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Winter/spring: Cold weather routes near albuquerque
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By Michael Z
Dec 1, 2013

Im moving to albuquerque in january, just for the spring. Any suggestions for my first outings? low altitude areas and sunny routes ideally. easy access, easy trad is a bonus, but id even settle as low as bouldering ;) I'm im hoping to get on rock ASAP and make the most out of my 4ish months down there of weekend warrior-ing (keep in mind im a Minnesotanite, im not afraid of a little chilly climbing)

Best guidebooks and gyms are also welcome info (as well as good places to eat and live in Albuquerque, but thats a whole new can of worms)


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By Kristin Brown
From Albuquerque, New Mexico
Dec 1, 2013

We often climb at Box Canyon near Socorro in the colder months; in fact, we were just there today and the weather was slightly chilly, but not bad at all. www.mountainproject.com/v/box-canyon-area/105791039

Stone Age Climbing Gym is opening a new location in March, and you can still go to the old location right now. It's a great gym. www.climbstoneage.com

Welcome to New Mexico! :)


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By rockcarl
From Orange County, CA
Dec 1, 2013
Ascending a static line at Rockreation during a self-rescue workshop (photo credit: Rockreation Costa Mesa)

I'm heading down to the Albuquerque area at around Christmas for about a week, and I was wondering what the situation at the Stone Age gym... do they have autobelays (or an abundance of willing belay partners)?


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By Brettro
From Albuquerque, NM
Dec 2, 2013

They have between 3-6 autobelays at any given time, most of which are usually relatively free.


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By David Sahalie
From on the road again
Dec 2, 2013

Wind is more of an issue as spring goes on than cold. On most days, Jan and Feb are prime climbing months in NM.


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By rockcarl
From Orange County, CA
Dec 2, 2013
Ascending a static line at Rockreation during a self-rescue workshop (photo credit: Rockreation Costa Mesa)

^^Thanks for the info.. I'll definitely try to make it out when I'm over there!


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By Michael Z
Dec 3, 2013

Thanks for the info, Kristin. Looks like that will be my "home" crag, at least to start! if you ever need a weekend warrior buddy let me know, i'll have everything but a belay (well..I wont have a pad either...)


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By Joshua Payne
From Los Alamos, NM
Dec 4, 2013

If you're looking for easy trad, consider making trips up to White Rock on the weekends. It's about a 1.5 hr drive from Abq and there are a bunch of different crags to chose from.

A really good beginner trad area is Potrillo Cliffs: www.mountainproject.com/v/potrillo-cliffs/106099722

It's a south-facing cliff so it should stay warm throughout winter.


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By Michael Z
Dec 7, 2013

Anybody have any winter experience at cochise stronghold? How bout the drive from Abl?


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By Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Dec 7, 2013

Michael Z wrote:
Anybody have any winter experience at cochise stronghold? How bout the drive from Abl?

Cochise is around 6 to 8 hours from ABQ. Winter weather can be okay if you can pick-and-choose your days to avoid systems that periodically come through <- key.


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By nick serrano
From Albuquerque, NM
Dec 11, 2013
Chest Full of Kind (IC 5.10)

You might also try Diablo Canyon in the winter months. Mainly bolted, some multi-pitch and some trad lines also.


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By Michael Z
Dec 16, 2013

What is an appropriate time to start thinking about the sandia mtns? any suggestions for reliable spring routes? obviously it depends on the spring, but a ballpark...?


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By Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Dec 16, 2013

Michael Z wrote:
What is an appropriate time to start thinking about the sandia mtns? any suggestions for reliable spring routes? obviously it depends on the spring, but a ballpark...?


There are quite a few routes that can be done with one to seven days of good weather following a storm during winter months. The approaches and exits may take some planning and / or effort to deal with snow; and it helps if you don't mind dealing with some snow on the route itself. That and team efficiency might make the difference between getting back to the car before dark to avoid a winter night out. Here's some that come to mind, kind of arranged from least committing to most committing plus allowing for more days of good weather after a storm:

Lower Domingo Baca Slabs (AKA: The Ribcage) - a little scrappy in terms of vegetation
Flake n' Bake - an adventurous spirit can make this a fun day
Knife Edge of the Shield - believe there are comments about dealing w/ snow
Southeast Ridge of Ego Boost - heed the comments about gate hours
Standard S Route of The Shield - consider exit by down-climbing the Knife Edge
Southeast Ridge of The Pulpit - bring boots / gaitors for after the rap

Perhaps others will want to chime in about winter months.

The upper Sandias open up more in the spring months, of course depending on snow pack. Will add some more routes later unless others beat me too it. :-)


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By Paul Davidson
Dec 17, 2013

There's a great story about Randall Jett going down off the top to ski the talus fields. Found some good turns, ran some laps, turned around to hike out as the dark descended and discovered that some of the switchbacks across the talus and such had in the meantime frozen up solid and plastic tele boots without an ice axe make for some desperate moves. So desperate in fact that I believe they ended up going down hill after some aborted and frightening attempts to make it back up.

Randall's wife at the time was waiting on him to show and finally freaked and called out SAR. Eventually they stumbled out down at the base and walked up to the SAR guys and asked them what was up and who was lost ;-) RIP Randall.

The Sandys are climbing in the mountains. When things open up depends on a lot of factors. Bouldering at U Mound good place to start as it's accessible.


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By Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Dec 18, 2013

Great story, Paul. Also reminds me of times when morning approaches can be dicey in the hard snow, later becoming an afternoon slush-fest before turning hard once again.


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By Bill Lawry
From New Mexico
Jan 10, 2014

Michael Z wrote:
What is an appropriate time to start thinking about the sandia mtns? any suggestions for reliable spring routes? obviously it depends on the spring, but a ballpark...?


As for 'reliable' moderately easy spring routes, here are a few to add to the above:

Crackula - if wanting sun at the bottom and mid-point belay, wait until the afternoon.
The Ramp - may need to skip first belay ledge if full of snow; pretty well protected against strong winds out of the west; perhaps more sun in late morning / early afternoon.
The Second Coming - can be deep / hard snow at the bottom of the approach; P2 and maybe the start of P3 involve route finding; don't count on basking in the sun until about half way up unless climbing well enough to start late.

And the usual disclaimer applies: it depends on the spring.


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