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The Back Rocks

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Ewoks, Pigs, And Bears S 
Lighthouse Tower T 

The Back Rocks Rock Climbing 

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Submitted By: Scott Beguin on Aug 19, 2007
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This is a rugged and deserted crag that is to the north of Clifty in upper Rendia Canyon that houses about 20 routes or so. Some are worth doing and some aren't, but the area provide adventurous climbing nonetheless. This area was developed in the early eighties and has been long forgotten and torched. If you are a bored local and need a good workout, you might think about climbing here. Otherwise it is hardly worth the visit. It use to be a lot more enjoyable when there were lots of live trees. It gets sun most of the day and is the same type of rock that you will find at Clifty.

Getting There 

Same as for Clifty but instead of crossing the streambed, continue up Mitchell Trail 69 for about a quarter mile until the cliff comes into direct view and then proceed to do some hellish bushwhacking and gnarly scrambling to the cliff base. It helps to know which route you are going to so you choose the correct gully to approach. If you have reached The Arch Trail intersection, you have gone too far. Approach time is about 30 minutes to one hour depending on trail conditions and fitness level.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.3 miles from here

2 Total Climbing Routes

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

Featured Route For The Back Rocks
Rock Climbing Photo: Lighthouse tower as viewed from the South.

Lighthouse Tower 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b  New Mexico : Los Alamos & White Rock : ... : The Back Rocks
The 5.6 "Original Route" can start at the base, or at the ledge on the West after a short 5th class scramble. From this point the climb is only 15-20 ft and traverses right after a few moves to the ledge on the South side of the tower to the anchors. There is a 5.8 variation that goes straight up from the base on the South side (FA - Baker, Henderson). ...[more]   Browse More Classics in New Mexico

Photos of The Back Rocks Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Back Rocks, from Burns' article from the early...
BETA PHOTO: Back Rocks, from Burns' article from the early...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Back Rocks pre 2000
BETA PHOTO: The Back Rocks pre 2000

Comments on The Back Rocks Add Comment
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By Wa3lt
Mar 23, 2009
You would need to be *very* bored. The rock on all of these routes is utter crap. Small holds break, big holds crumble, your feet will skate around on the dozen of small cubes of rock that come off of every foothold.

Seriously, skip it. I climbed here a couple of times with Luke in the mid 90s and it's not even vaguely worth the approach.
By Brett Kettering
Nov 27, 2016
The approach is quite an endeavor. There are downed trees everywhere and thickets of Locust to stab and scratch you. In the end, we thought we got up near Lighthouse Tower, but weren't sure. We never saw any hangers for Ewoks, Pigs, and Bears, but we're not sure we'd ever know because: a) there are no pictures of it on its beta page; and b) it gives its location based on a reference to "Stoormtrooper", which is not documented.

Here's how we got up near the base of what we thought was Lighthouse Tower.

1) We left the established trail heading to The Arch before The Arch's side trail leaves the main trail. We left the trail at 35.91029N/106.33244W and headed on a bearing of 340 degrees (true) up a gully for a bit and then we bore right a bit to to get out of the gully and up on the high ground between gullies.

2) We found a cairn at 35.91091N/106.33212W. We continued on the high ground, which wasn't too bad in terms of downed trees and Locust thickets, in a northeasterly direction and then we turned to a northwesterly direction.

3) We stopped at 35.91223N/106.33293W, where looking pretty much due north we saw a tower to our north with a greenish dome (see attached photo).

Maybe this will help someone get there. It is a grind, but I can't speak to the quality of climb at this point.
Rock Climbing Photo: What I think may be Lighthouse Tower in red circle...
What I think may be Lighthouse Tower in red circle.
By George Perkins
From: The Dungeon, NM
Nov 27, 2016
Hi Brett,
There is a route list to this area in an article Cam Burns wrote in the early 90s. Cam posts on MP as Camster (Rhymes with Hamster). It has a photo/topo, but my copy is too darkened to make good use of the photo, but I've uploaded it anyway (If someone puts up a cleaner one, or complains about copyright stuff, I'll take it down). Norbert Ensslin or some others in the LA Mountaineers probably also has a version.

Lighthouse Tower is obvious when you're up at the base of it, in the tallest least broken section of cliff. With the route list, I remember being able to find the 5.9/5.10- bolted climbs near to it (at least some of these had hangers). Ewoks, Pigs & Bears is significantly farther to the right (north), and I didn't make it over there.

My experience here: I climbed 15' up one of the bolted climbs, broke a hold, hit the ground, hurt my heel enough that I was done climbing for the day, and hobbled home. Not sure if the rock quality is this bad all over, or if I just had bad luck; it may have been made worse when the area burned during the Cerro Grande fire.

My impression: If "we" cleaned up the approach trail, fixed/replaced bolts & anchors as needed, and cleaned the loose rock to the extent climbers have in the Las Conchas area, it could be an okay alternative for easy sport climbing for locals bored of the Gallows Edge/Las Conchas circuit. I didn't see any amazing potential for great 5.11/harder sport climbs, but maybe I didn't look enough. Won't be interesting enough for out-of-town climbers. The approach hike is kind of pretty were it not for the thorn bushes.

Hope this helps. I'd consider exploring it a bit more with you if you want to, sometime.

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