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Socorro Bouldering Guide - Introduction

This is an effort to identify, document, grade, photograph, locate (UTM), provide history for, and climb all the boulder problems in the Socorro, New Mexico area. This is my second attempt to create a guide, the fruit of the Socorro Bouldering Documentation Project.


Bouldering and climbing are inherently dangerous activities that may result in serious injury or death. By choosing to climb or boulder, a person is choosing to put themself into a dangerous situation, and assumes all responsibility for his or her safety or well-being. Maybe you will listen to this: I have personally suffered two severed ligaments in my leg, numerous pulled tendons in the fingers and elbows, hundreds of flappers, a broken radius bone in my arm, dozens of bruised heels, several sprains and re-sprains of both ankles, thousands of abrasions, a broken finger, several yucca blades in tender spots, seperated ribs, puncture wounds from tree limbs, a lost toenail and a lost fingernail, dented shins, the terror of catching my scrotum on a rock tooth on the lip of a boulder while slowing sliding off, hundreds of cactus needles, two shoulder dislocations, several bee and wasp stings, many hangovers, head injury that scared the nurses in the ER, embedded foreign material in my body that has yet to come out, an injured coccyx, and some lost innocence (well, that last one more from boulderers than from bouldering).

This guide will only tell you where the boulders are and what known established problems are on them. It does not tell you how to boulder safely, how to survive outdoors, how to deal with inclement weather or animals, or how to navigate without getting lost.

The boulder problems in this guide are not checked for safety. There may be loose rock, poisonous snakes and insects, sharp holds, bad landings, crazy drunk idiots with guns or vehicles, asteroid impacts, lightning strikes, biting dogs, cow dung, cactus, flash floods, and numerous other dangers to life and health. Any person going to the areas described here must be aware of all potential hazards and dangers and be trained to deal with them before going.

Socorro, New Mexico

Socorro County is larger than the state of Connecticut, and there are only 13,000 people here. Most of these people are in the town of Socorro and just North and South in small towns along the Rio Grande river. The rest of the county is mostly vast expanses of empty hills, grasslands, forests, mountains, and what some call "blasted wasteland".

Just to the West of Socorro County is an even larger county, Catron. Except Catron has just 4000 people.

There will be some poeple at Box on weekends in the Winter, and some at the Enchanted Tower in the summer, but other than that you will be the only group at many of these areas. Cell phones will have spotty converage. Police and rangers are rare. Gas stations are far apart.

The town of Socorro is an oasis of food, beverage, and supplies in this land of wonderful solitude. There is also a movie theatre. Magdalena has a few restaraunts and gas, Datil has one restaraunt that sells fuel, and Pie Town has two small restaraunts. However, the closest climbing shop is Stone Age gym in Albuquerque, 70 miles North.

There are hospitals in Socorro, Belen, Quemado, and Truth or Consequences.


A deeper history of the Socorro-area climbing can be found in the
history section of this guide. This guide was started in May of 1999, during a time when some prolific boulderers were discovering piles of good problems (and age was starting to erode holes in my brain). I started taking notes and photographs with the purpose of creating a free, web-based guide to the area. Then, I abandoned the idea for two years because it seemed like too much work (and my gadfly, Spudboy, moved away).

However, I continued taking notes and pictures for my own reasons.

Suddenly, bouldering popularity exploded. Demand for beta to the area grew to be a pain in the ass, and then I got a bunch of Opie's old hand drawn topos, so here is a crappy guide for ya!

In the seven years since 1999, the bouldering renaissance continues with new discoveries and rediscoveries every year. Even now in 2006 we have just discovered new good bouldering areas, for example: Tall, easy highball bouldering at Monsters of Rock near Monster Island, and difficult, technical, barely-overhung bouldering deep in Chloride Canyon in the Black Range. Right now I have difficulty keeping track of the dozens of new problems we are doing and this guide is suffering from neglect. Not only are there pages of rough notes here, but I have a stack of small notebooks next to my keyboard filled with areas, boulders, and problems.


Many people come to the Socorro area to enjoy the natural setting and enjoy the rock in a natural, organic way. No one person owns any of the rock on public land. These rocks must be shared among all people. The rock can be chossy, but there is a huge, unclimbed amount of very solid rock. New boulder problems are being found weekly, and a lot of the natural, extremely difficult lines are still unclimbed. Do not chip, glue, chisel, or modify the rock in any way except to remove loose flakes and dirt. It's OK if a hold falls off: leave it off! Do not "comfortize" in any way because many who come here crave the stimulation provided by the holds as they exist. This is a special place that is brilliant fun. Please don't deface it. The only damage to the entire Socorro area bouldering at the writing of this document were three minor mistakes:
  1. one glued-on hold on Unbeatable (it still goes at the grade if you off the tainted hold, and is considered a mistake),
  2. one glued-on and chiseled hold on Edges that nobody uses, so it's a mystery why someone put it there, and
  3. some useless, ridiculous chiseled holds on East Streambed.
A precedent has been set here, all problems free, natural, and unmodified! Get good or desperate enough to climb it as nature built it or leave it for someone better, stronger, more courageous, or just more willing to pull on choss.

Do not litter, build new fire rings, or start fires in caves (hurts the bats). Do not drive off established roads as marked on the map. Do stay on established trails when possible. Respect private landowners. Respect the plants and animals, be they wild or domestic. Do not climb on or near any pictographs or rock art. Do not collect artifacts like potsherds or arrowheads, this is illegal and will annoy the land managers. There are specific issues for each area, so be sure to read the introduction for each.

Be friendly and have fun!

Climb any way you want that doesn't hurt the rock or wildlife: chalk, crashpads, beta spew, cleaning holds, even chalk tick marks (ick, if you have to) are considered OK. Clean tick marks off afterward.

The Info

General Layout:
#. (0-3 stars) Problem - consensus V-rating(V range)/B-rating warnings FA and date, if known
tidbits, etc.

Problems are usually from left to right on a boulder/wall, a "*" next to the FA means that there is strong evidence that the problem had been done before but the info is lost. A "?" anywhere means that the info is sketchy. And some words of wisdom from Matt Samet: "I mean, what do you count as a first ascent too when you're bouldering, a variation or just a new line?".

The quality ratings:
A great, fun problem, a classic anywhere
A must do
(none)Avoid if you are just visiting

The V range is the range of ratings reported by various people, and helps to remind you not to get hung up on the ratings.

Since no one but The Verm can put a real "V" rating on a problem anyway, don't sweat the grade. It's just there as a rough guide, to help you find stuff you might enjoy. A lot of the locals don't seem to place much emphasis on the grades.

However, I do try real hard to come up with accurate ratings. The grades given here are consensus grades, an approximate average of the reported grades. If you disagree with anything in here, please let me know! More data points equals more accurate grading.

Some of the problems are in the new experimental "Box" system, which is a perversion of the old John Gill "B" scale. The intent of this rating is to give people a general idea of the difficulty so they can plan their bouldering day while avoiding the numbers chase. The Box or B system is thus:
Box Verms V YDS
Box 0 or B0 V0 5.0 to 5.10c Everyone can enjoy
Box 1 or B1 V1 to around V55.10d to 5.12b Intermediate
Box 2 or B2 V6ish and up 5.12c and up Advanced to Ridiculous
Box 3 or B3 unrepeated V6+ 5.12+ and up If repeated, B1 or B2


People I have sucked info from:
Matt "Spudboy" Cowan, Philip Simon, Donn "Cooch" Goodhew, Emmet Roache, Andy Mayer, Craig "Opie" Copelin, Paul Arendt, Colin "Rawdog", Robert "Spaz", Collin "chorvat", Kate, Liz, Eric "Peck" Heatwole, Jake and Gail, Will, Scott, Sam, Miss Jen, John "Verm" Sherman, Joel "Dirty Hippy Boy" Bensing, Sal Maestas, Matt Jones, Nathaniel, Cliff Walker, Tommy, Steve.
updated April 17th, 2007
Bob Broilo