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Routes in Checkerboard Wall

Checkmate T,S 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Circus Finish T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Cross-trainer T,S 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Green Thumb T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
King Me T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
Knight's Move T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Lone Piton T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Opening Moves T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Pawn's Promotion T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Punch In The Nose T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Queen's Gambit T 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
Red Squares T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Ring Leader T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Ring Route T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Sotol Roof T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Worth the Effort T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Elevation: 5,481 ft
GPS: 32.458, -106.782 Google Map · Climbing Map
Page Views: 13,226 total, 92/month
Shared By: Aaron Hobson on Feb 26, 2006 with updates
Admins: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski
Getting weather forecast...


A huge east facing wall, over 500' at its highest point and almost twice as wide. There are many enticing crack systems which give the wall its checkered appearance. Several large boulders litter the valley below and offer many challenges of their own. You can follow one of the listed routes up this immense face, you can design your own variations connecting different crack systems, or simply choose a line and have at it.

Getting There

Zero your odometer where N Jornada Rd meets the Bataan Memorial Highway (Hwy 70). Drive north on Jornada for ~4.89 miles. Skip the dirt road on the left and drive another 0.07 miles and turn left. Drive less than a mile to the road's end. Along the way you'll pass beneath some power lines. This last part does not need four wheel drive but high clearance is required in a few spots.

A well-used climbers' trail heads north of the end of the road, and then snakes west / north to the base of the wall. It takes about 30 minutes of hiking.

The trail ends at the base of Cross-trainer. Minor bushwhacking or scrambling is needed for some of the other climbs.

Cross-trainer can be rapped after summiting. The walk-off down the south end of the wall is easy but long with a need to come back up and is not recommended.

16 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Checkerboard Wall

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Trad, Sport 4 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Pawn's Promotion
Trad 4 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Red Squares
Trad 3 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Knight's Move
Trad 4 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Lone Piton
Trad 3 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Punch In The Nose
Trad 4 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
King Me
Trad 5 pitches
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
Queen's Gambit
Trad 5 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Trad, Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Cross-trainer 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, Sport 4 pitches
Pawn's Promotion 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 4 pitches
Red Squares 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 3 pitches
Knight's Move 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 4 pitches
Lone Piton 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 3 pitches
Punch In The Nose 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 4 pitches
King Me 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13 Trad 5 pitches
Queen's Gambit 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c Trad 5 pitches
Checkmate 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Sport
More Classic Climbs in Checkerboard Wall »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
Drew Chojnowski
Las Cruces, NM
Drew Chojnowski   Las Cruces, NM  
Hi Ted.
Where *exactly* were you camping (photo would help), so that we can stay clear of that area? Fortunately, I think we can rule out the vicinity of Cross Trainer as a possible hive location, since it was climbed Tues. and Wed. of this week without major issues. I did get harassed by a few times on Tues. by individual bees, one of which I think must be an Africanized type. It was darker color and pretty aggressive. Apr 21, 2017
Ted Waruszewski
Albuquerque, NM
Ted Waruszewski   Albuquerque, NM
Hope I'm posting some relevant information for you all, and it is possible that some of the locals know about this: I saw some Africanized Honeybees,commonly known as killer bees, while camping in front of this wall about six days ago. My party accidentally left a half full bottle of water out without its cap off that attracted them. It also trapped them in it and that agitated the crap out of them. Within minutes we had 200-300 bees all around our camp site. We spend the afternoon in the camper and left when it was cool out. We are unaware as to where the nest is and it could be in any of those rocks. The bees are darker in color than a typical honeybee, almost grey in color. Bee carefull out there!
Apr 17, 2017
Taylor J
new mexico, new england
Taylor J   new mexico, new england
Climbing-wise it's a fun wall. Not too much sustained climbing for any of the grades and the beta here is pretty terrible. Pretty much just winging it while up there, but have fun with it. Mountain Project, the Falcon Guide, and some topos I found all say different things and different grades. Some climbs are over bolted like crazy and some of the anchors are in weird spots. Not that they don't work, but with some thought the placement could have been much better. Most can be lead on gear. Mar 25, 2013
The central portion of Checkerboard has been extensively climbed since the late 1960s. Refer to B (Wally's Folly or Green Thumb?) through D (Punch in the Nose) on the old Southwestern Mountaineers topo (… ). There were two climbs in the C portion of the topo. First was the face as shown and the second climbed the chimneys to the right (Miserable Chimneys, not to be confused with the original Miserable Chimneys on NRE below Pea Pod).

Most of the obvious weaknesses, even the unprotected sections, in a moderate range (5.8 and below) have been climbed. Usually one would climb two or three pitches and then belay on the larger "Lunch Ledge" portion of the face. Then one would choose a finish (Circus left, Standard center, Punch right). One might need to add a traverse pitch to position the belay under the chosen finish.

It would be useful if someone climbing in Cruces at present would add a photo and lines of climbs for this portion of Checkerboard. Jan 1, 2013
Aaron Hobson
Clinton, TN
Aaron Hobson   Clinton, TN  
Reed, do you remember which route this was? Dec 13, 2009
One of the better routes was named "Wally's Folly" after Wally Houseman who was happily belaying the leader on one of the ledges around 1970 when he realized there was a loud buzzing between his feet. He got struck on his boot heel by a a moderately large rattler. Fortunately, he was wearing heavy mountain boots which probably gave the snake a headache and bent fangs. He did a bit of dancing on the ledge but maintained his belay. Sep 16, 2009
Las Cruces
cuclimbing   Las Cruces
Once you get to the summit of Checkerboard, follow the saddle north to the next, higher summit. You can find a little Ginkgo Biloba bottle with a summit log in the rock pile. (I'll try to put a summit log by checkerboard next time I'm up.) There are also some awesome 100-200 ft pitches on the west side of the second summit, check it out it's worth the time. Mar 25, 2008
Aaron Hobson
Clinton, TN
Aaron Hobson   Clinton, TN  
I have given one of the "un-named" routes on this wall my own name, to make referenceing easier. There are many lines on the Checkerboard wall that are named "un-named" on topos that I have acquired. For the purposes of this site I have given names to routes after climbing them and posting information about them. If you know of other names I'd love to hear about them.

Also, the variations on Checkerboard criss-cross quite a bit. I'm trying to decide on the best way to capture this. For now, I'll just post stuff however it occurs to me, but this section can be reorganized fairly easily. I'm open to suggestions/comments/ideas. Feb 28, 2006

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