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What to do in NM (9/8-9/13) Climbing and other fun stuff

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Dan Daugherty · · Virginia Beach, VA · Joined Aug 2018 · Points: 5

My wife and I are heading to NM next week to see if it's a place we'd like to move to next spring. We have friends in ABQ and Santa Fe and are willing to drive to explore the rest of the area.  We like to hike, climb, wheel, explore and eat good food. My biggest issue climbing right now is that my wife is still too scared to belay me on lead so everything we do has to be top rope. And being that we're flying in from Virginia Beach, I don't want to carry a static rope for natural anchors so I've even more constrained by needing to find stuff with bolted anchors accessible from the top. PITA. I'm a moderate sport climber at best and was on-sighting 10d's at Owens River Gorge and Red Rocks, NV earlier this year. When we live closer to real rock, I'll start doing trad. She will likely top out at 9/9+ but be comfortable 6-8 range. I'd like to find places where we can get a bunch of pitches under her belt to build confidence in climbing and then she will likely get past the gym induced fear of belaying a lead partner.
If anyone has any suggestions of areas we should check out, wants to meetup somewhere during the week or knows of a competent guide service, I'm all ears.

We will fly in Saturday, drive up to Santa Fe Sunday and explore there through Monday and have till Thursday afternoon to do whatever. We need to be back for a chef's table thing in ABQ Thursday evening so we have a good chunk of time to mess around. Any ideas for climbing or non climbing stuff while we're there would be awesome.

B W · · Santa Fe, NM · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 2

For non-climbing, I recommend driving out to the Jemez Mtns, stopping at Bandelier National Monument to check out the cliff dwellings, then on to the Valles Caldera to view elk herds, then on to Las Conchas canyon for a nice hike along a mountain stream...if you like to fish, the stream is good for trout. You can also climb in Las Conchas, but I don't think there are many top ropes that set up easy without leading. White Rock is great for climbing and may be easier to set up toproping in some instances, but not a lot in the lower ranges of difficulty.

Taos, of course, is always a fun day trip, as well. You can take the low road one way which runs along the Rio Grande where you can watch rafts and kayaks cruising "the racecourse" near Pilar, or take the high road which runs through some beautiful national forest and cool little mountain towns. There is also climbing in the Rio Grande canyon near Pilar, but I don't think top roping would be easy without leading.

Edited to add: Forgot to mention that there are tons of great hikes near Santa Fe, as well, especially in the Pecos Wilderness just outside of town.

Richard R · · Oakland · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0

Never climbed much in NM, but the hikes out of the ski basin (Deception peak, lake peak, santa fe baldy) are all lovely. If you're thinking about living there, the Santa Fe farmer's market might sell you :) . Meow Wolf is a crazy artsy/cultural experience, google it and see if you're into that kind of thing. There is a mind bending amount of awesome "new mexican" food, which is very distinct from normal mexican food. Parasol is a great NM-specific fast food chain, Bumblebee's is also good for a quick bite, Pasqual's is a really nice fancier sit-down place in SF. The SF climbing gym is small but friendly and has generated a few ridiculous climbers. Find some excuses to watch the sunset over the Rio Grande valley, and don't forget to look at the stars!

James Lee · · Mobile, AL · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 35

My daughter is thinking about going to UNM next year, and we have been visiting. I have spent a little time looking at the climbing, and I don't think you are going to find a crag that offers a full day of what you looking for (we are learning trad, and are moderate sport climbers). Instead you might find a few routes, at several different crags. We typically will move around, hiking, camping, and if we can get one or two good routes in, per day, at multiple crags, we consider it a success. Beyond the Taos, Santa Fe area, you have a life time of adventure available just a few hours away, in southern CO. and the 4corners area. Last trip we spent a bunch of time in the San Luis Valley, Crestone, Rio Grande NF, Del Norte area. This Christmas we are going back SE UT/Moab. Specific to NM, we plan to visit Chaco Canyon, check out the ruins, and stay a night at the campground. I have wanted to visit Chama and Cuba, NM. I am told the Carson NF is a vast wilderness, seeing relatively few visitors....just you and the lions.

My teenage daughter has been catching me since she was 15, she is half my bodyweight, and we use ground anchors for her. She was nervous until she caught me few times; now it is no biggie. Find an AMGA guide; we learned from one. A little professional supervision might help your wife build confidence. Be aware, many guides are reluctant to let strangers lead, for fear of injuries. Be specific about what you are looking to get out of the day from your guide.

Brian Wirtz · · Sierra Foothills · Joined Apr 2019 · Points: 5

I grew up in NM, and was just back there with my son.  The Overlook in White Rock has a number of single-pitch climbs with anchors on top in your climbing range that are good for top-roping. The rock is basalt, and the area has a combination of crack and pocketed faces.  It'd be good for one day of fun.  Search Mtn Project for the area and routes.  PM me if you want more info on other fun stuff to do.  Have fun!

CD Transporter · · Boise, ID · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 0

Setting aside climbing and other outdoor activities, I do not recommend moving to Albuquerque. I have lived there and would not move back. Check the crime rates, walk down Central Ave at night (or don't!), etc. There are other western cities to choose from, with good climbing and less problems.

I don't have as much experience with Santa Fe, but keep in mind the winters will be colder than you are used to in VA. That could be a positive or a negative, depending on how much you like winter sports.

NM is nice to visit though.

Bill Czajkowski · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 30

Las Conchas has some easier top ropes right out front and just as you start walking down the creek are a few easy routes that you could TR after leading.

Depending on what area you live in Albuquerque can vary widely as with most cities. My biggest issue with it has been the school system. Now that my kids are out of school I enjoy it much more.  
Climbing and skiing are pretty easy access though the ski season is a little short, weather is decent but just a little on the hot side for me though way better than the humidity of the east, city is easy to get around, airport is simple though limited flights. The existing climbing gym is pretty nice and they are putting in another late this year (last I heard). But it is a little Wild Westy.

I get the impression Santa Fe is a little more mellow but also more expensive.

Definitely check out the Caldera (which is very close to Las Conchas); it is quite beautiful. A bunch of wineries up toward Taos. Albuquerque has a bunch of micro-breweries too and some of them draw some pretty good food trucks. Lots of concerts at the casinos during the summer, check Isleta, Buffalo Thunder, Sandia casino, and there are some other places that rundom one-offs show up. There are a few white water rafting companies up near Taos. Los Alamos hosts a nuclear museum as does Albuquerque. Ojo Caliente is a nice hot springs (commercial) just off the middle of nowhere, not too far from Taos. You can drive by the "Earthship" houses between the two places.

Dan Daugherty · · Virginia Beach, VA · Joined Aug 2018 · Points: 5

Thanks everyone. We ended up hiring a guide for Monday. He says he’s happy to work with my wife and let me lead a bunch of moderates.

She’s scared because of the gym idiots who made things overly complicated. She took a nasty fall on our practice/lead test wall when she fell into a chicken head the route setter thought was a good idea to put right in the fall zone for tests. She’s scared to lead now and they keep telling her she has to test belay and climb at the same time.

We lived in northern Utah for two years. Cold winters don’t bother us at all.

We won’t live in Albuquerque proper. We’re looking to find property with a couple acres and I’m not moving from one city to another. This is meant to slow us down a little and give us access to mountain sports, not more concrete and traffic. The only real physical restrictions are we have friends in Belen and need a decent school for our 4yo. Still trying to get an answer on how far away from Belen we can really move as well but need to see all options to make a good decision.

Leanne Duffy · · Los Alamos, NM · Joined May 2019 · Points: 0

Around White Rock, you can easily set topropes from the bolted anchors at the top at Potrillo Cliffs, Tortilla Flats, and Overlook:

If you want to check them out, feel free to PM me for any more info - I TR around there a lot.

Dan Daugherty · · Virginia Beach, VA · Joined Aug 2018 · Points: 5

So our guided trip was wildly successful. Jay not only helped my wife get comfortable lead belaying with a reverso and grigri, he also had her cleaning anchors with very little input by the end!

Jason Halladay · · Los Alamos, NM · Joined Oct 2005 · Points: 12,587
Dan Daugherty wrote: So our guided trip was wildly successful. Jay not only helped my wife get comfortable lead belaying with a reverso and grigri, he also had her cleaning anchors with very little input by the end!

Fantastic! Jay is a top notch dude. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Arizona & New Mexico
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