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The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch)

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Evil Paradise Area 
Grotto End (L. Side) 
Grotto End (R. Side) 
Lower Grotto 
Right Side of Grotto Entrance 
Upper Tier of The Grotto 
Venarete Area 
Winter Capacity Wall 

The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch)  

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Location: 35.8054, -106.14319 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Anthony Stout on Mar 6, 2006
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Scene from within the Grotto.


The Grotto is the premium area to climb in Diablo Canyon. It is a slot canyon trimmed out of the upper portion of the south wall. It is filled with large boulders interlaced with fairly lush (for NM) vegetation. While it runs NE to SW the north facing wall is much higher, keeping The Grotto shady for most of the day. The sun peeks through both ends of the canyon during the early morning and late afternoon respectively. However, during January, February, and March an unseasonably warm day is necessary for comfortable climbing.

Climbs in The Grotto range from 5.8 to 12+. The rock ranges from good to great with everything from long and steep to short and slaby. Lots of flat boulders provide spots to lounge, lunch, or both while keeping an eye on fellow climbers.

(Text written by Rick Bradshaw)

Getting There 

Follow the new trail (fall 2012) to Runway (Lower Tier). From Runway (Lower Tier), hike easy terrain west to the Grotto. The new trail starts in the arroyo straight across from the trail to the Winter Wall.

Alternatively, you can take the old, long-used but steeper, nastier, approach to the Grotto. For this, stay in the main arroyo past Winter Wall and past the Solar Cave and look for a decent trail in the dirt embankment on the left. Take this trail and wind your way up through talus and screen to the top.

Climbing Season

Weather station 6.7 miles from here

51 Total Routes

['4 Stars',8],['3 Stars',23],['2 Stars',11],['1 Star',9],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch):
Class Act   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Sport   Right Side of Grotto Entran...
Good   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Lower Grotto
Waiting to Procrastinate   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport   Lower Grotto
Bong Crack (aka Surficial Scratch)   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   Right Side of Grotto Entran...
Evil Paradise   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 80'   Evil Paradise Area
Sunday Bloody Sunday (aka Tight Little Package)   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad   Evil Paradise Area
Evil   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Lower Grotto
Guillotine Crack   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   Upper Tier of The Grotto
El Areto Bolto Del Diablo   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 90'   Evil Paradise Area
Affirmative Action   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport   Lower Grotto
Chopping Block   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Lower Grotto
Prescribed Burn   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 65'   Grotto End (L. Side)
Woogie's Wild Ride   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 90'   Right Side of Grotto Entran...
Where the Wild Things Aren't   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport   Grotto End (R. Side)
Bedeviled   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Lower Grotto
Better Late than Never   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   Lower Grotto
Bush in a Blender   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Lower Grotto
In the Court of the Crimson King   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Right Side of Grotto Entran...
Unnamed ArÍte (a.k.a. UNA)   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Grotto End (R. Side)
Trailer Park Girls   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport   Grotto End (R. Side)
Browse More Classics in The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch)

Featured Route For The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch)
Dave Mills enjoying Guillotine climbing.

Guillotine Crack 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b  NM : Santa Fe Area : ... : Upper Tier of The Grotto
Guillotine Crack is the among the finest of the crack climbs in Diablo, with perfect jams through pumpy cruxes. Great positioning high above the canyon with good gear makes this climb worth it. It might be found hard at 5.10, especially if you're not tuned into Indian Creek-style crack climbing. While the route's name is ominous, the Guillotine Flake for which it was named was removed from the route long ago.Only the excellent 2nd pitch is described here. The original first pitch is i...[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

Photos of The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch) Slideshow Add Photo
Overview of The Grotto (adapted from Rick Bradshaw...
BETA PHOTO: Overview of The Grotto (adapted from Rick Bradshaw...
Evening light on the upper end of the Grotto, righ...
Evening light on the upper end of the Grotto, righ...
Beguin in the Grotto.
Beguin in the Grotto.

Comments on The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch) Add Comment
Show which comments
By Mannie
From: Santa fe, NM
Aug 21, 2012
found a small set of cams at the grotto left end! Right at the belay ledge, a few camalots, c3's, and an alien or two. Exciting to find but I know i'd be pissed if I forgot this stuff. Lemme know, mlopez364@gmail.com
good luck!
By Aaron Miller
From: Santa Fe, NM
Sep 26, 2012
Follow the new trail to the Runway Wall. Then hike easy terrain around to the Grotto. Starts in the arroyo just across from the trail to the Winter Wall/Cave areas.
By DisturbingThePeace
From: Albuquerque, NM
Oct 13, 2014
What do people think about simplifying this area and re-organizing it into only 2 sub areas, Grotto Left (East) Side and Grotto Right (West) Side? This would make finding individual climbs much easier and simplify things.
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
Oct 13, 2014
I like the idea of a reorganization of the areas to make it more clear. The organization of the Grotto here has always confused me and even after many years of climbing there, I'm still confused by it. :-)
Grotto Left (East) and Grotto Right (West) would be clean. Any thoughts on sub-areas in within these two areas or is that too much and not really needed?
By DisturbingThePeace
From: Albuquerque, NM
Oct 14, 2014
I think as George mentions keeping the upper tier climbs separate is a good idea. Otherwise I don't like having too many sub areas as it leads to clicking back and forth a lot to see all the climbs.
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
Oct 20, 2014
Thanks for the input fellas. A re-org of the area is on my list. Any others out there have an opinion on the re-org of The Grotto area?
By George Perkins
From: Los Alamos, NM
Mar 23, 2015
Grotto Left (East), L->R:
Ken's Shitty Route (K.S.R.) S 5.10d
Chopping Block S 5.11a
Snazz By Nazz (aka Access Crack, Guillotine Crack p1) T 5.8
Diabolical S 5.11c
Evil S 5.10d
Good S 5.10b
Bush in a Blender S 5.12a
Bergers Bakeshop S 5.10d
Affirmative Action S 5.11a
Muscle Crow S 5.12b/c
Waiting to Procrastinate S 5.10b
Better Late than Never S 5.11d
Bedeviled S 5.11c/d
Evil Paradise S 5.10c
Hidden Slab S 5.10a
Panic Attack T 5.9 PG13
Sunday Bloody Sunday (aka Tight Little Package) T 5.10c
Lucifer's Hammer Drill S 5.12d
El Areto Bolto Del Diablo S 5.10d
Drama Queen S 5.10d
Cruella de Vil S 5.10c
Ojo S 5.12b
Unknown (Crack right of Ojo) T 5.11
Prescribed Burn S 5.11a/b
Memory Block S 5.10a

Grotto Left (East), Upper Tier, L->R:
Skyline Arete, The S 5.11d
Mary Poppins S 5.12+
Guillotine Crack T 5.10d

Grotto Right (West), L->R:
Exit Arete S 5.11a
Tenable S 5.9
Untenable S 5.11c
Unnamed ArÍte (a.k.a. UNA) S 5.12b
Sin after Sin S 5.13a
Tweak Fuck S,TR 5.14a
Trailer Park Girls S 5.12b
Where the Wild Things Aren't S 5.11c
Buck Tooth (AKA Spearhead) S 5.11d
Happy Face (AKA Kitchen Sink) S 5.10a
Unknown S 5.11b
Winter Warm-up T 5.8
Winter Capacity S 5.11a
Venarete S 5.12b
666 S 5.11-
Crack Wars (aka Crack Whores) T 5.10c
Ruffles Have Ridges T 5.10a
Unknown aka "Box of Chocolates" S 5.13-
In the Court of the Crimson King S 5.12a
Rickety Rock S 5.11c
Class Act S 5.10a/b
Bong Crack (aka Surficial Scratch) T 5.10c
Where the World Ends T,S 5.12b/c
Woogie's Wild Ride S 5.11b
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