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Jonny Questa is another quality climb on Questa Dome, with 2 excellent pitches, and a couple more decent pitches, and just enough scariness to get your attention. JQ is worthwhile, however, Tostadas Comquesta or Question of Balance are probably better choices for a first route on Questa Dome, as this one has one heady pitch and does not have as much sustained quality climbing overall compared to those other climbs. This climb is in Taos Rock but not Rock Climbing New Mexico.
Pitch 1&2: There are 2 choices for the first 2 pitches:
- The recommended alternate start to the first pitch which is described in 'Taos Rock' as the 1st two pitches of Sequestered: This alternate start was done about a year after the FA by Mike Head and David Baltz, that starts directly below the slab on the original second pitch. Begin about 200' down slope from the standard start at the base of a slab with a prominent hand crack diagonaling across it from the right. Climb up the slab (some bushwhacking) to a ledge at the base of the diagonal crack and belay (100ft). Follow the crack to the base of a short steep headwall. The headwall goes at 5.10a thanks to a large semi-attached flake and is followed by an excellent layback corner. Belay at the prominent tree (100 ft). These pitches can be combined (60m). Move up right, turn a small roof, then angle back left on the slab, passing two bolts. Step left around the arete and belay at one of the 6' trees.
- The easier original start, as shown in 'Taos Rock': Start a 100 yards up the hill from the cave on the left flank of Questa Dome. Pitch 1: Traverse right across easy slab to gain the prominent left-facing corner and belay off the tree jutting from the obvious crack in the right face of the dihedral (5.5, 120'). Pitch 2: Climb the hand and fingers crack above the tree and step right around the arete onto a nice slab. Climb down the slab a ways and friction right till you can move up again below a shallow roof/arch. Protect under the roof (important), then step left around the end of the roof and proceed 20 feet up a thin vertical dike (5.9+, PG-13). At the top of the dike, step left around a corner and into a corner leading up to a couple of small trees. Belay at lower tree in the left-facing corner about 20' below an obvious roof (150 ft).
Pitch 3: Cruise up to the big roof split by a crack up to the left, clipping a 1/4" bolt just below it. Turn the gear-protected 5.10 roof, followed by easier low-angle crack climbing in a corner. Belay at the highest tree in this corner system. Excellent pitch. (5.10, 120')
Pitch 4: (a) From the high tree, climb a finger crack on the right wall. Place good pro at the top of this finger crack. Walk to your right on a 4" ledge for 20' to the arete, where you will see 2 bolts (1 new, 1 old) just out of reach above you. A 5.9 highstep lets you clip the bolt (don't fall first). The crux of the climb (5.10 if you're over six foot, 5.11 otherwise) is in the next 2 or 3 moves after clipping the bolt. Reaching a jug, move right around the arete. It's not obvious at this point that you're going to find any gear placements for the next 30' or so, but persevere. Climb the beautiful arete, exposed 5.9R with some interesting moves. You will find (marginal) gear in a couple of places here, but I felt this was "serious R" not "wimpy R". Look for a small TCU placement on the second ledge up the arete, and a keyhole stopper in a tiny solution pocket a bit higher. After the difficulty is passed, belay at the biggest tree nearby, after another 20' of easy climbing. Memorable pitch. (5.10/11 with 5.9R, 130'). (b) The Taos Rock guidebook suggests you can escape without climbing this pitch by taking one of the bushy 5.8 dihedrals to the left, which would be a good option in inclement (or windy) weather.
Pitch 5: Easy 5th class leads to the top. If in doubt, angle right. (5.2, 200')
Jonny Questa is on the left side of Questa Dome.. just left of the really good rock, but just right of most of the trees. The top part of pitch 1 and start of pitch 2 follows the only obvious big left-facing dihedral around (for the original start).
To find the start, walk left from Question... past the toe of the Dome, and up the left flank just past a cave. Begin a bit to the left of this cave. If you see a piton about 15' up, it's on Questando la Via sin Arboles, begin just right of this.
Cams from micros to 3", with 2 ea. of #0.4-#1 camalot.
1 set nuts. Tricams useful.
|By David Baltz|
From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Aug 14, 2008
The original first pitch belayed at the tree sticking out of the handcrack in the right face of the dihedral. The second pitch continued up the handcrack to turn the arete and get onto an nice slab. It does not go up the dihedral and out left under the roof. Once on the slab, continue upward to a low roof and step over it onto a polished vertical quartz dike which is one of the more exciting sections.
An alternate (and preferable) start was done about a year after the FA by Mike Head and myself, that starts directly below the slab on the original second pitch. Begin about 200' down slope from the standard start at the base of a slab with a prominent hand crack diagonaling across it from the right. Climb up the slab (some bushwhacking) to a ledge at the base of the diagonal crack and belay (100ft). Follow the crack to the base of a short steep headwall. The headwall goes at 5.10a thanks to a large semi-attached flake and is followed by an excellent layback corner. Belay at the tree (100 ft).
One final note. On the final arete pitch, do not miss the pocket hidden by the small ledge about 15 feet up after moving on to the arete. At this point, you are looking at about a 40 foot fall, but you can get a good piece (0.75" TCU) in the pocket which protects the second hand-foot match. [As of 9/1/2008, this move now seems 10'ish due to some flakes which appear to have broken off.]
|By George Perkins|
From: Los Alamos, NM
Aug 14, 2008
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- E2 5b PG13
Thanks for the advice and corrections, Dave.
The guidebook is not particularly clear on which of the variations are the best choices on this climb. The left (original) start is the easier option but is not as good as the recommended "Sequestered start" to the right. If you do take the original start, you can also bypass the somewhat runout 5.9+ 2nd pitch by going left around the big orange roof directly above the dihedral (this is about 5.9 also). If you do the "Sequestered start", I think you want the first belay at the tree visible from the base (rather than where shown in the original topo or Taos Rock), and a 2nd pitch goes to almost up under the p3 roof crux.
Proud climb you guys put up. I was pretty focused on the 4th arete pitch.
|By David Baltz|
From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mar 29, 2010
After reviewing Paul Horak's topo and notes, I realized the spelling of the name was incorrect and have changed it (removing the 'h' from Johnny). The route was named after a 1960's cartoon character, Jonny Quest.
|By Jason J Patton|
Mar 3, 2011
The first time I went to climb this I had just started up the first pitch when this dude whipped off of QoB on the slippery traverse right before the steep crux moves. He had not placed anything and broke his ankle on the slab below. I Could hear his ankle break. We rapped and helped him hobble back to the car. It felt like a long way to me but he was laughing and joking the whole way. We came back and sent a few weeks later.
|By Sky Sjue|
From: Santa Fe
Jun 16, 2013
Do pitches get any more memorable than that? I'm over 6 ft and the move past the bolt is hard. I second the "proud climb" comment. Also, nice to read the comment about the second hand-foot match because I sure was sweating that move before finding the pocket and plugging some pro.