Elevation: 6,265 ft
GPS: 35.867, -106.202 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: George Perkins on Jan 29, 2008
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski
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The "Y" is a narrow portion of lower Los Alamos Canyon with 45' climbs on both sides and an intermittent stream flowing through it. It is one of the better choices for basalt climbing in Los Alamos/White Rock in the summer, because the canyon is relatively peaceful and cool, though the south-facing wall is in the sun most of the day. You can seek out sun or shade as you desire- but most of the climbs are on the north (south-facing) side. The "Y" is more novice-friendly than many other areas in White Rock, but still contains enough interesting routes for those of all abilities.

It's a popular toproping area, though many of the climbs can be led. You'll need to bring gear to set anchors on most climbs.

What's that smell? That peaceful stream is effluent from the waste-treatment plant for Los Alamos (the town, not the lab). This area occasionally flash-floods, also.

There are many petroglyphs in this area. Please don't climb on them or right next to them, and certainly don't damage them or do other dumb things. Access has been closed in too many other areas in the southwest US for climbing too close to petroglyphs. There's 300+ other climbs in White Rock.  Some people appreciate these cultural resources and hikers sometimes come in this canyon just to see the rock carvings.

Getting There

The "Y" is just south of NM 502, a little bit east of the intersection of NM 502 and NM 4 (where the road forks to go to White Rock or Los Alamos). From the junction of 502 and 4, get going eastbound, and park on the shoulder where the first guardrail on the south side comes to an end (if you drop down past a water tank, you've gone way too far). Hike south 1 minute to the clifftop. The downclimb is 3rd class and is found by heading west along the cliff's edge.

23 Total Climbs

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Location: Y, The Change
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Classic Climbing Routes at Y, The

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13
Trad, TR
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a X
The Nose
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Wisconsin Y - N Side
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13 Trad, TR
The Nose Y - N Side
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a X TR
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Bill Lawry
New Mexico
Bill Lawry   New Mexico
Marc Beverly's guide "Jemez Rock & Pecos Area" (2006) indicates that Bandelier National Monument prohibits bolting in this area. Mar 29, 2008
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
Pretty sure that Jemez Rock is inaccurate on who "owns" the Y, based on maps by LANL and elsewhere, but more importantly where the fences and signs are.

This is LANL/DOE government property, as indicated by signs on the fence next to the highway. Signs on trees 20' south of the South Rim say 'NPS boundary', so that is where the northern extent of Bandelier's Tsankawi district begins. It was discussed that this area might have been included in the LANL-San I land swap deal (which would've likely resulted in its closure), but it was ultimately not included in that deal.

Because it is DOE land and not Los Alamos County Open Space [like the rest of White Rock - except Potrillo and others near it (also DOE) and Sewer Crag - (San I Pueblo)], most likely nobody with authority has thought about any rules re: fixed gear, which is good.

In the White Rock bolting agreement , the Y is considered ok for installing bolts for anchors (because many of the trees are dead), and off-limits for installing new bolts on climbs.

The two climbs that had lead protection bolts at the Y do not have hangers. If you must lead them, bring your own hangers, and take 'em off when you're done, or someone else probably will. Mar 30, 2008
Chris Wenker
Santa Fe
Chris Wenker   Santa Fe
I can't remember where I saw this, but a while ago I read somewhere that the canyon in which the "Y" climbs are located is on land administered by the New Mexico Department of Transportation. When I read that, I went so far as to check that out on the maps at the Santa Fe county assessor's office. If I recall correctly, their GIS maps supported that DOT land status, I think as far south as the southern canyon wall. Although, having worked at the county myself, I wouldn't put 100% confidence in their GIS land parcel boundaries (they're not meant to be pinpoint accurate anyway). If the Y is indeed DOT land, I don't know what that might mean as far as access; also, I'm not entirely clear if it was DOT land or just a DOT easement.
I'll try to find where I originally saw that information. Anyone? Maybe in an old archived LAM google discussion forum?

Edit Update: Here it is: Jackson's 2006 Falcon guide book, page 191. "Management of The Y is by the New Mexico Highway Department."

Edited edit: Others 'in the know' have now told me that there is actually a strip of DOE land between the highway ROW land and the boundary of Bandelier land, so Jackson is probably wrong (as is the county's map). George's comment above is actually probably more accurate regarding the land status of the crag. Mar 31, 2008