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Areas in Rio Arriba County (Brazos, San Juans)

Brazos Cliffs 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Ghost Ranch 6 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 5 / 0 / 0 / 6
Elevation: 7,629 ft
GPS: 36.501, -106.48 Google Map · Climbing Map
Page Views: 13,578 total, 123/month
Shared By: George Perkins on Nov 9, 2008
Admins: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski
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The southern San Juans and Tusas Mtns. in Rio Arriba County in north-central New Mexico, provide a few unheralded obscure gems in New Mexican climbing. This area is just far enough away from most major population centers that it never get too crowded; historically this area has been the stomping grounds for Santa Fe and Los Alamos climbers.

For a long time, the Brazos Cliffs (New Mexico's biggest wall, exceeding 1500' in its highest section), were explored and the focal point of Los Alamos climbers. Los Alamos climbers have been epic-ing on these cliffs for years, as the LA Mountaineering Club had special access until recent years (as this group no longer has any sort of special access privileges). Nowadays, the Brazos Cliffs see much less traffic and remain truly wilderness adventure climbing.

In between these areas, the striking and scary looking sandstone spires of the Ghost Ranch area have been explored by Cam Burns and Mike Baker, at times using innovative aid climbing techniques. Many more spires of this nature no doubt remain to be climbed in this area and elsewhere in the region.

There is probably some ice climbing in the high country in the San Juans for those willing to hunt it down, but it's unlikely you'll find it publicly documented.

This region of New Mexico has a reputation for being rough, renegade, and scary. Many outsiders seem to be scared of interaction with locals, which may or not be not warranted.

Supplies Small markets can be found in El Rito, Abiquiu, and Chama. For a full supermarket, Espanola, Taos, Alamosa, or Pagosa Spgs are nearest, but the market in Chama is fairly good too.

Camping Nearly unlimited camping opportunities can be found on Carson National Forest Land. Be alert to not trespass on the Tierra Amarilla Land Grant area near the Brazos and to pay attention to other private property notices. A number of forest service/BLM campgrounds are around the area as well (none of them located really close to the crags).

Other activities The Rio Chama provides excellent rafting and fishing. Cliff jumping on one of the southern arms of Abiquiu Lake might seem like a good idea on hot days. Ghost Ranch is worth a visit.

Getting There

From Santa Fe, take US-84 north, passing through Espanola toward Abiquiu, and follow directions to the individual areas. From western Colorado, US-84 south out of Pagosa Spgs leads to the same area. From Alamosa, south on US-285, and various shortcuts reach the areas.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Rio Arriba County (Brazos, San Juans)

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Cat Burglar
Trad 14 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Cat Burglar Brazos Cliffs 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 14 pitches
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