Capulin Canyon and Cochiti Mesa Area Crags Rock Climbing
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- 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.
- 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.
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.
Vista Point Overlook, Cacti Cliff, and Disease wall chapters can be found here
See also: "Rock Climbing: New Mexico" & "Jemez Rock" guidebooks.
Classic Climbing Routes at Capulin Canyon and Cochiti Mesa Area Crags
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