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Areas in Utopian Vistas

(A1) Utopian Vista Upper Tier 20 / 21 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 35
(A2) White Riot Wall Upper Tier 7 / 6 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 11
(L1) John Nichol's Wall 5 / 12 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 15
(L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall 5 / 8 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 11
(L3) El Grito Del Norte Wall 2 / 9 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 9
(L4) Dammit Samet Wall 1 / 6 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 7
(L5) Good Craic Wall 7 / 9 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 14
(L6) Mud Palace Wall 4 / 8 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 11
(L7) Where the Bobbalo Roam 2 / 7 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 9
Cairned Crag 3 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
Panorama Wall 14 / 3 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 17

Description and Geology

A nice collection of quality climbing on iron hard pocketed basalt. There is something here for everybody and a few more to come. From vertical to overhanging jug-hauls, to technical corners, powerful roofs and thin fingers. Mostly sport, some mixed and a few classic trad pieces in sound, clean stone. Set above the "Rock Garden" of the Rio Grande Box, this area is surrounded by climbing areas, rafting, fishing, camping, and mountainbiking all about 20 miles from the town of Taos. Expect solitude, which means low traffic and no chalk marks.

Celebrating the spirit of escapism, independence and defiance many of these route names honor the visionaries, artists, authors and crazies that saw a Utopia in Northern New Mexico's Vistas.

These are new routes and they might still give up a hold or two so a helmet is recommended. Yearly freeze thaw can be severe on New Mexico's basalt, climb with caution.


The geology of the Rio Grande Box is largely volcanic. Olivine tholeiite basalt forms the three main layers of the Servilleta Basalt. The middle basalt unit is separated from the upper and lower tiers by layers of sediment forming the benches. These horizontal basalt layers of dark-gray, pahoehoe (ropey), vesicular (air pocketed) lava compose the main climbing walls in the gorge (Vista Verde, Utopian Vistas, Dead Cholla, John Dunn area, Horse Thief, etc.). The rock we climb in the upper Box area of the Wild and Scenic is more dense, can be red to light brown and was not from the lateral Servilleta flow. These remnants of volcanic plugs are more appropriately termed dacite, and it may contain crystal inclusions known as phenocrysts. The middle box or La Junta section has several examples of swirled volcanic rock from old low relief dacite volcanos. Miners' crag is a nice example. The wall across from Miners' is also a remnant.

Star ratings are relative to this area.

Getting There

See Dead Cholla under Taos Area or click the Aerial Photo link above for driving instructions to Dead Cholla parking area.

From the Dead Cholla (trailhead for the West Rim Trail) parking, it's about 15 minutes along the West Rim Trail to the wash on the rim -- if you continue past there to where the power lines cross the gorge, you've gone too far (maybe half again too far).

If you time the walk -- at 6 minutes from the car, the trail makes its first significant bend east toward the rim before bending back north; there is a second one of these at 9 minutes. When you hit the third such bend at 15 minutes, you are there -- look for a pullout on the right just as you come over a rise (the rim of the wash).

Drop southerly (right) along the wash to the rim, and follow cairns left (north) along the base of the Upper Tier, then, as Bob says, pretty much straight downhill from Black Mamba, the pretty black-streaked corner. The trail goes down past the juniper and deposits you at the south end of the lower cliff.

Alternative approach:
The approach from the Carson Rd/West Rim Road intersection is faster and flatter. Park in the pullout just north of the intersection (off the West Rim Road). Walk something like 15 paces south from the telephone pole and you'll see the old two-track leading off to the east. Follow this due east for 1/2 mile. It joins the West Rim Trail, turn left, and keep walking 100 yd east to a flat pullout with a cairn. The UV trail leaves here, heading south along the rim for 100 yd before dropping in.

143 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Utopian Vistas

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Tijerina
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Easy Rider Crack
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Klein's Corner
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Forever Jung
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Nirvana Blues
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Wizard of Loneliness
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Chomping at the Bit
Sport
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
Stimulus Package
Sport
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Utopian Vistas (var.)
Sport
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Obamanos!
Sport
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
El Grito del Norte
Trad, Sport
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Modest Mouse
Trad
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Milagro Beanfield War
Sport
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Hopper's Hangover
Sport
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
Black Mamba
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Tijerina (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Easy Rider Crack (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Klein's Corner (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Forever Jung (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Nirvana Blues (L1) John Nichol's Wall 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Wizard of Loneliness (L1) John Nichol's Wall 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Chomping at the Bit (L5) Good Craic Wall 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Stimulus Package (L1) John Nichol's Wall 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Utopian Vistas (var.) (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Sport
Obamanos! (L1) John Nichol's Wall 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Sport
El Grito del Norte (L3) El Grito Del Norte Wall 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Trad, Sport
Modest Mouse (A1) Utopian Vista Upper Tier 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Trad
Milagro Beanfield War (L1) John Nichol's Wall 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Sport
Hopper's Hangover (L2) Hopper's Hangover Wall 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Black Mamba (A1) Utopian Vista Upper Tier 5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport
More Classic Climbs in Utopian Vistas »

Weather Averages

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Prime Climbing Season
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Bowe Ellis
Taos, NM
Bowe Ellis   Taos, NM
I returned to UV today and have to say that this area really is fantastic. The rock is superb in most places, generally the great varnished reddish basalt similar to Dead Cholla, but with more holds. Mike and Bob did us a great service to put this crag up, all 130+ routes! Some routes are the best sport routes in Taos.

The approach from the Carson Rd/West Rim Road intersection is faster and flatter. Park in the pullout just north of the intersection (off the West Rim Road). Walk something like 15 paces south from the telephone pole and you'll see the old two-track leading off to the east. Follow this due east for 1/2 mile. It joins the West Rim Trail, turn left, and keep walking 100 yd east to a flat pullout with a cairn. The UV trail leaves here, heading south along the rim for 100 yd before dropping in. May 18, 2014
Mick S
Utah
Mick S   Utah
Not much traffic on these routes I assume, there is still a fair bit of loose rock, bring a helmet. Oct 11, 2010
Mike Howard    
Great to hear. We have been extending the area to the North and put up some great (IMO) climbs on the next shorter (50-60 ft) wall. Yeah, that numbering thing can be a PIA, particularly if you keep adding routes in between. But, the rock does climb well, certainly has that outdoor gym feel. And the location is classic New Mexico. Although it's not 15 minutes out the back door I think you'll agree it might warrant the carbon. Thanks for all the comments/help. Bueno, Mike Dec 8, 2008
Jfoley  
Not true Mike! This area was very much Mike and Bob's vision and hard work. I was handed a route or two on a silver platter. Matt, glad to see you've been back in the 505/575. Let's hook up soon. May 18, 2008
Mike Howard    
Much better directions Matt, and thanks for the "Viva!", we were pretty inspired by the locale and Taos history as well. Can I quote you in the directions? Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Bob and Jay should take the credit for the vision, I just drill holes where they point. Joel Tinl and Thor Husted were also fruitful out there and there is some more to do. Ask Jay about some of the other things he has been working on. Bueno-bye, Mike May 17, 2008
carlos
Taos, NM
carlos   Taos, NM
Great work...can't wait till it cools down again so I can enjoy these crags some more. Thanks again! Jul 14, 2007
carlos
Taos, NM
carlos   Taos, NM
Thanks again, Bob. If you need any help with any of this development, I would be more than happy to help. Otherwise can't wait to climb it when it's complete. Apr 21, 2007
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
Fair enough, Bob, thanks! R. Rumsey said he heard from you recently and you mentioned the potential here. Nice work! Looking forward to it.... Apr 3, 2007
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
Oooh! We can't wait for the TBA! Looks like a great basalt area. How long you gonna keep us waiting... :-) Apr 1, 2007

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