, or continue up to your campground (you pay either the day-use fee or the camping fee [$10], not both). About 2.5 miles past the visitor center (has free showers!) is a dirt road leading left to Soda Pocket Campground. The campground is just under 2 miles up the road (and is the logical place to stay if climbing), but the parking for the climbing is just after a corral (~1.3 miles from the turn). The main trail, "Little Horse Mesa" trail leaves from the right side of the road near a sign that says "No horses or mules beyond this point". Approach the cliff-top from this trail: (it heads up the valley for a half mile or so, splits to the right (this is signed well), hump up the steep, but short hill and then walk the half mile back to the top of the cliff. You will know you are close when you see a dry lake bed on your left. There is another trail that leads to the bottom of the cliff; it starts by taking the main trail to the right from the parking area for 3-400 yards. If you can spot the cairns, follow the faint trail through brambles and talus to the base. ( I would recommend the clifftop trail on your first visit, then leave via the other trail so you know where it goes....)
S&M Crack is one of three routes at Sugarite dubbed as "megaclassics" by Dennis Jackson in his "Rock Climbing New Mexico" book. At 75 feet in length it is also the longest route at Sugarite. Start off some blocks at the base following some broken flakes and finger crack from protection up to a large roof/bulge. Pull up and around the roof via some committing laybacking to the hand crack above. If you're pumped like I was, a large ledge just off to the left about half way up the route offers a...[more]Browse More Classics in NM
It does not say it in the guidebook, but be very careful because of bears in the thick trees on the approach to cliff. You are almost guaranteed to see a few and I have repeatedly come within 10 to 20 feet of moms and cubs in this area; each time was quite a surprise. Usually they are cool and wander off.
Don't leave food in the pack and use caution when camping nearby, although I don't think the local bears are Yosemite-caliber thieves yet and able to break into cars.