BETA PHOTO: Overview of Socorro Climbing areas (The Box, Minor...
This area has a series of cliffs and boulders of mixed-quality rhyolite. Nice area for winter climbing and bouldering on days with mild winter temperatures. Summer can be SWELTERING, but shade can be found. One can find a plethora of moderate sport routes in the 5.10- 5.11 range, most of which are bolted, though some require gear placement.
Though initial impression of rock quality may be disappointing, much of the rock is actually quite solid (and it varies depending on the area you are climbing at). There are some routes that have had holds reinforced with glue, and some with chipped holds, however.
Well the climbing is fun, the bouldering is spectacular; particularly within the stream bed area of the box.
Rack: 10 draws, set of wires, and a single set of Camalots up to #3 should be fine. Though, just a set of quick draws will get you up a good percentage of the routes.
Guidebooks: “Rock Climbing New Mexico” by Dennis R. Jackson. Incomplete, but currently the only in-print guide to the area.
"The Enchanted Tower, Sport Climbing Socorro and Datil, New Mexico" by Salomon Maestas and Matthew A. Jones, 1993. (Out of print)
Find Socorro on Interstate 25 (about 1 hour south of Albuquerque). From there head west on US highway 60, and drive about 7 miles. Keep your eyes peeled left as you cross a bridge (you are driving over the bridge that goes over the canyon), and you will see Box Canyon to your left. Just after crossing that bridge turn left onto a dirt road. Follow the road about 0.5 miles, take your first left, and you will park at the end of the road. The majority of the climbing is right inside box canyon, though there are other walls further up the road (Minor wall, Major Wall, and Alcohol wall). Use the attached map to find the locations of these walls.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Socorro Area:
Gave this a "Great" rating just for P1. P2 is okay. Can rap from the top of P1 with a 60 meter rope. Don't let the 5.9 rating scare you away as it applies to the P1 variation and is well protected.P1 5.8R?: Trend left over ledges, then up and back right to first lone bolt (run-out). Then move right and up to a nice left-trending finger crack with good pro on easier terrain. At end of this crack find bolt above and continue up to a horizontal weakness with gear placements. Make a move or t...[more]Browse More Classics in NM
A lot of these routes were put up quite a while back...many of them are listed in my 1993 guidebook. I think they were put up before sport development really turned into an art. And it shows. Non-existent anchors, poorly placed anchors, too many shared anchors, too many unprotected bouldery starts, too many ill-considered bolt placements. It kind of takes the gloss off what SHOULD be a really fun area. The rock is great, the movement is good, but the route development is...not so good. I've never considered retro-bolting to be a topic even worthy of discussion, but this area has made me wonder. I think if I had just discovered this area and were doing the development, I could make it much better. It's not a big deal but I just thought I'd lob it out there. During the 3 days I was at Box I never saw any other climbers. I've never had that happen at Datil (which is not very far away). Is the quality of development part of the reason ?
Yes, I think that the way this area was developed is one of the reasons why this area sees so little traffic. While there are many good / great routes here, there are also many that are missing anchors, need supplemental gear, or were just bolted poorly (Spook Canyon for instance). One example is Hurt Me Not, this climb never saw any traffic prior to it's retrobolting, now their is commonly chalk on it. While I was disappointed at the additional bolts as it takes away from the FA and the few subsequent ascents, I never led it until the extra bolts were added, and it is a single pitch route in a mostly sport climbing area.
Another reason for lack of traffic is that this area needs a good guidebook. The 1993 guidebook is far better and more accurate than the error ridden new Falcon guide, where many routes in the guide either don't exist, are in the wrong location, or aren't mentioned.
It also really depends on the time of year that you visit Socorro. If Datil is climable in most peoples opinions, yes most will head to the Tower, but if you visit in the middle of winter on a weekend I would be absolutely shocked if you did not see others out unless you were purposely trying to avoid other by avoiding the sun. One of Socorros most redeeming qualities is that when everything else is too cold to climb routes Socorro is still generally pleasent.
In addition, a handful of routes are getting "fixed" from time to time, and yes the Falcon guide is terrible, incomplete and inacurrate but is the only guide currently availible. It probably has fewer than half the routes and none of the bouldering which is quite good in places.