Type: Trad, TR, 55 ft
FA: Barlow?
Page Views: 3,088 total · 21/month
Shared By: Jason Halladay on Apr 3, 2007
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

You & This Route

40 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick


One of the finer routes at The Overlook. A nicely pocketed, sustained face route. It is a very popular top-rope and a proud gear lead because of the tricky gear placements in pockets. By longtime, documented agreement by local climbers do not bolt this face route.
The route gets its name from a Cholla cactus that used to be at the base of the route that pricked many climbers that came off the rock at the start. The cholla disappeared a few years ago.


The sweet, pocketed face with no bolts! Accessed by the easy scrambling on top of the Lower Buttress below the main wall. Shown as route number 10 on the Overlook route topo photo.


Small to medium cams (up to #1 camalot) and tri-cams for the pockets. Chain anchor at top.


Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
Omega Pacific link cams are great pro for this route and its flaring pockets. A purple LC goes in deep about 12 feet up. A solid green LC can be tweaked into a deep sideways-tear-drop shaped pocket halfway up. And a red LC goes decently well into a pocket on the left near the top. This protects the final, crux 6 feet very well. If you have tri-cams, those are reportedly very good on this route. I don't have any. Sep 27, 2007
This would be one of the best sport routes in New Mexico if it were bolted like the line to its right and left. Say, what happened to the cholla anyway? Nov 4, 2007
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
Sadly, the Cholla met it's demise a few years ago but I don't know how. For a few years before it disappeared, it looked more anemic each time I saw it. My guess is someone got pricked by it one last time, got angry and got rid of it.

As for the notion that it be bolted, that's certainly been mentioned and debated for years . For a long while, I thought it would be nice with bolts for pro but believe it would be "just another 5.10 face sport route" and really not super impressive. I've led it a number of times on gear and it protects well enough and sure makes for an exciting and proud lead. Nov 4, 2007
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
  5.10a PG13
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
  5.10a PG13
Not to be a sandbagger, because it's much harder to hang on to place gear in an onsight style; but enough of the pockets will take bomber gear if you suss out the placements first on TR or rappel to see what fits where (many of the pockets open up inside so it can be hard to tell which cam is the right size at first glance). 4 or 5 gear placements are pretty obvious. Once you have the pro figured out (or pre-placed), Cholla Wall can feel like a pretty reasonable lead, not too scary, and one you'll want to repeat next time you're at the Overlook.

Tri-cams are supposed to be really useful on this climb, though I never bring any.

Another note: If you start up, can't find gear in the pockets, and want to wimp out: it's likely possible to traverse left around the left arete, clip a bolt on Double Vision and bail off. (I haven't done this, but I thought about it.) Dec 12, 2008
Sky Sjue
Santa Fe
Sky Sjue   Santa Fe
George, you're a sandbagger. ;)

The route seems much more memorable to me as is than it would be as another bolted 5.10.

Cruised this on lead tonight with six Tri Cams for pro, all bomber: two sets up to blue will protect this route as well as any of the sport climbs, but the start is still committing. Oct 16, 2012
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
  5.10a PG13
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
  5.10a PG13
Though I think more people should be open-minded to leading Cholla Wall because it is pretty proud/memorable, I was definitely intimidated prior to doing so. Here's the warnings:
  • Don't fall at the start (1st crux). It's a boulder problem before you get your first pro.
  • Don't fall at the top (2nd crux). I've heard of 2 big falls from up there, and the gear in the highest pocket is tricky and perhaps not fully trustworthy.
  • Don't try to onsight Cholla Wall if 5.10 is hard for you, or if you're spooked by gear in pockets.
  • I would put it on the harder end of "5.10a/b". There's kind of a rest about half-way up, but it's really 50' of near-vertical sustained pocket/face climbing.
Have fun, but don't hurt yourself. Oct 17, 2012
patrick robinette
los alamos, NM
patrick robinette   los alamos, NM
George, I can attest to the gear up high being a bit tricky. My first lead on this route (months ago) I pulled a #2 up high and took a decent fall. I had the #2 unequally cammed in the pocket. However, a #2 can securely be placed up high (and equally cammed) with a bit of effort. After the fall, Cholla had my number with no more attempts...but my 2nd lead attempt (last week) was a memorable redpoint. Oct 19, 2012