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

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Gilligan's Island (a.k.a. The Alcove) 
Grotto Left (East Side) 
Grotto Right (West Side) 
Upper Tier of The Grotto 

The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch)  

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


68° | 45°

68° | 45°

71° | 46°

73° | 49°

76° | 49°
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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 5.14a. The rock ranges from good to great with everything from long and steep to short and slabby. 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

59 Total Routes

['4 Stars',7],['3 Stars',28],['2 Stars',14],['1 Star',10],['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   Grotto Right (West Side)
Good   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Grotto Left (East Side)
Waiting to Procrastinate   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport   Grotto Left (East Side)
Bong Crack (a.k.a. Surficial Scratch)   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   Grotto Right (West Side)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (aka Tight Little Package)   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad   Grotto Left (East Side)
Evil Paradise   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 80'   Grotto Left (East Side)
Evil   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Grotto Left (East Side)
El Areto Bolto Del Diablo   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 90'   Grotto Left (East Side)
Guillotine Crack   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   Upper Tier of The Grotto
Affirmative Action   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport   Grotto Left (East Side)
Prescribed Burn   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 65'   Grotto Left (East Side)
Where the Wild Things Aren't   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport   Grotto Right (West Side)
Bedeviled   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Grotto Left (East Side)
Woogie's Wild Ride   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 90'   Grotto Right (West Side)
Bush in a Blender   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Grotto Left (East Side)
Venarete   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 75'   Grotto Right (West Side)
Trailer Park Girls   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport   Grotto Right (West Side)
Unnamed ArÍte (a.k.a. UNA)   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Grotto Right (West Side)
Muscle Crow   5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Grotto Left (East Side)
Sin after Sin   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Grotto Right (West Side)
Browse More Classics in The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch)

Featured Route For The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch)
Getting a good shake out and rest before moving in...

Prescribed Burn 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c  NM : Santa Fe Area : ... : Grotto Left (East Side)
Located at the far (south) end of the Grotto's left side are two enjoyable routes with nice position. Prescribed Burn is the left route of the two. Access the base of the route via a short fourth class scramble up the small ridge below the route or hike around the ridge and back up. From the belay platform, edge out left and up to clip the first bolt in a green, lichen-covered face. Side pull your way up to the big, comfy ledge. From the big ledge, climb cracks up and left past the second bolt ...[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
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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 DisturbingThePeace
From: Albuquerque, NM
Jun 1, 2015
I re-organized this area a few weeks ago. Let me know if anyone sees any changes that need made.
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