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Routes in El Malpais

1096 T 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a
A Moment's Respite T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13
Breech Baby T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Crack of Heraclitus T 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R
Easy Come, Easy Go T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Icebreaker T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13
Mt. Cosmic Debris T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Mushroom, The T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
New Frontier T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Overdrive T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Rotten Peach T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
Screaming Yellow Yum-Yums T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Skull Cap T 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Strensuous Curve T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
Surfin' the Turf T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Sword of Cimmeria T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Trudy Buns T,S 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Unknown V2 V2+ 5+
Unknown V3 V3 6A
Unknown V5 V5 6C
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Type: Trad, 250 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Dahrling & Baltz, 1976
Page Views: 1,122 total · 10/month
Shared By: David Baltz on Nov 9, 2009
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

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(1) Climb a chimney for 40 feet to a ledge. Traverse left on the ledge and ascend the crack above (5.7)**. This crack is the left side of parallel chimney/cracks. When possible, move back right into the original crack and continue up turf to a belay at a small pine tree. (2) Scramble up and south over turf and boulders to the top of the buttress. (3) Move up through some steep orange caprock for an exposed finish (5.6).

  • ** Tarantula Variation
Instead of traversing left into the other crack, continue straight up (5.7+) until rejoining the standard route.

Descent: Move south 50 ft(?) and downclimb 15 feet to a ledge with a large tree. Two single rope rappels to the base.


Near the north end of the Narrows. Mile 9.2 from the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook turnoff. The route ascends a set of parallel chimney cracks diagonalling left to right behind a butress. Most easily seen travelling south. Look for a tall dead pine at the base.


Standard rack to 4" and slings.


Howard Snell
Belen, New Mexico
Howard Snell   Belen, New Mexico
With the 2011 fire closure of the Sandias, I've looked for multi-pitch traditional routes elsewhere, but close enough to Albuquerque. Made our first El Malpais climb on Surfin' the Turf yesterday. Had a great day. The route description here is perfect and the rating seems accurate. I'll admit that our sandstone crack & chimney skills were rusty, so we grovelled on two sections of the first pitch! I carried the first pitch a few meters beyond the small tree and built a gear anchor at a flat sandy ledge. Slung the tree a couple of feet up to provide a directional keeping the rope up out of the dirt.
We used a C4 #5 and #6 in some of the crack sections of P1. Probably not absolutely necessary gear, but provided some peace of mind while I grovelled.
We walked off towards the "La Ventana Arch" because the rappel route looked susceptible to rock fall - lots of loose stuff on the ledge around the trees. That's a long hot descent so working out the rappel might be better. All the slings we saw were old (weathered grey with lichens growing on them - might have been blue 1" originally), I'd replace them for rappel.
Route stays mostly shaded until 11:30 - 12:30. It was 103 in Alubuquerque the day we climbed yet our climb was fine - Just take some water and avoid the hike to La Ventana. Jun 25, 2011

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