El Rito Camping and Sport Climbing

After four days in Santa Fe, we put our new lifestyle to the test by taking our home up into the hills for a long weekend of climbing. We leave Thursday evening when Ann gets off work. The drive in with the camper turns out to be pretty stressful due to many low tree branches. It’s just barely possible. Lisa and Dyson have claimed a good campsite for us, and Dyson waves us in with a glowstick so there’s no doubt which dark campsite is ours. Over the next days I am introduced to the sport climbing area, and also some of the sourrounding terrain, including a fascinating little gorge and waterfall. This is a really pleasant spot. There’s a creek, it’s high enough for Ponderosas and Junipers, but low enough for some shade-giving Oaks. Elaine, Chris, Sherry, and Q join us on Saturday and Sunday for some added fun.

There also Ann’s pictures for you Flickroos.

I mapped the hike to the sport climbing area. There is also a higher trad area that we have yet to explore.

Our routes for the trip:

Crest Chewel 5.9
A bit of a nerve-wracking start for me. I start in the wrong place, and have people running over to spot me when I change my mind and downclimb. After correcting that I hit the overhanging section up high and overgrip. All while questioning the friction and stability of the strange cobblestone. Woohoo!
Slacker Ken, 5.9
More my kind of route, balancy and thought-provoking.
Balls to the Wall, 5.10b
Good steep climbing, but I pump out, take falls, and am unable to finish. Now I realize that I have not been climbing very much. Ann finishes the route for me in fine form!
Boltaneer, 5.10a
For her first 5.10 lead, Ann picks this 90-foot long area classic, and makes it! Not without some hanging, but I’m proud of her regardless.
Short Bus 5.7
A good warmup. Dyson gets some good moves on TR.
Redline 5.11a
Lisa leads this for us, good steep blocks to a very unsatisfying overhanging crack.
Gridlock 5.10a
We move our toprope onto this. Similar to Redline but gets very hard at the top. I reach around the arete to finish.
Walt’s Wall Waltz, 5.7
A big block at the bottom makes a fall on the first few bolts unadvisable, but the off-vertical cobblestone moves are nice. Feels hard for the grade up top.
Mini Me 5.8
Steep with deep pockets. Very fun, some of our camping visitors get on this as their first climb and have a ball.
Cobzilla 5.8
A bit of an awkward climb with some space between bolts and bulging features that make it kind of an uncomfotable lead.
Blackbeard 5.10c
Lisa puts this up for us, and I surprise myself by making up on TR without falling. Great vertical climbing on a variety of holds – I think my favorite route of the bunch.

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