By Susan Brown
Grab your ropes, carabiners, climbing shoes, and harness, and head out for a chal-lenging day of climbing or leave everything home except your climbing shoes for a day of bouldering. These five spots challenge the whole body, mind, and spirit asyou scramble up the side of a mountain.
Box Canyon has a little something for every climber. Every style of climbing isrepresented—bouldering, sport, traditional and nail-up aid climbing—with just a few multi-pitch climbs. Take Box Canyon Trail, a 15-mile out-and-back route, toget to climbing and bouldering spots. Hot in summer, comfortable in spring and fall, manageable in winter.
Little Horse Mesa, a 40 to 50-foot cliff of basalt rock with vertical cracks and face climbs, is found at about 8,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The climbs are relatively short, but the rock is a fun adventure. Take Little Horse Mesa Trail toget out to the climbing area. Check inat the visitors center before.
Named for a generous chunk of limestone in the middle of the climbing area, the names sounds imposing ...it’s not. It’s considered a good spot for easy climbing and training with a few tough spots thrown in just to keep things interesting. There’s a short hike down into the canyon to the climbing site—trail is marked. The can-yon gets little sunlight soitcan get cold. Go prepared!
Smack dab in the middle of a grama grass plain and desert meadow land is a group of giant rocks, sculpted formations that look like pinnacles rising as high as 40 feet. With paths through these vertical boulders reminiscent of a “city,” thus the name, these thumbs of monolithic rock are just made for bouldering—you’ll also find overhangs and a few slabs. The Hydra Trail takes you around the perimeter of the rocks—you’ll find a way to the rock climbing area from anywhere along the trail.
On the east side of the Sandia Mountain, Palomas Peak has about 100, mainly bolted, sport climbs on 70-foot, high quality limestone. At 8,000 feet, the south-west facing cliff isin full sun most of the year, making this a favorite spot for climbers in every season. Pick upLa Luz Trail, a strenuous and challenging hike that takes at least a half-hour, from an upper parking area to get the climbing area.