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Local Climbing in the Farmington, NM area?

Original Post
Wade Campbell · · Gallup, NM · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 91

Hi - I recently moved to the Farmington area for work. I'm curious about the local climbing scene in Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield, and the surrounding (not Colorado) areas, particularly with regards to bouldering. I asked this question on Reddit over the summer to so-so success; one of the folks indicated that people climb in the Farmington Glade but didn't provide any more info. I know firsthand that a lot of the sandstone in the area is super chossy, but there's gotta be some decent pockets of stone that have been developed to a degree.
Any suggestions/comments/thoughts? 

Steve Tarnowski · · Aztec, NM · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 15

Hey Wade,

Welcome to the area. I've lived in Aztec for about two years so I'm not an expert, but AFAIK, there isn't really any outdoor climbing in Farmington / Aztec / Bloomfield bc the rock really is too soft. In the few days of exploring I did up near Cedar Hill, I did not find anything solid and it put me off spending any more time navigating the choss bands.

The local 'climbing scene' is centered around the rec wall at San Juan College - if you ask around there are people who climb / boulder a bit on the Rez near Shiprock. In particular the guy who sets from Bloomfield (can't remember his name right now) has been around a while and seemed like a friendly guy. Might have a bit more luck finding what you're looking for chatting people up over there.

Honestly I've had MUCH more fun paddling / rafting around here than climbing. The College has cheap rentals for kayaks and such if that's something you might be interested in come springtime. There are also good trails around here for mountain biking but that's not something I've gotten into.

Mark Dalen · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 952

Hey Wade - I grew up in Farmington & cut my teeth on the choss you describe ... quickly learned better & took it across the border into Durango, East Animas & X Rock ... is there a reason you rule this out? ... too bad, it's the best stone in a hundred mile radius ... Steve mentions poking around Cedar Hill & I can say some people (myself included) have thrown a rope on the sandstone above the Port of Entry, but that is really just a slightly higher grade of choss ... if someone mentioned the Glade maybe they were talking about a bouldering area I've heard about but not visited, I think it's called Red Speckled Flats ... if you're determined to keep in it NM then my advice is to like the FB page Dine (Navajo) Climbing & Outdoors ... I myself haven't climbed with these folks (I don't live very close anymore) but it seems like they're always putting together a trip somewhere, usually to Mentmore ...  

Wade Campbell · · Gallup, NM · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 91

Hi Steve, Mark - thanks both for the info. I've been stopping by the San Juan College gym periodically over the past few months I've been here. My interest in finding potential outdoor bouldering options in the Totah area (and avoiding Colorado) is purely a time/money sort of thing. While I definitely want to try stuff up in the Durango area, my schedule and budget make it hard to squeeze in a 2 hour RT drive and subsequent climbing session. Given that I only recently started climbing, simply getting reps seems the greater, more valuable priority and as I see it, that'd be easier to accomplish if there were some local outdoor bouldering options other than the SJC gym. I mean, I jogged out into the hills northeast of Bloomfield a couple of days ago and had a fun little session on the one good bullet hole-marked formation I found (it reminded me of Gallup!). That one ledge was the only climbable thing I found, but it was something...

I'll look into the FB group in the meantime, but this "Red Speckled Flats" reference you mention is interesting. I rechecked my Reddit post and the person said: "Local rock climbing, there is an area called Choke Cherry that's got some fun looking walls." Upon re-reading, that seems like someone simply noting the rook looked good, and not that they had firsthand knowledge of routes or suitability. Some basic internet sleuthing indicates that Chokecherry Canyon is mainly hit up by offroading folks...

Mark Dalen · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 952

Chokecherry Canyon is exactly where I used to set up topropes, bullet pocked sandstone that crumbles to the touch ... back then I had more guts than brains ... I want to tell you that you can find your pockets of good rock, it sure seems like it would be there given the sheer amounts of sandstone, but I never found it ... FWIW Chokecherry Canyon (aka the Glade) runs parallel to La Plata Canyon about 1 mile to the west, with a mesa in between ... this is on the NW edge of town ... you can bail off into Chokecherry from points on Pinon HIlls Blvd & 30th St ... as near as I can tell the bouldering area I mentioned (seems like I read about it once in some other online forum) lies on the La Plata side of that mesa, between the flood plain & the sandstone bluffs ... this is the area we used to call Red Speckled Flats ... not sure how to get to it anymore, but probably a north turn somewhere off Pinon Hills Blvd or an east turn off the La Plata Hwy (toward river, which is dry for much of the year) ... if I still lived there I might go exploring with you ... I still own property in Farmington but otherwise, living here in Albuquerque, I am minimally invested ... good luck! - Mark

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Arizona & New Mexico
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