Elevation: 7,164 ft
GPS: 35.744, -106.39 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 152,736 total · 921/month
Shared By: Monomaniac on Nov 28, 2006
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

Description

  • 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

  • Capulin Canyon - See the Getting There information on the Capulin Canyon page. 
  • Cochiti Mesa/Eagle Canyon-  Located in the southern Jemez Mountains, roughly between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. To get there, take I-25 to exit 259, and follow signs to Cochiti Pueblo. You will pass a large earthen dam on the right just before entering the town of Cochiti. Continue through the town for a couple of miles, past a golf course on the right. Just after the golf course a couple of gated roads will appear with no trespassing signs. Then you will come to Forest Road 289. Turn right here. Continue about 4 miles for Eagle Canyon, and 4.5 miles for Cochiti Mesa proper. This is a pretty rough dirt road, not recommended for passenger cars. However, I regularly see such cars drive on this road. Use your own judgment. You shouldn't need 4WD, but clearance is a must. Also, this road is unfortunately closed during the "winter". It usually closes some time in mid to late December and re-opens in April or May, depending on snowfall. It's possible to call the Sante Fe National Forest for status. Its possible to hike in when the gate is closed, but it's a long, uphill hike.
Eagle Canyon parking is easily identified by the sign marking the "Dome Wilderness Trail". Park here but follow a climber's trail that branches off left from the Dome Trail within 20 feet of the parking area. The trail heads West for about 50 feet, then turns right and contours along a steep slope for several hundred yards, before turning left (W) into the mouth of Eagle Canyon. Continue up the mouth of the canyon for 5 minutes until the cliffs are visible on the left. Several poorly-defined trails lead up to various points along the cliff-base.

For Cochiti Mesa, continue past the above described parking area, over a hill crest, and down a steep, rocky section of road. About 100 yards after the road starts going uphill again, there will be a 90-degree turn to the right. Park here. On the left side of the road a faint jeep trail climbs up through a grove of trees. Follow this track for about 100yds to the cliff's edge. A short downclimb (less than 6 feet) will get you to the cliff base. There are about 30 routes on either side of the downclimb.

Resources

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.

256 Total Climbs

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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.
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 23
Chimney Sweep
Trad
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 29
Zozobra
Trad
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
 26
Eternal Optimist
Trad
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
 13
Frisky Widow
Trad
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 12
The Trojan
Trad
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 8
Hellbender
Trad
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 9
Open Mouth Syndrome (OMS)
Sport
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 10
The Holy Grail
Trad
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 9
Buck Up
Trad 2 pitches
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 4
Capulin Classic
Trad
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
 6
Butterscotch Crack
Trad
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 17
Burning Man
Trad
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 6
Anklebiter
Trad
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 9
Tip of the Toe
Trad
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
 7
Futuristic
Trad
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Chimney Sweep Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 23
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Zozobra Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 29
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad
Eternal Optimist Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 26
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c Trad
Frisky Widow Capulin Canyon > Main Cliff
 13
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c Trad
The Trojan Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 12
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Trad
Hellbender Capulin Canyon > Main Cliff
 8
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Trad
Open Mouth Syndrome (OMS) Cochiti Mesa > N Cliffband
 9
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
The Holy Grail Capulin Canyon > Capulet Side Canyon
 10
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
Capulin Classic Capulin Canyon > Main Cliff
 4
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad
Butterscotch Crack Capulin Canyon > Ice Cream Parlor > Main Sector
 6
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Trad
Burning Man Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 17
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad
Anklebiter Capulin Canyon > Capulet Side Canyon
 6
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad
Tip of the Toe Capulin Canyon > Upper Wall
 9
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad
Futuristic Capulin Canyon > Capulet Side Canyon
 7
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b Trad
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