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Utopian Vistas

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(A1) Utopian Vista Upper Tier 
(A2) White Riot Wall Upper Tier 
(L1) John Nichol's Wall 
(L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall 
(L3) El Grito Del Norte Wall 
(L4) Dammit Samet Wall 
(L5) Good Craic Wall 
(L6) Mud Palace Wall 
(L7) Where the Bobbalo Roam 
Cairned Crag 
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Utopian Vistas  


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 6,300'
Location: 36.3671, -105.7276 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 51,880
Administrators: Mike Howard, Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Mike Howard on Oct 12, 2009
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The beautifully scenic Utopian Vistas

Description and Geology 

A nice collection of quality climbing on iron hard pocketed basalt. There is something here for everybody and a few more to come. From vertical to overhanging jug-hauls, to technical corners, powerful roofs and thin fingers. Mostly sport, some mixed and a few classic trad pieces in sound, clean stone. Set above the "Rock Garden" of the Rio Grande Box, this area is surrounded by climbing areas, rafting, fishing, camping, and mountainbiking all about 20 miles from the town of Taos. Expect solitude, which means low traffic and no chalk marks.

Celebrating the spirit of escapism, independence and defiance many of these route names honor the visionaries, artists, authors and crazies that saw a Utopia in Northern New Mexico's Vistas.

These are new routes and they might still give up a hold or two so a helmet is recommended. Yearly freeze thaw can be severe on New Mexico's basalt, climb with caution.


The geology of the Rio Grande Box is largely volcanic. Olivine tholeiite basalt forms the three main layers of the Servilleta Basalt. The middle basalt unit is separated from the upper and lower tiers by layers of sediment forming the benches. These horizontal basalt layers of dark-gray, pahoehoe (ropey), vesicular (air pocketed) lava compose the main climbing walls in the gorge (Vista Verde, Utopian Vistas, Dead Cholla, John Dunn area, Horse Thief, etc.). The rock we climb in the upper Box area of the Wild and Scenic is more dense, can be red to light brown and was not from the lateral Servilleta flow. These remnants of volcanic plugs are more appropriately termed dacite, and it may contain crystal inclusions known as phenocrysts. The middle box or La Junta section has several examples of swirled volcanic rock from old low relief dacite volcanos. Miners' crag is a nice example. The wall across from Miners' is also a remnant.

Star ratings are relative to this area.

Getting There 

See Dead Cholla under Taos Area or click the Aerial Photo link above for driving instructions to Dead Cholla parking area.
From the well signed Dead Cholla parking area...head up river (North) along the edge of the cliff band.

From the Dead Cholla (trailhead for the West Rim Trail) parking, it's about 15 minutes along the West Rim Trail to the wash on the rim -- if you continue past there to where the power lines cross the gorge, you've gone too far (maybe half again too far).

If you time the walk -- at 6 minutes from the car, the trail makes its first significant bend east toward the rim before bending back north; there is a second one of these at 9 minutes. When you hit the third such bend at 15 minutes, you are there -- look for a pullout on the right just as you come over a rise (the rim of the wash).

Drop southerly (right) along the wash to the rim, and follow cairns left (north) along the base of the Upper Tier, then, as Bob says, pretty much straight downhill from Black Mamba, the pretty black-streaked corner. The trail goes down past the juniper and deposits you at the south end of the lower cliff."

Climbing Season



Weather station 9.2 miles from here

141 Total Routes

['4 Stars',6],['3 Stars',52],['2 Stars',51],['1 Star',30],['Bomb',2]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',4],['5.8',7],['5.9',17],['5.10',44],['5.11',53],['5.12',15],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Utopian Vistas:
Tijerina   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Easy Rider Crack   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Klein's Corner   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 80'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Forever Jung   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
On the Mesa   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Sport, 55'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
LSD   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, 50'   (A1) Utopian Vista Upper Ti...
Wizard of Loneliness   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 70'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
Nirvana Blues   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 70'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
Chomping at the Bit   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 70'   (L5) Good Craic Wall
Stimulus Package   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 55'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
Utopian Vistas (var.)   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 80'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Obamanos!   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
Modest Mouse   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, 50'   (A1) Utopian Vista Upper Ti...
El Grito del Norte   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, Sport, 85'   (L3) El Grito Del Norte Wa...
Milagro Beanfield War   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
Hopper's Hangover   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Sport, 80'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Black Mamba   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 50'   (A1) Utopian Vista Upper Ti...
Browse More Classics in Utopian Vistas

Featured Route For Utopian Vistas
The Dennis in Taos.

Hopper's Hangover 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b  NM : Taos Area : ... : (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Traverse under roof to clip third bolt and then crank off of shallow tips to high left rib. This should make you hurl. Enjoy a hands free rest at next bolt and set up for the sustained pockets of the classic arete finish on Utopian Vistas....[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

Photos of Utopian Vistas Slideshow Add Photo
Utopian vistas.
Utopian vistas.
View from the rim at the parking spot above the crag. Upper tier climb anchors are right off the lip in the foreground.  The descent is a 100 ft further along this rim to the south (right in photo)
BETA PHOTO: View from the rim at the parking spot above the cr...
Taking in the view with Ron Olsen and Jack Roberts
Taking in the view with Ron Olsen and Jack Roberts
View Looking West.  Shows relative locations and approaches to Dead Cholla and Utopian Vistas
BETA PHOTO: View Looking West. Shows relative locations and a...

Comments on Utopian Vistas Add Comment
Show which comments
By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Apr 1, 2007
Oooh! We can't wait for the TBA! Looks like a great basalt area. How long you gonna keep us waiting... :-)
By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Apr 3, 2007
Fair enough, Bob, thanks! R. Rumsey said he heard from you recently and you mentioned the potential here. Nice work! Looking forward to it....
By carlos
From: Taos, NM
Apr 21, 2007
Thanks again, Bob. If you need any help with any of this development, I would be more than happy to help. Otherwise can't wait to climb it when it's complete.
By carlos
From: Taos, NM
Jul 14, 2007
Great work...can't wait till it cools down again so I can enjoy these crags some more. Thanks again!
By Mike Howard
Administrator
May 17, 2008
Much better directions Matt, and thanks for the "Viva!", we were pretty inspired by the locale and Taos history as well. Can I quote you in the directions? Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Bob and Jay should take the credit for the vision, I just drill holes where they point. Joel Tinl and Thor Husted were also fruitful out there and there is some more to do. Ask Jay about some of the other things he has been working on. Bueno-bye, Mike
By Jfoley
May 18, 2008
Not true Mike! This area was very much Mike and Bob's vision and hard work. I was handed a route or two on a silver platter. Matt, glad to see you've been back in the 505/575. Let's hook up soon.
By Mike Howard
Administrator
Dec 8, 2008
Great to hear. We have been extending the area to the North and put up some great (IMO) climbs on the next shorter (50-60 ft) wall. Yeah, that numbering thing can be a PIA, particularly if you keep adding routes in between. But, the rock does climb well, certainly has that outdoor gym feel. And the location is classic New Mexico. Although it's not 15 minutes out the back door I think you'll agree it might warrant the carbon. Thanks for all the comments/help. Bueno, Mike
By Mick S
Oct 11, 2010
Not much traffic on these routes I assume, there is still a fair bit of loose rock, bring a helmet.
By Bowe Ellis
From: Taos, NM
May 18, 2014
I returned to UV today and have to say that this area really is fantastic. The rock is superb in most places, generally the great varnished reddish basalt similar to Dead Cholla, but with more holds. Mike and Bob did us a great service to put this crag up, all 130+ routes! Some routes are the best sport routes in Taos.

The approach from the Carson Rd/West Rim Road intersection is faster and flatter. Park in the pullout just north of the intersection (off the West Rim Road). Walk something like 15 paces south from the telephone pole and you'll see the old two-track leading off to the east. Follow this due east for 1/2 mile. It joins the West Rim Trail, turn left, and keep walking 100 yd east to a flat pullout with a cairn. The UV trail leaves here, heading south along the rim for 100 yd before dropping in.