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The Tunnel

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The Tunnel  

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Elevation: 6,500'
Location: 32.9461, -105.8602 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 63,885
Administrators: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Monomaniac on Feb 6, 2007
This Afternoon

66° | 50°

70° | 52°

73° | 54°
Columbus Day

72° | 51°

69° | 51°

73° | 49°
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BETA PHOTO: Overview of the Tunnel with approach routes marked


The Tunnel provides high-grade sport climbing on generally mediocre limestone, in a beautiful desert setting. This crag has been popular among Alamogordo locals for decades, but has only recently caught the attention of the general populace. Grades range from 5.7 to 5.14a, however, don't expect to enjoy the climbing unless you climb at least 5.11c. The crag really excels in the 5.12+ - 5.13 grades. With more than 15 routes 5.13 and harder, the Tunnel offers the highest concentration of hard climbing in the state.

Like many NM crags, the Tunnel is an acquired taste. Cliffs become covered in dust and grime after summer rains, and the lack of traffic ensures that almost all of the routes provide a "First Ascent" vibe each time you visit. It's common for projecting climbers to clean their objectives from rappel prior to attempting. Others complain of the repetitive nature of the crags slopey crimps, the ubiquitous cliff-base graffiti, or the noise pollution common to such road-side crags. However, if you can disregard these drawbacks, the Tunnel has a lot to offer.

The Tunnel is located entirely on Lincoln National Forest. Occasionally the forest closes due to fire danger, as in the late Spring/Summer of 2006. Additionally, as with any road-side crag, be extremely cautious not to knock rocks and debris onto the highway.

Note on Star-Ratings: For my own purposes, I've decided that 3 stars is the limit for this crag, due to the stank rock. So if I give a route here 3 stars, that's as good as it gets!

Getting There 

The Tunnel is approximately 10 miles NE of Alamogordo on Highway 82. Begin just North of Alamogordo at the junction of highway 54 and 82. Head East on 82 for 7 miles. The road winds up into the mountains towards Cloudcroft, passing several small limestone cliffbands. About 5.5 miles up the road, a dirt road appears on the right (south) side of the road. There is ultra-ghetto free camping down this road. At about 7 miles a signed pullout appears on the left (N) side of the road, about 200 yards before the road enters a tunnel. There is only one tunnel on this road, so its pretty hard to get confused. Please park only in the official pullout on the north side of the highway. The "Sunny Side" crags are located to the North of the highway, and the "Shady Side" crags are on the South side of the highway.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.4 miles from here

61 Total Routes

['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',28],['2 Stars',23],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Tunnel:
Runaway Truck   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 35'   Shady Side : Far Side Right
Warm Up   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 50'   Shady Side : Mid-Town
Bandit   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 55'   Shady Side : Shady Side Left
The Dig   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 75'   Sunny Side : The Dig
El Nino   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport   Shady Side : Mid-Town
Scott   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Shady Side : Shady Side Left
Jump Start   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 70'   Sunny Side : Sunny Side (Right End)
The Arete   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport   Shady Side : Mid-Town
HIVD   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 50'   Shady Side : Shady Side Left
Heat Stroke Straight Up   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 70'   Sunny Side : Sunny Side (Right End)
Julie   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport   Shady Side : Shady Side Left
George   5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b     Sport   Shady Side : Shady Side Left
Gluttony   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 75'   Sunny Side : The Dig
Jerk Off   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 35'   Shady Side : Shady Side Left
Mocè   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 50'   Shady Side : Mid-Town
Guchi   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 50'   Shady Side : Mid-Town
Rebecca   5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c     Sport, 70'   Shady Side : Shady Side Left
Down in a Hole   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 75'   Sunny Side : The Dig
Oktoberfest   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 60'   Shady Side : Shady Side Left
Big Bad Love (a.k.a. Bill)   5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a     Sport, 70'   Shady Side : Shady Side Left
Browse More Classics in The Tunnel

Featured Route For The Tunnel
Nearing the upper slab crux of Sun Burn

Sun Burn 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a  NM : New Mexico, other Southern ... : ... : Sunny Side (Right End)
Though not as good as its neighbor to the right, Sun Burn offers enjoyable moves on decent rock. Begin on dark rock with a tough gaston move right off the ground. Traverse right, then up on good holds to seam/crack feature right of the bolt line. A big reach from an undercling and some dynamic stabs will get you to a set of slopey crimps, where it will be necessary to traverse back left (crux) to a large, obvious hole. From the hole, traverse left, then up on good jugs, and a double-kneebar ...[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

Photos of The Tunnel Slideshow Add Photo
This Chuckwalla just wouldn't leave the first hold...
This Chuckwalla just wouldn't leave the first hold...
Across the valley from mid-town on the shady side.
Across the valley from mid-town on the shady side.

Comments on The Tunnel Add Comment
Show which comments
By 426
Mar 19, 2007
Glad someone is adding this type of stuff...thx
By Joe Collins
Mar 28, 2007
Nearly all FAs at the Tunnel are courtesy of John Hymer. Some of the harder routes are courtesy of Chris Grijalva and Lance Hadfield.
By Devin C.
Oct 15, 2008
I dont know if this is the right place to ask, but here it goes. Does anyone know if the tunnel has been reopened. we climbed out there a few weeks ago, we didn't see any signs posted and were completely unaware that it was closed. we're planning on heading out again this upcomming weekend, but if it's still closed we'll have to go elswhere.

thanks for any info
By Dan Carter
From: Las Cruces, NM
Oct 27, 2008
The parking lot (that has been under construction most of the year) next to the tunnel is now open.
By Dan Carter
From: Las Cruces, NM
Sep 24, 2012
Just saw this about some new, hard routes put up at the Tunnel this year.

By Keith Beckley
Oct 1, 2013
Can someone tell me where there is some reasonably decent camping without ATV's and loud partiers somewhat close to The Tunnel? All it has to be is a flat spot to prepare meals and sleep. No amentities required. Thanks
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