Scouting for campsites near Utopian Vistas

This is the first time we’ve had any serious car trouble out in the boonies. We head up US285, then east on NM567, and finally up a small forest road. We’d like to find a good group campsite for the memorial day weekend, but it’s getting dark and we decide to settle in for the night and look more tomorrow. Ann gets out, finds a good spot ahead, and waves me in. As I turn off the road there’s a loud “POW!” and dust swirls over the hood of the truck. I get out to look with Ann, and see a small stump has impaled our front passenger side tire. Fun! We settle in to the camper for the night, wondering if we have everything we need to get ourselves out of the situation.

We make a good go of it in the morning. Our spare comes out of storage in good shape, and we have a working bottle jack. But, after several attempts to lift the tire off the stump with the bottle jack, we give up. It just doesn’t have the extension we need. Our good luck is that we can get a cell phone call through, and Ann’s attempts to explain our situation to the AAA woman in Georgia border on hilarity. We assure her that we are not blocking traffic, and she tells us help should arrive in 30 minutes.

Simon the tow truck driver, on the other hand, knows exactly what we need. I guess we must not be the only ones to strand ourselves like this. He maneuvers the giant wrecker through the sagebrush, gets in front of us, and lifts us off the stump with ease. There’s a good video clip of the operation. (If you read this Simon, leave a comment – we’d be more than happy to give you a belay sometime.)

Mobile once more, we head to the crag with plenty of time left for a few exploratory routes:

Writing Down the Bones 5.7
A nice mellow introduction to the good basalt here.
Forever Jung 5.8
Definitely less mellow, especially when I move off route and have to make some awkward clips. I do it again on TR, and it definitely will work better moving left to the corner below the roof, though still will be a heady 5.8 lead. The pockets and big edges are great.
Klein’s Corner 5.9
This is a great climb. A finger crack, roof traverse, edges, pockets, and stemming all coalesce on excellent rock. I do it again on TR as well, just for the pleasure.

3 responses to “Scouting for campsites near Utopian Vistas”

  1. Ann is the one who saves us in these situations – I’m terrible about keeping AAA and things like that up to date.

  2. I had just transferred our AAA membership from Colorado to NM the week before, and I picked up the cards out of the mail box AS WE DROVE OUT FOR THE WEEKEND! Yay!

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