Will this be our last time repeating this mistake? I hope so. We head to a new area in the camper, at night, after a birthday dinner. The Gilman tunnels are remnants from a narrow gauge railroad that burrowed through the steep canyon walls of the Guadalupe Box. It’s an ominous looking place in the moonlight, with a drop into inky blackness at the edge of the road, and the outlines of monstrous cliffs rising up out of it at an indiscernible distance. We continue quite a distance beyond the tunnels looking for a place to park. We squeeze through trees and into chollas, only to fail to find a level spot. In the end we resort to a nice pullout with a “No Camping” marker. Always scout backcountry camper sites before the sun goes down.
The Guadalupe Box looks smaller in the sunlight, but still like an excellent place to climb. We choose to start at the upper end in an area called The Corridor. The routes here are short, but look sweet. Ivy grows everywhere. Rainstorms roll through all day, but we manage to do a few routes in between. After the second, we bail from the Guadalupe Box, drive to Spence Hot Springs (where the sun comes out again), then finish the day at Las Conchas.
- Unknown 5.9?
- There is one more route on the main wall than in our book. I’m guessing the new one is the furthest right, but it looks reasonable, so I try it. It’s nice slabby climbing with small edges in the slick rock. It starts to rain as Ann is descending, and we retreat back to the camper for lunch.
- Thing 1 5.10a
- After a few hours of rain and drying time, we return and get on the route just left of our first. It seems likely to be Thing 1, a bit harder than the first route, with holds that seem to face every direction but up.
- Bubba 5.11a
- This route seems to gradually get harder and harder as you go. It isn’t powerful at all, though, but demands some thin stemming and delicate balance. I’m excited to make it my first flash at this grade! Ann is also good at this kind of climbing, and follows without a fall just as the rain begins again.
- Bovine Inspiration 5.9
- After our migration to Las Conchas and dinner in the camper, Ann makes a smooth, confident lead of this fun route, with just one short hang after the bouldery start.