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Elevation: 7,156 ft 2,181 m
GPS: 35.7438, -106.39038
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Shared By: Monomaniac on Nov 28, 2006
Admins: Jason Halladay, Mike Hoskins, Anna Brown

Description Suggest change

  • Capulin Canyon in the Dome Wilderness has true, Indian Creek-style crack climbing on cliffs up to 200 feet tall. The rock is a relatively high quality welded tuff that lends itself well to gear placements. The quality of the cracks themselves is what makes the climbing extraordinary. The climbing is on par in quality to what one finds in Indian Creek or around Moab. However, the Dome Wilderness cliffs will never achieve anything like the popularity of some of the Moab climbing areas because of the limited size of the cliff band, remoteness, and difficulty of approach, but at this time they offer a unique crack climbing experience in New Mexico. 
  • Cochiti Mesa was, for many years, one of New Mexico's premier sport climbing areas. However, after the Las Conchas fire of 2011, the area has become a scorched wasteland and much, if not all, of the climbing has been destroyed. The glaring exception to this is the amazing, Indian Creek-style crack climbing of Capulin Canyon. Capulin Canyon has seen an explosion in newly established crack routes from around 2010 to the present. Otherwise, the description below is considered historical now. It is sad to see the end of an era. See the MountainProject thread here for more information. -- JH, August 2013.

Cochiti Mesa is [was] one of the premier sport climbing destinations in New Mexico, though you would never know it by the crowds. At one time a destination crag for international climbing stars such as Lynn Hill and Todd Skinner, this once proud crag has drifted into total obscurity. The dramatic shift in popularity has more to do with a shift in climbing style than a lack of quality. Today's radsters want long overhanging jugfests, of which Cochiti has none. This is a crag for the '80s, an era dominated by climbers skilled on just-vertical walls. Highly polished technical skills and teflon tendons are the keys to success here.

However, if you're up for the challenge, Cochiti offers seasons worth of 4-star climbs in a beautiful setting, free from the tiresome "crag scenes" found at neighboring areas. Also, Cochiti Mesa proper is one of the few crags in the state where it is realistic and relatively safe to rig topropes for many of the climbs.

Eagle Canyon is in the shade nearly all day. Some climbs receive a bit of sun in the morning or late afternoon. This is theoretically a good summer crag, but you will probably want cool temps for any hard sending, in which case Fall/Spring is ideal. Cochiti Mesa faces west, and so receives shade until about noon. Best to do most of your climbing before the sun hits unless you can get in on a really cold day.

Getting There Suggest change

The Drive:

Capulin Canyon is in the Dome Wilderness in the Jemez Mountains. Approach from Los Alamos or Albuquerque via State Highway 4. Turn onto FS Road 289 (a.ka. Dome Road.) Take this to the Saint Peter's Dome road (signed). Drive until you can see the canyon on your left. Park at the very last tree on the road at the top of a small rise. The fire lookout should be easily visible to the south east.

NOTE: FS Road 289 is typically closed in winter, gated shut at its intersection with State Highway 4. The closure period fluctuates but is typically closed from January 1 to around April 15 (depending on snowpack.) Call the Jemez District ranger station (575)-829-3535 and ask them if the road, FR 289 (a.k.a. St. Peters' Dome Road) is open and when it will re-open.

Updated Sept. 2014. See the updated beta map. The marked Capulin Trail has not existed in the Wilderness since the Dome Fire in 1995. Therefore, the only access into the climbing areas is via a climber's trail.

Resources

Suggest change
The Los Alamos Mountaineers have, with permission from the authors, posted Matt Samet's and Randal Jett's excellent "Sportclimbing New Mexico" on their website. The chapters for Cochiti Mesa, Eagle Canyon, and Jimmy Cliff can be found here

Vista Point Overlook, Cacti Cliff, and Disease wall chapters can be found here

See also: "Rock Climbing: New Mexico" & "Jemez Rock" guidebooks.

301 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Capulin Canyon and Cochiti Mesa Area Crags Change
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Classic Climbing Routes at Capulin Canyon and Cochiti Mesa Area Crags

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 9
Bananarama
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 41
Zozobra
Trad
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 14
Goodbye Germany
Trad
5.11- 6c 22 VIII- 22 E3 5c
 34
Eternal Optimist
Trad
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 12
Juliet
Trad
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 19
The Trojan
Trad
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 19
Frisky Widow
Trad
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 9
Hellbender
Trad
5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 12
The Prow
Sport
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 10
Open Mouth Syndrome (OMS)
Sport
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 13
The Holy Grail
Trad
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 9
Buck Up
Trad 2 pitches
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 18
Burning Man
Trad
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 7
Anklebiter
Trad
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 12
Tip of the Toe
Trad
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Bananarama Eagle Canyon
 9
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Zozobra Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 41
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad
Goodbye Germany Capulin Canyon > Hinterlands
 14
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Trad
Eternal Optimist Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 34
5.11- 6c 22 VIII- 22 E3 5c Trad
Juliet Capulin Canyon > Capulet Side Canyon
 12
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Trad
The Trojan Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 19
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Trad
Frisky Widow Capulin Canyon > Main Cliff
 19
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Trad
Hellbender Capulin Canyon > Main Cliff
 9
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Trad
The Prow Cochiti Mesa > S Cliffband
 12
5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Open Mouth Syndrome (OMS) Cochiti Mesa > N Cliffband
 10
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
The Holy Grail Capulin Canyon > Capulet Side Canyon
 13
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad
Buck Up Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 9
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad 2 pitches
Burning Man Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 18
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad
Anklebiter Capulin Canyon > Capulet Side Canyon
 7
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad
Tip of the Toe Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 12
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad
More Classic Climbs in Capulin Canyon and Cochiti Mesa Area Crags »

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