Surprisingly good granite bouldering in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, right at the edge of town. Also Albuquerque's best approximation of an "after work crag," at least from late fall to early spring (when it's warmer, Big Block takes that dubious honor). So, when the days get longer, and the latest dusting of snow melts off, get out and shred your fingers at U-Mound! The granite here can be quite rough, but once you know where the more finger-friendly problems are, and have an idea exactly how to grab specific holds, you can manage to keep from wearing through your pads and still get a good crimp-pump.
- "The Official Online Guide to U-Mound Bouldering": www.cs.unm.edu/~moret/u-mound.html It's in a convenient, printable html format, but if you're going to print this out and use it at the boulders, I'd recommend annotating it with info from this site.
Go east on I-40 from basically anywhere in town. Get off at Tramway (last exit before you head up the canyon) and go north until you reach Copper (second light). Turn right on Copper (east toward the mountains), and drive until you arrive at the end of the road, there is a parking area here. Hike north on a trail for ~ 200 yards, keeping the houses to your left and the U-mound (big rocky-topped hill) to your right. Cross a berm with a concrete drainage ditch to your left, and the boulders come into view straight ahead. See photos for details.
This U-Mound classic is on par with The Manatee (in my opinion) but strangely, it sees far less traffic. Perhaps it's the really bad landing or hard to reach start? Either way, this is a must do. While it is definitely easier and not quite as tall as the The Manatee, it requires a different level of commitment and risk. Can also be linked via a low start on the arete which makes it a formidable hard line for those who have U-Mound dialed. ...[more]Browse More Classics in NM
As noted above, there has been an "official" online site for the U-mound for years ( www.cs.unm.edu/~moret/u-mound.html ), and it's been the only source of info available for those curious about the area. However, the maps and descriptions are sketchy, grades are inaccurate and often do not reflect first-hand experience, and many of the best problems are left out. The info available here should provide a good, and hopefully more reliable, supplement to that guide. I'm only submitting problems I've done, and trying to include photo illustrations wherever possible. Please add problems! Photos, too. If you don't have a camera, I'll try to get out and snap a pic of the rock for illustrative purposes. While this section is by no means complete as an area description, it should at least get you through a very enjoyable day at the boulders. I've included many of the best moderates, particularly those which are relatively skin-friendly, and a few harder problems. I'll add more as I get the time - or be my guest and add some yourself. There are plenty of problems not included here, on both ends of the difficulty spectrum, so go out and explore. But beware - there are a lot of sharp holds just waiting to tear your flesh! Also beware that as the weather heats up, the rock gets slick, especially in the full sun. Feet and fingertips can pop off without warning, and the dark, smooth blobs that sometimes seem to offer a good way off the ground can become treacherous (knee bangers). Also, bugs can be bad in the warmer months, especially in the evening when temps are more tolerable. Better to head up to Big Block or pack the car (cooler, family, dog, etc.) for a trip to one of the many good bouldering areas further north in that case. I've tried to give fair ratings here, and when possible I defer to consensus of the local boulderering community. So please write in with comments if you think grades are off. My intent was not to give exact ratings for every problem, particularly given the unusual nature of the climbing for many folks in this area, but rather to try to give a consistent, ballpark sense of difficulty. While many of the grades have been softened in comparison with those on the "official" U-mound bouldering web site, they may still seem stiff if you're not used to granite crimping and pebble-pulling (gym rats take note), particularly at the low end of the spectrum.
Thanks for adding routes and correcting names, Lee. I'll try to keep up with changes on the topos, etc. By the way (anybody), there are a few areas that could use some route descriptions - eg, the north side of the Lower Mound and the cluster of boulders south of the warmup (Jack & Jill) boulders - I think they're called "slabs" and the "Andy's 'Mom likes it' boulder."
Just a quick note. The warm up boulder is actually Brett and Jill. Back in the day someone spray painted it across the traverse. It made the left side really slick. I also made the map (110+ problems) for the Shredfest bouldering comp which my friend John Marino and I started 6 years ago. I have copies at REI if anyone is interested.
Thanks for the tour of the area and adding these pics and descriptions. This place needs to get some publicity, there are some really good problems here. Definitely worth a stop if your in Albuquerque. S.
Glad to hear props from the discerning CO community, sesser125. Let me know if you're headed down again, and we'll give you a more extensive tour. Hope you don't mind having your photos posted. Interesting to hear your opinion that the area could use publicity; I tend to agree. If this area were in CO or a more populated part of CA, I'd want to keep it secret, but here in ABQ, I've yet to experience problems with crowds. Or run into obnoxious climbers that make the experience unpleasant.
Hey all. 'Tis the season...for foothills bouldering! The rock is sticky, the bugs are gone and sending temps are plentiful. But on that note, I was up at U-Mound yesterday evening and the rock looked like a friggen star-gazers map; almost every hold and discernible crystal on the more popular problems (read: most-visible problems) had a mondo blob of chalk on it. If you feel the need to tick your holds, especially if it's to put a mega-tick on anything and everything that even resembles a hold, that's cool, we've all done it, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE try to remember to brush them off when you're done. Not only is it courteous to other climbers who like to look for their holds, but it also lessens our visual impact on the rock to the rest of the non-climbing community and frankly, some of the problems up there had some serious "visual impact". And while you're at it; PLEASE PICK UP YOUR TAPE!!! I mean, really people, how hard is it to put your skanky, used tape in your pocket? It's very simple; as you're removing it, don't let go of it until it is in your pocket, pack, chalk bag, whatever. And before you leave, look around and make sure that said tape is still in your pocket, pack, chalk bag, whatever. Easy as V0 and you'll make your momma proud. So sorry for the rant - let me know if I'm outta line and I'll kill this comment. Cheers and hope you all have a great season.
If you jackasses (you know who you are) need to tick every 5.5 frigging foothold (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD) @ Umound...maybe you should go back to the gym and brush up on your footwork before you come outside and make a mess.
You Mom is not going to clean up after your lazy ass and to tell you the truth...the rest of us are pretty tired of doing it.
Clean up your shit people. It takes 2 seconds to brush the chalk off.
It seems that somebody's been destroying problems at U-mound lately. We found two last week that we think were purposely mangled: 1) West arete of the Brett & Jill boulders (V1 - best warm up at U-mound) - The finishing jug was apparently smashed off with a big rock we found lying at the base. The rock was compact/ smooth and light-colored, clearly out of place next to the grey featured granite of the boulders themselves. We cleaned the problem up as best we could, but what's left is suspiciously crumbly and there's a crack behind the remnants of the jug so the whole thing might come off if you yard on it. It would suck to come off unexpectedly at that point. 2) The corridor problem - A good left hand crimp about 10 feet off the ground has broken and now there's a relatively sharp pinch instead. I suspect somebody smashed that with a rock as well, as it didn't seem like the type of hold that would come off by simply pulling on it. I may be wrong; it's possible that some innocent burly climber may have broken the hold by pulling really hard or standing on it. If that's the case I'd like to know, because a single act of defacement is a lot less concerning than a pattern of such behavior. By the way, both of these holds were high off the ground but were reachable by standing on adjacent boulders. We also found a scattering of human excrement and wads of used toilet paper at the base of the corridor problem. I'm particularly bummed about this because it seems that the U-mound has been seeing a resurgence of climbing lately. The folks we've met out there have been mostly young, enthusiastic, and psyched to try to figure out how to slap and scratch their way up technical granite. Also nice to see some new problems going up, particularly in the V7/8 range, which has not been well represented. If you see any suspicious behavior please post it here. I can't recommend confronting anyone but at least making it clear that you're watching could put the kabosh on delinquent acts and save a route from destruction.
Claude has posted a few on this site. Guess I'm not sure they're actually new problems, but I hadn't known about them before. I've also been seeing chalk on some holds that weren't chalked before in other places, such as on the southeast corner of the Brett and Jill boulders and on the north facing aspect of some of the clusters. Not a new mother lode of problems, and maybe I'm off on the grades of some things that aren't posted. Still, it seems like there's more stuff chalked recently than there's been, and some of it seems reasonably hard.
The U mound takes a beating again. This is another good reason to explore the other areas in the foothills. Far less likely to see this stuff at Simms, Fat City or the Gun. Those areas have better problems as well.
Dave, I think you're right about the recent additions not really being "new," since it'd be safe to say the vast majority of obvious lines have already been climbed. U-Mound is also full of contrivances, variations, traverse add-ons and what not, that there's always something "new" at least to me any way. I figure people might like to hear about the fun ones.
I think there are still some hard problems/variations that may/may not have not been done already, although most I'd classify as fun rather than must-do-classics.
Like Eric says, there's A TON of great stuff at other areas as well. Check them out if you haven't already.