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Cockscomb Crag

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Cockscomb Crag Rock Climbing 

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Administrators: Shirtless Mike, Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Anthony Stout on May 16, 2006
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BETA PHOTO: Cockscomb crag area overview. Courtesy of Rick Br...


An area off the beaten path, with closely grouped routes in two different sections. An excellent selection of moderate climbs (5.10-5.11) on beautiful basalt. Routes here have nice springer anchors, allowing the last climber to easily lower off by just clipping through the shuts. However, please avoid premature anchor wear by using quick draws until the last person climbs the route.

The crag gets afternoon shade in the summer time. Since sun hits it until noon, however, this area may be pretty warm in mid summer. Best time is probably March through May and September through November. Not a winter crag, as little sun hits the rock from December to February.

Getting There 

The Cockscomb Crag area about a mile down the main arroyo from Diablo Canyon. The name comes from the basalt pillars at the far right end of the crag, which resemble the top of a roosters head There are two ways to get to there:

1) Best Approach: "drive past the normal Diablo turnoff and continue around the Sun Devil Mesa and on toward the Rio Grande. After you pass a pump station just off the road on your left, continue about 0.3 miles to the first crossroad that goes in both directions. Turn left, follow the road to another pump station (~100 yards), and park on the CCC side of the station. Walk down into the arroyo that runs behind the station and follow it (under or over the barbed wire fence) toward the main Diablo arroyo (the fence marks entry into National Forest from BLM land). Cross the main arroyo to a prominent wash on the other side. The trail starts up this wash then veers right onto a well worn and cairned trail all the way to the crag. Car to crag will take 20 to 45 minutes, depending on if you are superhuman or more normal(R. Bradshaw)."

2) (Not recommended, will take a lot longer than #1): From the main Diablo climbing area (the one where you see the large, looming sundevil wall), hike the main wash through the sand for about 1.5 miles. Eventually you will see the cockscomb crag high up and to your left. Look for the trail from the river bottom that heads up to the crag.

Climbing Season

Weather station 6.9 miles from here

30 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',13],['2 Stars',14],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Cockscomb Crag

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Cockscomb Crag:
The Egg   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Chicken Little Area
The Chicken   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Chicken Little Area
Chicken Out   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 55'   Poultrygeist Area
Cock -a-doodle-do   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport   Poultrygeist Area
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Cockscomb Crag

Featured Route For Cockscomb Crag
Rock Climbing Photo: Phone booth is middle bottom of picture. Line foll...

Chicks with Ricks 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b  New Mexico : Santa Fe Area : ... : Poultrygeist Area
Start in the boxy "phone booth" looking formation on the rock. Fun stemming leads you to underneath a bulgy overhang. Pull through the jugs, clip a welcome bolt, and gain a nice stance before continuing up the arete. A few cruxy, thoughtful moves lead to some jugs and an interesting finish....[more]   Browse More Classics in New Mexico

Comments on Cockscomb Crag Add Comment
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By Monomaniac
From: Morrison, CO
Dec 6, 2006
This is an excellent crag. It seems the rock here is much better that most of the rock at Diablo (except for the 'upper tier' routes). The ultra-convenient lowering anchors are also a huge plus. The hike isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. Its a bit long, but its not very steep by climber's trail standards. If only the routes were twice as long!
By Monomaniac
From: Morrison, CO
May 24, 2007
When I was here in mid-May the crag was in the sun until a bit after noon. It was blazing hot until the shade arrived. There are a few routes that get shade before the main cliff gets shade, but not enough to keep you occupied. I would plan to arrive here around 11:30 am in the summer.
By Robin
From: Albuquerque, NM
May 27, 2008
I would like to express my thanks to everyone who was involved with putting up these routes. The clippy hangers are suuuuuuper sweet and all the bolting seems to be well thought out.

By Dave Wachter
Sep 13, 2009
When approaching the crag from the lower (pump house) parking, head down to the floor of the main Diablo canyon wash. Turn right down the wash (toward the Rio Grande), and go approximately 1/8 mile. You'll see the left bank rise up in small mud cliffs ahead, with a few small rubbly washes dumping in. Just before the mud cliffs, look for 2 medium-sized cottonwood trees growing on the left bank (coxcomb side), with branches reaching over the wash, nearly touching the sand. Continue past these about 70 meters, and then climb up the last little steep/jumbly wash, just before the mud cliffs form a serious wall and redirect the main wash to the right. At first, it'll seem unlikely, but after scrambling 20-30 feet, you'll find yourself on a good trail that will lead you all the way to the crag.
Note: Beverly's book shows the trail going up a ramp to the left of a washed-out area. The trail we took stayed just to the right of the washout.
We did not find a cairn marking the start of the trail from the main Diablo wash.
By Larry Earley
From: Los Alamos, NM
Oct 10, 2011
Took my GPS today to measure vertical gain and its 480 feet from the arroyo to the base of the climbs. I had guessed 500 feet.
By Lee H
From: Albuqueruqe,NM
Apr 26, 2015
Robin and I went to Coxcomb yesterday (4/25). We parked on the CCC side of the pump house (there's kind of a worn down parking spot just before the gate), and while we were climbing, a security guard put a note (on a napkin) on my windshield saying, "No parking in this Area. Next time you[sic] vehicle will be towed Away At your expense!! 4/25/15". Anyone know what that's about? There are no signs saying "no parking anywhere, and the pump house just has general warnings to stay out of the fence.

edit: I emailed BLM asking about the note. They said that there are not any parking restrictions, and that I should not have received a note. They said they would look into the issue with Santa Fe County.
By Aerili
From: Los Alamos, NM
Aug 29, 2016
Good quality rock and well bolted. Most of the routes are worthwhile and fun climbing. Also, if you let your imagination run wild as you stare at the Comb formation itself (very end far right), you can see a poor man's Bridger Jacks! ;)
By Rick Bradshaw
From: Los Alamos, NM
Apr 7, 2017
Scratching route names onto the route base is not cool. While it may seem to be a nuance, since there are several "plaques" (pieces of flat rock with the route name and grade scratched or pecked onto it) at the base of climbs, scratching the actual rock cliff is permanent damage, ugly, and downright offensive. Yeah, the bolts and bolt holes are permanent damage too but somehow that is different than what could be considered graffiti. I was at the CCC recently and saw several climbs with this added affliction. There is no need since the existing plaques plus the route descriptions and pictures in Mountain Project (and elsewhere) make finding a route easy. Please respect the rock, the natural surroundings, and to some extent the folks that established this area and leave it as unscathed as possible.

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