Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 In Review

Well 2014 has come to a close, and its been another banner year for New Mexico bouldering, with development across the state continuing to catch up with the awesome collection of sport climbing that is already have in place. I feel like its high time I started a "year in review" type post, which may form a useful reference point and keep track of the new boulders. I will save you the blow-by-blow, but here it is in list form. Thanks to Bob Broilo, Gary Parker, Josh Smith & Peter Yeo for filling in the gaps for me and for providing supplemental photos; further photo credits go to Eric Bissell, Rob Wulff, Peck, J Bone, Jack Lester, Spenser Tang-Smith, Craig Copelin and Instagram (click on links to see photos).

All the noteworthy first ascents from 2014 in northern & central New Mexico. Sorry I don't know of anything going on in southern NM, it seems like it's all choss down there anyway. Email me (see postscript)* if I've missed something.

The Ortegas 

La Madera 

Okay I know I am being generous listing the Ripple project as being sent, but I think breaking the hold on the topout of a breathtaking 22' V9 deserves some sort of honorary mention! Certainly I think he wins "Punt of the Year" award. Hopefully Eric will be back to complete this unfinished business.

Ripple Project (To The Lip) V9 - Eric Bissell
Acropolis V8 - Eric Bissell
The Wind Rises V5 - Eric Bissell


Roofie Romance V3 - Kendo
Pulling Teeth V1 - Kevin Carhart

Ortega West

The bouldering highlight of this year has clearly been the discovery of Ortega West (or simply "Ortega"). A vast ridgeline outcrop that is a massive contribution to NM bouldering, and is already up there in quality with pretty much any other sector in NM, and its not even halfway done. Many of the moderates went down this season, next year its time to take the Vs up a notch! Thanks a lot to the Ortega crew for most of these photos.

Eliminator V10 - Jack Lester
Bonzai V9 - Noah Kaufman
Valhalla V7 - Craig Copelin
Tea Bagger V5/6 - Jason Ploss
Homunculous V6 - Gary Parker
Turtlehead V6 - "Peck's friend"
Bareback V6 - Craig Copelin
Centerfold V5/6 - Kendo
Thugalicious V5 - Eric Heatwole
Texican V5 - Craig Copelin
Perl V5 - J Bone
Sword of Calais V5 - Gary Parker
NumPy V5 - Eric Heatwole
Another Eight Inches V5/morpho - Eric Heatwole
Congenital Optimism V5 - Jason Ploss
Ninja Warrior V5 - Josh Smith
Coprophage V5 - Eric Heatwole
Sir Lollipop Man! V4 - Robert Wulff
God Damocles V4 - Gary Parker
Keel Hauler V4 - Gary Parker
Cerberus V4 - William Penner
Slapstick V4 - Josh Smith
Rain Delay V4 - Gary Parker
Touching Cloth V4 - Aaron Miller
Atlas V4 - Gary Parker
Sisyphus V3+ - ??
Second Thoughts V3 - Aaron Miller
Belle of the Ball V3 - Josh, Aaron or Peck
Homo Erectus V3 - Gary Parker
No Hay Pedo V3 - Aaron Miller
That 70s Bush V3 - Eric Heatwole
Foxy Boxing V3 - Bob Broilo
Ape Index VTallMan - Craig Copelin
Cracker V2/3 - Josh Smith
Ace High V2/3 - Josh Smith (and all the Jackpot roof lines)
Jumping Jesus V1/2/morpho - Jason H., Daniel Trugman, or Josh
Giant Steps V2 - Craig Copelin
Two Stroke V2 - Gary Parker
Hello Kitty V2 - Josh Smith
Squirter V1 - Eric Heatwole
Tweedledum V1 - Josh Smith
Stuck in the Mud V1 - Eric Brayden
Peck is not Impressed V1 - Gary Parker


The popular Pond area still holds a few gems for those with an eye. At least one excellent project remains.

Status Quo V6 - Eric Bissell
Piñon Pancake V7 - Eric Bissell


Some of the big kids came to play for a few weekends in Roy this season, and handily dispatched some of the mega projects (which hopefully they will deign to provide names for at some point!). These new problems are the hardest in NM on unaltered stone (there are a few V13/14 problems in the Squat and the Temple, on glued-up limestone). A few mega projects still remain lurking out there however...

Kaiju V13 - Jimmy Webb
Currently unnamed V13 - Dave Graham
Currently unnamed V13 - Dave Graham
Up In Arms V12 - Jimmy Webb
Ocean of Oil V9 - Jamie Emerson
Friends With Benefits / XOXO V9 - Eric Bissell
Desert Spring V8 - Austin James
The Royal We V7 - Eric Bissell

Socorro - Box Canyon

Jason Ploss finally added the obvious sit start to his already challenging Fight Club, but not given a grade for. This project has resisted the efforts of many other strong climbers, inc. Jon Cardwell, so we think its gotta be in the V12/13 range. Impressive work from Jason! Box now has a true testpiece.

Fight Club V12/13? - Jason Ploss
Hemorrhoid Rage V4 - Robert Wulff
Vuck Mandick V3 - Jason Hebert

* o w e n s u m m e r s c a l e s AT gmail

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ortega ridge

Spent an enjoyable, albeit windy, day scrubbing new lines on the ortega ridgeline with the crew. Didn't get to climb - or even try - half of the inspiring looking things which we cleaned, but got a very fun V4 lip traverse done. Jamie came close on it, and will surely be standing proudly on top of it next time. Very much in the style of a squamish block, would be a classic if it were found there - big holds, heel hooks, slopers, pinches, a little bit of body tension. This boulder has a sick line on the overhung face which will be much harder, and quite bold - but with a crew of pads and burly spotters I'd be psyched to try it.

In a nutshell - had fun with friends, spent some time in beautiful nature, climbed a couple of rocks which was fun, tried to climb some others and failed but that was also fun, scrubbed some more rocks and speculated about how they would climb, stared pensively at other rocks, and without cleaning them, also speculated as to how they would climb, played with the dog, further pontificated about climbing rocks in general then called it a day and went home to tea and crumpets.

Photobombed by devil brows. 

Jamie on Keel Hauler V4. Photo: Josh Smith

Jamie on the new Keel Hauler V4. Photo: Gary Parker

The awesome start hold on Keel Hauler, V4. Photo: Gary Parker

Will it go?? Stay tuned to find out

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Chopping Block & the Arch

Thanks to Gary for making these discoveries, some gems will no doubt come out of this rad new zone at Ortega. The gift keeps giving.

Lovin the quartzite, as always.

Cool crystals in rock

The Arch.

Bissell jug crux holds

Side view of the Arch, with the Chopping Block on left


Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Rocktober is here! Bouldering season here in New Mexico is most definitely underway... not that we ever stopped mind you. But Fall and Winter are my favourite times out here in the desert - temps that you can actually try hard in, invigorating, brisk mornings that demand coffee, and a kind of quiet - a pause in the cycle of nature - that seems to slow down the hectic rhythms of modern life.

I managed to get the Santa Fe crew - finally released from their unhealthy summertime sport and gym climbing habits - out to Ortega. I had three objectives in mind, actually four 4 star FAs on three boulders. After getting lost quite spectacularly, we finally got to the B4 boulder in about 30-40 mins from the car. The weather was typically New Mexican - highly changeable, almost alpine - but B4, with its south/west aspect heated up pretty quick. We lapped the established 4 star line Foxy Boxing (V3) to warm up, and finished stabilizing the landing for the highball face. Attempts on the very reachy 4 star project to the right quickly evaporated into futility as we started to feel the sun beat down. Time to move on. Those 4 star FAs on B4 will have to wait.

Centerfold boulder

The Centerfold boulder has sat untouched for no good reason whatsoever. Located next to the Homo boulder, it has a beautiful, slightly overhanging scooped north face dotted with immaculate edges and slopers and capped with a small roof. In the center lies a perfect, ergonomic sloper pinch that looks and feels like it was certainly designed with us climbing monkeys in mind, instead of just being randomly spat out by the mindless mechanics of geologic forces. It's almost enough to make me quit science.. intelligent design FTW. And the bible does say "seek and you shall find". Damn, right about that.

Centerfold holds - exquisite!

Even more gratifyingly, not only did Centerfold look stunning, it climbed incredibly well too. The stand was established by Kendo at V5/6, essentially a series of pinches with a big move in the middle followed by multiple balancey, tensioney small moves that turn out to be the crux. HarSimran raised the bar by adding a sit start, with 5 traversey moves off a toe hook that takes you into the stand V7/8. Ok, we had our first 4 star FA of the day!

HarSimran on the big pinch-to-pinch move on Centerfold

Toehooks for a traversey sit start

So, the final spot of the day involved a bit of a hike into the uncharted realms of the east face of the mountain. I had found this roof - dubbed Happy Hardcore - a while back with Eric Brayden, and it looked spectacular, and hard. The crew wanted steep so steep is what I delivered.

Happy Hardcore roof

Disappointingly, the roof failed to deliver. The angle, height and rock quality were all there, but sadly all the edges were parallel to each other, giving desperate barn door movement, which when coupled with the big start block underneath for feet, just made it feel silly. Perhaps the best line was to the right, on large ledgey features unfortunately the landing sucked and it wasn't exactly the king project line we salivated for.

C'est la vie! The king boulder still waits to be discovered out at Ortega. Given the vast vast amount of quartzite out there that we havent yet seen, Im confident of finding it.

As a footnote, last weekend me and Jamie were out at Posos, and I was cleaning a new line that looked like it would become the hardest line on the blocky roof boulder. There was a small plate that seemed hollow, and I tried to pull it off for the sake of safety... only to watch to my horror as the entire face started moving, not just the plate! With worrying ease I pulled off a 150 lb piece of quartzite the size of my crash pad. Luckily it left a very clean face that improved the problem no end. Another reminder to be careful out there.

Enjoy the season everyone! (and be safe...)


After. Eeek

Luckily there are no Miuras poking out under the edge of this...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ortega West Ridge

Just thought I'd put a quick update on Ortega following a fun and fairly successful day out on Saturday led by Peck, Gary and Josh. We had two out-of-state climbers visiting from AZ - Jay Bone and Jack Lester - who were psyched to join the development spree on the "God stone".

Gotta rush so I'll just throw up these two photos, but a good day was had by all and the West ridge now is starting to have its own circuit (and trails!) emerge.

Jack on his new compression problem, Eliminator V10 ***. Photo credit Jay Bone

William casually sending an awesome but as yet unnamed new highball below the Elysium patio. Photo credit Gary Parker. EDIT: "Cerberus V3/4"