Last week, Susan and I went to Northern New Mexico for a climbing trip to El Rito. Learn about the El Rito sport climbing area here.
The climbing is very unique. The rock is conglomerate, made up of of metamorphosed sand and mud, with smooth, rounded cobbles of all sizes sticking out with most of the holds being pockets in the rock that the cobbles left behind when some of them fell out. Many of the walls are overhanging, but with an over abundance of jugs, offering many routes as easy as 5.10. There are also some excellent, steep 5.11's and 5.12's.
I enjoyed the 5.11's and 5.12's the most. Many of the best are long and very continuous with really fun climbing. Pumpy too, no hard moves, you just have to hold on for the ride.
Biggest highlight of the climbing trip for me was climbing on the Rad Wall. Awesome 5.11's and 5.12's! I onsighted a 5.11d/12a and a 5.12a (finally starting to get some endurance) on that wall.
I would assume that one of the big highlights for Susan was her flash of her first 5.11a (cruised it) and working the moves on some 5.12's. Susan continues to get stronger!
For those interested in going there, check out the online El Rito sport climbing guidebook here.
We had some other excitement at El Rito besides the climbing. The weather was a bit crazy the first day we climbed and we got caught in one of the more exciting thundershowers I've witnessed. Around 2:30 pm we saw some really close lighting and decided to hike back down to camp and escape the ridge line that all the climbing was on. About half way down the trail we got pounded on by hard rain and it would have been pretty funny to watch us sprinting for camp in the mud, completely soaked, with lightning flashing everywhere around us. Exciting!
Side note: I sacrificed all by putting all of the metal (draws and such) in my pack, on the hike down in the storm, so that Susan wouldn't get hit by lightning (I owed it to her because I convinced her to stay and climb right up until the really close lightning strikes and she had the better sense and was voting for leaving before it got bad. I think she was right and we should have left a bit earlier)
Oh...I almost forgot. The camping is pretty sweet there too. Free camping by a trickling creek really close to the cliffs. There is even a cool little canyon, with a couple small waterfalls in it, that you can walk to and cool off on a hot summer day. Really nice.
Sorry for the lack of photos of El Rito. We were really bad at bringing the camera with us to the crag. I do have a couple shots that aren't that great but will give you at least a little bit of an idea of what the place was like.
Camping spot with nice little stream a few feet back in the trees.
Camping spot with El Rito crag in background.
The only photo of one of us climbing at El Rito! This is the first route we did of the trip. It was a fun little 5.9 (the rock climbs way better than it looks). Sorry for the lack of climbing photos.