Type: Trad, 250 ft, 3 pitches, Grade II
FA: Embick & Baltz, Spring 1977, FFA Baltz & Horak, July 1977
Page Views: 1,599 total · 14/month
Shared By: David Baltz on Nov 9, 2009
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

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Access Issue: Permit Required For Climbing in El Malpais National Monument Details


(1) Begin on the face to the right of the crack and traverse into the dihedral at the 6-ft level (5.12-). Once established in the dihedral, have the rack & rope thrown up to you. Sustained climbing leads up a hand crack to an alcove below a roof (5.10b). Belay off a 5" cam or tube chock. (2) Stem and jam out the roof and make hard moves to gain the dihedral above (5.10c) then continue up the moderate but large crack to the back of a cave and an uncomfortable belay below a huge roof. (3) Traverse left under the roof on a narrow ledge to the lip, then climb an unprotected dihedral (5.10c) to a point where a move right leads to jugs and the summit.

Pitches two and three can be combined if you're feeling fresh and don't mind a bit (a lot?) of rope drag on the crux.

Descent: walk off.


You can't miss this one. Only fifty feet from the road, the prominent dihedral faces north and is capped by a huge roof. This climb is 3.9 miles south of the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook turnoff. Park down the road a bit to avoid gawkers.


P1: Well protected with 0.5 to 5" cams or hexes and tubes.
P2: 2 sets of 2" to 4" cams, singles of 5 and 6.
P3: Small cams again with mid-range stoppers for upper headwall.


William Penner
The 505
William Penner   The 505

Thanks for posting up the Malpais climbing. We used to boulder in the picnic area on the south end where the Dakota caprock dips to ground level and provides some fairly decent rock climbing.

Is the crux on Heraclitus actually just a low traverse into the crack? I have always looked at this line and wanted to try it (once the Zuni sandstone gets a little harder and more reliable).

W Nov 10, 2009
David Baltz
Albuquerque, New Mexico
David Baltz   Albuquerque, New Mexico
Yes, the crux of Heraclitus is a boulder problem off the ground. I'd call it V4/5 and spent months working it before finally figuring it out. The moves above the lip of the big roof are probably 10+ and poorly protected for about 15 ft. Embick aided them--Horak freed it.

I hope to add a lot of additional routes and photos over the next few months. Nov 10, 2009
Matthias Lang
Matthias Lang   Albuquerque
I drove by this crack today. Looks amazing. The Jackson guide talks about a 3-drilled-angle belay after traversing the big roof, which make a rap after the second pitch possible. Can anyone tell me if this anchor is still there and if, what condition it is in?
ML Jul 17, 2011
David Baltz
Albuquerque, New Mexico
David Baltz   Albuquerque, New Mexico
I don't remember any drilled anchors on this route. What pins Andy Embick fixed on the FA fell out years ago. Sep 24, 2017