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Routes in Checkerboard Wall

Checkmate T,S 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Circus Finish T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Cross-trainer T,S 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Green Thumb T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
King Me T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
Knight's Move T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Lone Piton T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Opening Moves T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Pawn's Promotion T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Punch In The Nose T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Queen's Gambit T 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
Red Squares T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Ring Leader T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Ring Route T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Sotol Roof T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Worth the Effort T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
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Type: Trad, Sport, 600 ft, 4 pitches
FA: Bolts: Jim Campbell
Page Views: 6,430 total · 42/month
Shared By: Aaron Hobson on Feb 27, 2006
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

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This multi-pitch sport route was designed for exposing beginners to the many facets of multi-pitch climbing. The entire route is bolted, but can also be led with traditional gear making it ideal for a sport climber breaking out into the realm of trad climbing. The climbing is fun and varied, a mixture of cracks, slab and face moves. Some may find bolts placed next to good trad placements distasteful. Don't climb it then, there are plenty of pure trad lines up the Checkerboard Wall.

Jokingly referred to as the "Overbolted," this route has a number of odd and poorly, very poorly, thought out belay stations as well as some useless bolts and other just plain whacked stuff. You may find yourself sitting below a pair of bolts just off the perfectly good ledge time and time again, but the climbing is good.


This route climbs roughly straight up the middle of the Checkerboard wall. Ii is the most popular route and the trail goes straight to it. To find the base of the climb look for a large cairn. The base of the route is in a bushy alcove just above it.


There are seven belay stations on this route, each with 2 bolts and rappel chains. The pitches can be profitably combined by skipping every other belay station making it a four pitch climb - two pitches to the Lunch Ledge and two above. The route meanders left and right so bring lots of runners to avoid rope-drag if you do this.

The entire route can be rappelled with a single rope, although it is faster to walk off or use double-rope rappels. Your first double rope rappel can take you to the Lunch Ledge, but this is not recommended. Stop at the bolts just above the Lunch Ledge, the ones you skipped when climbing. This is to avoid hanging up your rope. On the second rap skip Lunch Ledge and go to a pair of bolts just below it, also likely skipped on the way up. If you have a 70m rope, you can then rap all the way to the ground from here.

To walk off you will want your hiking shoes. Go east and stay north of the rocks all the way down to where they end. You will have to go back up some as you turn the east corner of the Checkerboard Wall. Walking is slower than rapping.
Aaron Hobson
Clinton, TN
Aaron Hobson   Clinton, TN
Jim Campbell is credited with equipping the route with bolts. He set it up as a good route to teach folks climbing skills. It certainly offers many opportunities to learn multi-pitch skills: rope-drag avoidance, gear management, route-finding. I thank him for his effort. Nov 17, 2006
Boulder, CO
boulderkeith   Boulder, CO
This route has some things to recommend it AND some things not to recommend it.

First the good:
- the rock quality is quite good
- the route was NOT a great gear lead so you won't be thinking, gee what do I need all these bolts for, I want to place cams
- the upper portion of the route is pretty darn fun
- the route has a nice mix of a bit of crack, some face climbing, and plenty of slab.
- most of the bolt placements are o.k. for protecting the climb.
- the approach from Pizza Boulders is good and the descent back down from the top to Pizza Boulders is also good. Don't rap the route. Don't leave stuff at the bottom. Carryover like a real man.

Next the bad:
- The route really is overbolted. I don't mean overbolted in that you can use cams because the gear placement just aren't amazing. It just has too many bolts. Doesn't make it less fun, just less aesthetic.
- Many of the anchor placements are just plain silly. Bolts below sweet ledges instead of above. Really silly. Might encourage a novice leader to belay above bolts instead of below (DANGEROUS). "educating" a new leader doesn't justify bad belay station placements.
- There are too many anchor stations. This is a distraction for the novice leader.
- Some of the lead bolt placements aren't very well thought out or don't provide the right protection for the 5.7 leader.

Finally the ugly:
- The anchors are new but setup old school. Long single chains. A chain link as a hanger.
- Worse, at least a couple of anchors take the chain angle between the bolts to an extreme. The final anchor has a 180 degree angle chain!!! DANGEROUS.
- Additionally, the quick links used to connect the chain to the hanger (when there is a hangar) are undersized, especially on the final anchor. DANGEROUS.

I applaude Jim Campbell for making the effort to create this route but hope he'll work on his anchor placement skills before his next project. Apr 1, 2007
Jerry Cagle
Tucson, AZ
Jerry Cagle   Tucson, AZ
FWIW: We did this in 3 pitches. The route isn't inherently bad, but this is hands-down THE most poorly conceived route I've seen in more than 20 years of climbing. What's with all the intermediate belay stations? The belay stations that are more appropriately spaced are in incredibly asinine locations (immediately below bivvy-grade ledges), the chains at the top of the route describe a 170 degree angle (ever heard of force multiplication?), and a number of the protection bolts are on top of bulges making them difficult to see from below. If this was done to make them less likely to pull out, it's fatally misguided. Bolts in properly drilled holes don't pull out. Shear forces are what cause bolts to fail and placing them in this configuration focuses the force in that direction. These aren't trade secrets... this information is readily available to anyone with a 3rd grade reading comprehension skill level who bothers to take the time to seek it out. It's irresponsible, at the very least, to create a POS like the job that was done on CT. I hope no one gets seriously hurt when this bomb blows up. The locals in LC should take his drill away and send him to his room with a good spanking. Oh yeah, and do something about those 60 mph winds while you're at it, would you.

Jim, your heart may be in the right place, but your head is somewhere else... Apr 30, 2007
Larry   SoAZ
This is a good route for training first ascensionists in how NOT to bolt.

Bolts serve not only as protection, but as way markers. So it's best not to place bolts on top of bulges where they can't be seen from below.

What's the excuse for anchor bolts without hangers (only chain held on with a wee washer and a nut)? There is a hanger on a useless, unused bolt on the should be moved to one of the lower anchors that are hangerless.

Finally, bolts should be placed at 90 degrees to the rock. Do NOT drill diagonally into the rock. May 8, 2007
Charles Cundiff  
Definitely take a few small cams to make your own belays. Especially at mid-cliff and for the last pitch. Oct 23, 2008
Las Cruces NM
Nsant   Las Cruces NM
Climbed this on 3/24/2010. Chain has been added to the 4th, 6th and final belay/rapel stations as well as hangers on the bolts where they were missing. The chains (rated) at the top now form a good angle. Mar 29, 2010
For those that don't like the bolts...I led this (almost) entirely on gear today, including gear anchors. I think I clipped only three bolts before the final pitch, then because it was getting cold, used the bolts to speed things up. I agree w/ Aaron, for someone wanting to break into trad, having the option is good for a learner. Jan 9, 2011
The only complaint I have about this route is the belay bolts being below the ledges instead of above them.

This is a perfect route for anyone's (leader or follower) first multipitch. It's safe (I felt), easy to bail off of, and you can see and easily communicate with the previous belay from almost every belay station. Jan 21, 2011
Forrest Wilcox
Las Cruces, NM
Forrest Wilcox   Las Cruces, NM
A really fun multi-pitch. I solo led to about halfway up the route and then went down for lunch. How hard is the fourth pitch on Cross-trainer if you do the 7 pitch route and don't combine pitches? Dec 27, 2011
Aaron Hobson
Clinton, TN
Aaron Hobson   Clinton, TN
I'd rate the "4th" pitch as 5.6. My own solo experience on this route was to get to that same part before hesitating and putting on a rope. There was one little steep section that I wasn't sure about doing rope-less, a few bolts before you get to the big ledge. The moves are actually pretty easy and secure, but meander a bit. The crux pitch (if you can even call it that) is the next one with a balancy 5.7 move right off the ledge. The last pitch may have some 5.6 on it as well and some exposure. Jan 28, 2012
Marta Reece
Las Cruces, NM
Marta Reece   Las Cruces, NM  
Many thanks to Pat Gioannini (climber pat) for spending his Christmas Eve doing the re-bolting this route so badly needed. Jan 14, 2014
Larry Earley
Los Alamos, NM
Larry Earley   Los Alamos, NM
New anchors excellent. Belays and raps easy and convenient. Climb is now a great one. Approach trail very good too. Driving directions right on. Rock quality very good. Only thing to fix next is the chains in middle ledge can go. Climb is not overbolted. Bring a rack with all sizes. Mark Zander from Los Alamos said he climbed here 45 years ago.

Jan 20, 2014
Jay Levy
El Paso, TX
Jay Levy   El Paso, TX
Climbed the route in two parties of two. Not too bad of an approach with a much easier walk back once we found the rock cairns. Restacked a bunch of them to ease the route finding for the next parties.

Rock quality was great with varied climbing to include slab, crack and face climbing. Only challenging part was the start off the main ledge midway up the face past the single chain.

We really enjoyed this climb and definitely look forward to getting back on this route again in the near future. A great intro to Las Cruces climbing.

Oct 11, 2016
Talon Parker
Elm City, NC
Talon Parker   Elm City, NC
Awesome climb and would love to do again. Holds were a lot smaller but since it’s not completely vertical it wasn’t too hard. Done in 4 pitches with a 70M rope. We topped out and hiked down. Third pitch is a little run out if you’re doing two belay stations a pitch. Pretty easy climbing though so not a big deal. Oct 21, 2018

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