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El Malpais
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Surfin' the Turf 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

   
Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 250'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Dahrling & Baltz, 1976
Page Views: 686
Submitted By: David Baltz on Nov 9, 2009

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Malpais 101: Introduction to sandstone.

Description 

(1) Climb a chimney for 40 feet to a ledge. Traverse left on the ledge and ascend the crack above (5.7)**. This crack is the left side of parallel chimney/cracks. When possible, move back right into the original crack and continue up turf to a belay at a small pine tree. (2) Scramble up and south over turf and boulders to the top of the buttress. (3) Move up through some steep orange caprock for an exposed finish (5.6).

  • ** Tarantula Variation
Instead of traversing left into the other crack, continue straight up (5.7+) until rejoining the standard route.

Descent: Move south 50 ft(?) and downclimb 15 feet to a ledge with a large tree. Two single rope rappels to the base.

Location 

Near the north end of the Narrows. Mile 9.2 from the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook turnoff. The route ascends a set of parallel chimney cracks diagonalling left to right behind a butress. Most easily seen travelling south. Look for a tall dead pine at the base.

Protection 

Standard rack to 4" and slings.


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By Howard Snell
From: Belen, New Mexico
Jun 25, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

With the 2011 fire closure of the Sandias, I've looked for multi-pitch traditional routes elsewhere, but close enough to Albuquerque. Made our first El Malpais climb on Surfin' the Turf yesterday. Had a great day. The route description here is perfect and the rating seems accurate. I'll admit that our sandstone crack & chimney skills were rusty, so we grovelled on two sections of the first pitch! I carried the first pitch a few meters beyond the small tree and built a gear anchor at a flat sandy ledge. Slung the tree a couple of feet up to provide a directional keeping the rope up out of the dirt.
We used a C4 #5 and #6 in some of the crack sections of P1. Probably not absolutely necessary gear, but provided some peace of mind while I grovelled.
We walked off towards the "La Ventana Arch" because the rappel route looked susceptible to rock fall - lots of loose stuff on the ledge around the trees. That's a long hot descent so working out the rappel might be better. All the slings we saw were old (weathered grey with lichens growing on them - might have been blue 1" originally), I'd replace them for rappel.
Route stays mostly shaded until 11:30 - 12:30. It was 103 in Alubuquerque the day we climbed yet our climb was fine - Just take some water and avoid the hike to La Ventana.