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Utopian Vistas

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(A1) Utopian Vista Upper Tier 
(A2) White Riot Wall Upper Tier 
(L1) John Nichol's Wall 
(L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall 
(L3) El Grito Del Norte Wall 
(L4) Dammit Samet Wall 
(L5) Good Craic Wall 
(L6) Mud Palace Wall 
(L7) Where the Bobbalo Roam 
Cairned Crag 
Panorama Wall 

Utopian Vistas Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 6,300'
Location: 36.3671, -105.7276 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 23,409
Administrators: Mike Howard, Aaron Hobson, Anthony Stout, LeeAB, Marta Reece, Jason Halladay, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Mike Howard on Oct 12, 2009  with updates from Jack Lynch
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The beautifully scenic Utopian Vistas

Description and Geology 

A nice collection of quality climbing on iron hard pocketed basalt. There is something here for everybody and a few more to come. From vertical to overhanging jug-hauls, to technical corners, powerful roofs and thin fingers. Mostly sport, some mixed and a few classic trad pieces in sound, clean stone. Set above the "Rock Garden" of the Rio Grande Box, this area is surrounded by climbing areas, rafting, fishing, camping, and mountainbiking all about 20 miles from the town of Taos. Expect solitude, which means low traffic and no chalk marks.

Celebrating the spirit of escapism, independence and defiance many of these route names honor the visionaries, artists, authors and crazies that saw a Utopia in Northern New Mexico's Vistas.

These are new routes and they might still give up a hold or two so a helmet is recommended. Yearly freeze thaw can be severe on New Mexico's basalt, climb with caution.

The geology of the Rio Grande Box is largely volcanic. Olivine tholeiite basalt forms the three main layers of the Servilleta Basalt. The middle basalt unit is separated from the upper and lower tiers by layers of sediment forming the benches. These horizontal basalt layers of dark-gray, pahoehoe (ropey), vesicular (air pocketed) lava compose the main climbing walls in the gorge (Vista Verde, Utopian Vistas, Dead Cholla, John Dunn area, Horse Thief, etc.). The rock we climb in the upper Box area of the Wild and Scenic is more dense, can be red to light brown and was not from the lateral Servilleta flow. These remnants of volcanic plugs are more appropriately termed dacite, and it may contain crystal inclusions known as phenocrysts. The middle box or La Junta section has several examples of swirled volcanic rock from old low relief dacite volcanos. Miners' crag is a nice example. The wall across from Miners' is also a remnant.

Star ratings are relative to this area.

Getting There 

See Dead Cholla under Taos Area or click the Aerial Photo link above for driving instructions to Dead Cholla parking area.
From the well signed Dead Cholla parking area...head up river (North) along the edge of the cliff band.

From the Dead Cholla (trailhead for the West Rim Trail) parking, it's about 15 minutes along the West Rim Trail to the wash on the rim -- if you continue past there to where the power lines cross the gorge, you've gone too far (maybe half again too far).

If you time the walk -- at 6 minutes from the car, the trail makes its first significant bend east toward the rim before bending back north; there is a second one of these at 9 minutes. When you hit the third such bend at 15 minutes, you are there -- look for a pullout on the right just as you come over a rise (the rim of the wash).

Drop southerly (right) along the wash to the rim, and follow cairns left (north) along the base of the Upper Tier, then, as Bob says, pretty much straight downhill from Black Mamba, the pretty black-streaked corner. The trail goes down past the juniper and deposits you at the south end of the lower cliff."

Climbing Season

Weather station 9.2 miles from here

141 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',54],['2 Stars',50],['1 Star',31],['Bomb',2]

Classic Climbing Routes in Utopian Vistas

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Utopian Vistas:
Tijerina   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Klein's Corner   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 80'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Forever Jung   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Easy Rider Crack   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
On the Mesa   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Sport, 55'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
LSD   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, 50'   (A1) Utopian Vista Upper Ti...
Nirvana Blues   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 70'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
Chomping at the Bit   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 70'   (L5) Good Craic Wall
Wizard of Loneliness   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 70'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
Stimulus Package   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 55'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
Utopian Vistas (var.)   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 80'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Obamanos!   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
El Grito del Norte   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, Sport, 85'   (L3) El Grito Del Norte Wa...
Modest Mouse   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, 50'   (A1) Utopian Vista Upper Ti...
Milagro Beanfield War   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   (L1) John Nichol's Wall
Hopper's Hangover   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 80'   (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Black Mamba   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 50'   (A1) Utopian Vista Upper Ti...
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Utopian Vistas

Featured Route For Utopian Vistas
Rock Climbing Photo: Figuring out the moves to move out onto the arete....

Tijerina 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a  NM : Taos Area : ... : (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall
Climb left through large roof on pinned blocks and follow into shallow overhanging corner. Continue straight up the right side of the roof. Crux as you climb onto thin arete above corner. Athletic moves and nice exposure bring you to the anchor. Arise Alianza you have nothing to lose but your chains... Reies L√≥pez Tijerina led a struggle in the 1960s and 1970s to restore New Mexican land grants to the descendants of their Spanish colonial and Mexi...[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

Photos of Utopian Vistas Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Utopian vistas.
Utopian vistas.
Rock Climbing Photo: Taking in the view with Ron Olsen and Jack Roberts
Taking in the view with Ron Olsen and Jack Roberts
Rock Climbing Photo: View Looking West.  Shows relative locations and a...
BETA PHOTO: View Looking West. Shows relative locations and a...
Rock Climbing Photo: View from the rim at the parking spot above the cr...
BETA PHOTO: View from the rim at the parking spot above the cr...

Comments on Utopian Vistas Add Comment
Show which comments
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
Apr 1, 2007
Oooh! We can't wait for the TBA! Looks like a great basalt area. How long you gonna keep us waiting... :-)
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
Apr 3, 2007
Fair enough, Bob, thanks! R. Rumsey said he heard from you recently and you mentioned the potential here. Nice work! Looking forward to it....
By carlos
From: Taos, NM
Apr 21, 2007
Thanks again, Bob. If you need any help with any of this development, I would be more than happy to help. Otherwise can't wait to climb it when it's complete.
By carlos
From: Taos, NM
Jul 14, 2007
Great work...can't wait till it cools down again so I can enjoy these crags some more. Thanks again!
By Mike Howard
May 17, 2008
Much better directions Matt, and thanks for the "Viva!", we were pretty inspired by the locale and Taos history as well. Can I quote you in the directions? Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Bob and Jay should take the credit for the vision, I just drill holes where they point. Joel Tinl and Thor Husted were also fruitful out there and there is some more to do. Ask Jay about some of the other things he has been working on. Bueno-bye, Mike
By Jfoley
May 18, 2008
Not true Mike! This area was very much Mike and Bob's vision and hard work. I was handed a route or two on a silver platter. Matt, glad to see you've been back in the 505/575. Let's hook up soon.
By Mike Howard
Dec 8, 2008
Great to hear. We have been extending the area to the North and put up some great (IMO) climbs on the next shorter (50-60 ft) wall. Yeah, that numbering thing can be a PIA, particularly if you keep adding routes in between. But, the rock does climb well, certainly has that outdoor gym feel. And the location is classic New Mexico. Although it's not 15 minutes out the back door I think you'll agree it might warrant the carbon. Thanks for all the comments/help. Bueno, Mike
By Mick S
From: Colorado
Oct 11, 2010
Not much traffic on these routes I assume, there is still a fair bit of loose rock, bring a helmet.
By Bowe Ellis
From: Taos, NM
May 18, 2014
I returned to UV today and have to say that this area really is fantastic. The rock is superb in most places, generally the great varnished reddish basalt similar to Dead Cholla, but with more holds. Mike and Bob did us a great service to put this crag up, all 130+ routes! Some routes are the best sport routes in Taos.

The approach from the Carson Rd/West Rim Road intersection is faster and flatter. Park in the pullout just north of the intersection (off the West Rim Road). Walk something like 15 paces south from the telephone pole and you'll see the old two-track leading off to the east. Follow this due east for 1/2 mile. It joins the West Rim Trail, turn left, and keep walking 100 yd east to a flat pullout with a cairn. The UV trail leaves here, heading south along the rim for 100 yd before dropping in.

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