White Rock Crags

 

 

White Rock, New Mexico is the small bedroom community of Los Alamos.  It is situated on the Rio Grande canyon rim just east of Los Alamos.  The ruggedly beautiful basalt canyon rim contains hundreds of world class climbs, and is truly a joy to behold.  Some of the crags listed here are trad by community agreement, and others are heavily bolted sport routes.  The most popular crag is the "Overlook", which is named after the "White Rock Overlook" (a popular tourist attraction in the area).  The "Overlook" has been the site of the "Meltdown" climbing competition for several years.  To get to White Rock take NM 502 to NM 4 toward Bandelier National Monument.  You will arrive at White Rock after about 4 miles.  The guides below contain road maps to help you find the crags.  The latest and best published guide for this area is the Jemez Rock guide book by J. Mark Beverly.

  • All other route guides or links to route guides on this site reside here.

  • Local climbing gyms are often available in the event of bad weather and/or evenings.

  • Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailheads and crags.

  • Click here for a White Rock Weather Forecast.

Our heart felt thanks go out to the many local climbers who have written the web based route guides referenced below. A very special thank you goes to MountainProject for collecting much of this information and making it available for all climbers. LAM supports MP's efforts by requesting that local climbers contribute directly to MP's site when new information becomes available on area climbs.

 

 

The "Y" The Overlook The Underlook The Doughnut Shop Below Old New Place
Old New Place/Sununu Gallow's Edge The Pit The Playground/Coffee Shop New New Place/Lounge
Pajarito Gorge Potrillo Cliffs Tortilla Flats The Big Enchilada The Sewer Crag
 

 

 

 

 

The "Y"

The "Y" is a 45 foot basalt canyon with about 35 traditional and toprope routes.  The "Y" is a popular toproping area for locals.  It is not on the White Rock Canyon rim as are most other climbs on our local listings; it is on the Los Alamos Canyon rim instead.  Due to the narrow canyon, it's not climbable in the winter.  There are routes on both sides of the canyon - the north side (which faces south) has most of them.  Topo of the North Wall with descriptions, and Topo of the South Wall with descriptions.  Sport route bolting is not permitted here, by community agreement.

The "Y" is just east of the intersection of NM 502 and NM 4.  The unobvious parking area is just past the first guard rail on the south side of NM 502.  Park along the road (beside the fence), and walk between the guard rail and the fence to the cliff's edge.  The descent is at the west end of the cliffs.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

The Overlook

The "Overlook" is a long 65' high "L" shaped basalt cliff with over 65 sport and traditional routes.  This area is White Rock's premier sport climbing and toproping crag (routes on the Overlook's popular south side have had toproping bolts installed that can be reached from the rim).  The area is climbable year-round, due to the varied aspect of the cliff.  Most people come to the Overlook to sport climb; though many worthy cracks exist, but they are not on par with those of many other crags in the vicinity.  Click here for the Lower Buttress routes, here for the North/West side routes, and here for the South/East side routes; a large topo is here for the South/East side.

To get to the "Overlook," turn off NM 4 onto Rover, make an immediate left onto Meadow Lane.  Turn left at the sign on Meadow Lane that announces "Overlook Park."  Follow this road due east until you get to its end.  Park here, and walk straight out. Just before you get to the Rio Grande "Overlook", turn left (north), and walk to the end of a narrow ridge of rock.  Climb down to the next level, which is the top rope anchor level.  Due north is the sport climbing area, and due east is the more traditional, crack, bolted, and top roping area.  The Overlook top ropes are all set with bolts.  It is not always obvious that people are below...be careful!  Get to the cliff base by following a distinct trail on the south end of the main cliff.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

 

 

The Underlook

The Underlook is a tiny cliff that is very close to the well-known Overlook climbing area.  It often offers shade when climbers on the main wall of the Overlook are fried by the sun; it seldom sees traffic.  The routes are short and not of the highest quality, but Little Miss Polly is definitely worth a visit in the shade.  Click here for a route guide.

To get to the "Underlook," turn off NM 4 onto Rover, make an immediate left onto Meadow Lane.  Turn at the sign on Meadow Lane that announces "Overlook Park."  Follow this road due east until you get to its end.  Park here, and walk straight out. Just before you get to the Rio Grande "Overlook", turn left (north), and walk to the end of a narrow ridge of rock.  Climb down to the next level, which is the top rope anchor level.  Get to the cliff base by following a distinct trail on the south end of the main cliff.  Go to the pointed north end of the main cliff, then head northeast and downhill on a smaller trail.  After a couple of minutes you should approach the small northwest-facing Underlook.  Total approach time about 15 minutes.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

The Sewer Crag

The "Sewer Crag" is named for its proximity to the White Rock Sewer Plant, and has two of White Rocks hardest sport climbs.  The south-east facing cliff is of pocketed basalt. This crag is opposite of the "North/West side of The Overlook" crag, and has five bolted routes.  Difficulty is high, quality is low and dirty, and it gets very little use.  Click here for a route guide.

To get to the "Sewer Crag," turn off NM 4 onto Rover Blvd, make an immediate left onto Meadow Lane.  Turn at the sign on Meadow Lane that announces "Overlook Park."  Park near the sewer plant on your left (north). Hike according to directions in guide.

The Doughnut Shop

The "Doughnut Shop" is a bolted sport climbing area with nine bolted climbs.  The climbs are fairly stiff, but the variety is quite good.  Click here and here for route guides.

To get to the "Doughnut Shop" from NM state road 4, turn south on Rover Blvd.  After about 200 yards, take a left on Meadow Lane.  Park near 719 Meadow Lane, being careful not to block mailboxes or driveways (several residents have complained in the past).  Take the public access trail between 719 and 721 Meadow Lane.  Then walk south (right) along the mesa rim for approximately two hundred yards.  Locate a break in the rim which leads into a loose gully.  Descend the gully and walk right (south) to the "Doughnut Shop".  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

Below the Old New Place

"Below the Old New Place" is a 60 foot, southeast facing, basalt cliff with approximately 30 bolted and traditional routes. Excellent and classic lines are found here. This area is not recommended for top roping because of poor anchor availability, and a loose and sloping cliff edge. However, it is great for leading.  Click here for a route guide.

To get to "Below the Old New Place" from NM state road 4, turn south on Rover Blvd. After about 200 yards, take a left on Meadow Lane. Park near 719 Meadow Lane, being careful not to block mailboxes or driveways (several residents have complained in the past). Take the public access trail between 719 and 721 Meadow Lane.

"Below the Old New Place" is almost straight out and down two full levels into the canyon.  Descend at a low point on the mesa rim, passing by the base of the "Old New Place", continuing down to the next level tending slightly right.  "Below the Old New Place" is BELOW the "The Old New Place".  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

 

 

The Old New Place and the Sununu Place

The "Old New Place" is a 60 foot, southeast facing, basalt cliff with approximately 20 traditional routes and topropes.  Many excellent and classic lines, mostly cracks, are found here.  Many are best toproped.  This is a good crag at which to escape the crowds at the Overlook or the Playground.  The descent is on an unobvious rock trail at the south end of the climbing area (at a low spot along the cliff edge).  Click here for a route guide, and here for a large topo.  Sport route bolting is not permitted here, by community agreement.

The "Sununu Place" is a small crag with two 30' bolted sport routes and a single trad line, located 30 yards south of the "Below the Old New Place" crag.  Click here for a guide.  The approach is the same as for the "Old New Place", then scramble down from the north end of the "Old New Place".

To get to the "Old New Place" from NM state road 4, turn south on Rover Blvd.  After about 200 yards, take a left on Meadow Lane.  Park near 719 Meadow Lane, being careful not to block mailboxes or driveways (several residents have complained in the past).  Take the public access trail between 719 and 721 Meadow Lane.  The "Old New Place" is almost straight out, but veer left (north) slightly. It is a very short walk to the high spot on the cliff edge.  The descent is via an unobvious rock trail at the south end of the crag, at a low spot along the cliff edge.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

 

Gallow's Edge and Upper Tier

Gallow's Edge features pleasant southern exposure, moderate sport and traditional routes, and fun moderate bouldering.  There are sport and traditional routes from 5.4 to 5.9 (with one, out of place 5.12). Boulder problems range from 5.6 to V3.  This area is best for leading, rather than top roping, due to rather difficult anchor sets.  Click here for route guides on Mountain Project.  Here is the old PDF guide

The small cliff above the Main Wall at Gallows Edge is called the "Upper Tier".  It contains two bolted routes and a decent crack climb.

To get to the "Gallow's Edge" from NM state road 4, turn south on Rover Blvd.  After about 200 yards, take a left on Meadow Lane.  Park near 719 Meadow Lane, being careful not to block mailboxes or driveways (several residents have complained in the past).  Take the public access trail between 719 and 721 Meadow Lane.  "Gallow's Edge" is on the third cliff band below the parking level.  Walk almost straight out, but veer left (north) somewhat, and start down the faint trail that leads to the base of the "Old New Place."  Take a very faint trail south-east through the talus.  When you arrive at the base of the third cliff band you will see several bolted routes.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

 

 

The Pit

The Pit is a nice and typically shady little area enclosed by a wall on the west side and big boulders on the east side.  It is amazing just to visit the place, and even more fun to climb in it.  On the west wall is a Thunderbird, painted by an unknown artist, that predates the first climbing in the Pit.  During the monsoon, cool desert toads can be seen in some of the pockets of the painting.  The Pit offers sport and traditional routes with ratings from 5.7 to 5.10. Toproping of the 20 - 40 feet long routes is possible.  Click here and here for route guides.

To get to the Pit from NM state road 4, turn south on Rover Blvd.  After about 100 yards, take a left on Meadow Lane.  Follow this street (it will slowly curve south) passing the turnoff for the "Overlook", and continue to 719 Meadow Lane.  Park near by, being careful not to block mailboxes or driveways (several residents have complained in the past).  Take the public access trail between 719 and 721 Meadow Lane.  Go to Gallow's Edge, then head North for about 300 feet.  Watch for anchors on the left side on top of some rocks, closed in by some big boulders.  Pass anchors for 30 feet, climb into a hole in the big boulders and work your way to the left, being careful of the loose rocks.  Note you will have to climb down a few feet and then work your way up through a narrow opening to enter the Pit. Total approach time should be no more than 15 minutes.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

 

The Playground and Coffee Shop

The Playground is a 60 foot south-facing basalt cliff with over 40 traditional routes and topropes.  This area is White Rock's most popular toproping area.  Numerous moderate to difficult crack and face climbs ascend the cliff.  In addition, the entire base of the cliff can be traversed as a boulder problem.  Many people come here just for the excellent bouldering.  Be warned, however, that this bouldering is very dissimilar from what most boulderers would enjoy, and has as much to do with memorizing moves as strength.  Toproping is usually fairly easy, bring a rack and long slings to tie off trees.  Most toprope sets are on a shelf 10' below the rim.  Click here for a route guide.  Sport route bolting is not permitted here, by community agreement.

The nearby "Coffee Shop" (aka "Quickstop") is a 35 foot south facing basalt cliff with a handful of decent topropes and trad routes.  It is rather short, but entertaining if you get tired of the Playground.  Approach as for the Playground, but once there, face towards the river, turn left (north), and walk about 40 yards toward the The Doughnut Shop.  You'll see the obvious short cliff at the top of a scree slope.  Click here for a route guide to the "Coffee Shop".

To get to the Playground from NM state road 4, turn south on Rover Blvd.  After about 100 yards, take a left on Meadow Lane.  Follow this street (it will slowly curve south) passing the turnoff for the "Overlook", and continue to 719 Meadow Lane.  Park near by, being careful not to block mailboxes or driveways (several residents have complained in the past).  Take the public access trail between 719 and 721 Meadow Lane.  From here, turn right and walk toward the rim of the canyon.  Follow the rim for 300 yards and locate an approach gully with a 30 foot basalt tower on it's left side.  At the bottom of this gully is the Playground.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

 

The New New Place and the Lounge

The "New New Place" is a 60 foot, southeast facing, basalt cliff with approximately 20 traditional routes and topropes.  Many excellent and classic lines, mostly cracks, are found here.  Many are best toproped.  This is a good crag at which to escape the crowds at the Overlook or the Playground.  Click here for a route guide.  Sport route bolting is not permitted here, by community agreement.

The "Lounge" is well below the "New New Place" and has eight bolted climbs and several trad lines.  Click here for a route guide with more information.  The approach is the same as for the New New Place, after you reach the New New Place, scramble straight down the scree filled gully for about 100 yards to locate the Lounge.

To get to the "New New Place," park at the cul-de-sac at the east end of Kimberly.  Walk straight out, but veer left (east).  The main climbing area is a short walk from the cul-de-sac. The descent is a down climb at the south end of the main climbing area.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

 

Pajarito Gorge

Pajarito Gorge is a 300' deep gorge with so much exposure that some find it quite intimidating.  Climbing is best done on the upper 60-80 feet of the cliff band.  On a few climbs, coming off may leave you dangling hundreds of feet above the floor of the gorge.  Not to worry, you can get back to where your belayer is holding you, but it will definitely get your attention.  Setting up top rope anchors on the upper cliff band and making the down climb are the most dangerous part of the adventure.  Click here for the Lower Buttress routes, click here for the Main Wall-Upper Tier routes, and click here for the Western Wall routes.

To get to the Pajarito Gorge approach/descent, park at the cul-de-sac at the east end of Kimberly.  Hike 2 minutes South-East to the bench and plaque sign.  This sign is just above route #21 (unnamed 5.8- in the Jemez Rock guide book by J. Mark Beverly). The descent is about 60' west of the plaque.  Currently, a small cairn marks the top of the descent route, which is not obvious (but is the only place that looks even possibly doable).  Descend exposed 4th class blocks and hand cracks about 15'.  Then traverse to the east on a 2' ledge around an improbable corner and scramble downwards on easier ground; this puts you at the base of Poseidon Adventure (5.10c which seemed easy for the grade), which has a BIG left slanted layback crack.  A few climbs are just to the right (east) of this one, but for most, go down farther then contour around to the west.  Rappelling off anchors of trees/benches/signs/columnar blocks is another option to avoid exposed downclimbing.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

Note: To identify routes in this area, it helps to look for bolts as reference points: the first bolt and hanger you'll probably see is up high and appears to belong to route #16 (Gorgonzola 5.12a "ultra contrived").  As you move to the west, the next bolt is relatively low down (approx. 15' up?) on a clean slab below a finger crack and is Route #13 (unnamed 5.10b).  Farther left (west), Route #6 (the clean obvious 5-star 5.11a splitter hand crack near the left end of the cliff) is a good reference too.  I think it is really hard to identify routes from the top at this place... Jemez Rock also describes routes on "Western Wall" and "Lower Buttress".

 

Potrillo Cliffs

Potrillo Cliffs consists of a 45 foot high, "L" shaped, basalt cliff with about 30 fairly easy traditional and toprope routes between 5.4 to 5.12.  This crag is the best crag for beginning climbers in all of White Rock. This crag is sometimes very crowded, partly due to the ease of setting up topropes, especially in the afternoons when it receives direct sunlight until sunset.  Click here and here for route guides.  Bolting is discouraged.

To get to Potrillo Cliffs from NM state road 4, turn southeast on Monterey South.  Follow this for .7 miles until you come to Potrillo road.  Turn right on Potrillo and continue for .8 miles until you come to Estante road.  Take another right and follow the road back until you come to a pullout on the right side of the road (.3 miles), just past a fire hydrant (this hydrant is on the right side of the road as you approach, don't be fooled by an earlier hydrant on the left).  Park here.  Follow the obvious trail south until it splits, and follow the right branch.  Continue down this trail until you come upon a "Government Property" sign.  Just past this sign veer LEFT onto a less obvious trail.  Follow this trail to the cliff's edge.  The climbing area is on both sides of a corner formed by the cliff's edges.  The descent is at the north end of the main climbing area.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

NOTE: Be very careful to keep adequate distance from the FIRE HYDRANT, mail boxes, driveways, and the edge of the road, when parking.  You must keep your tires off the road when you park.  If you don't obey these rules, you may get a ticket.  The local property owners demand legal enforcement.  We are developing a bad reputation with them, which could haunt us for years to come.

 

Tortilla Flats

Tortilla Flats is a beginners' top roping area developed by Roy Lucht, Mike Montoya, Lou Horak and Jim Straight.  It is located about 200-300 yards west of the Big Enchilada on Potrillo Canyon.  The cliffs tend to be short (40-50 ft) and have a ledge about halfway up.  Most of the top rope sets provide two climbs, and in many cases, one is comparatively easy and coupled with a harder line.  The area offers a wide variety of cracks, mantles, and more importantly, faces.  The top rope sets generally use a length of static line back to a tree or to large rocks.  The top also accommodates pro for sets.  The actual cliffs run from southeast to northwest and are therefore in the shade until about 1 pm.  They are hot on summer afternoons.  Click here and here for route guides.  Tortilla Flats is not a good beginners' lead area.

To get to Tortilla Flats from NM state road 4, turn southeast on Monterey South.  Follow this for .7 miles until you come to Potrillo road.  Turn right on Potrillo and continue for .8 miles until you come to Estante road.  Take another right and follow the road back until you come to a pullout on the right side of the road (.3 miles), just past a fire hydrant (this hydrant is on the right side of the road as you approach, don't be fooled by an earlier hydrant on the left).  Park here.  Follow the obvious trail south until it splits, and follow the left branch a short distance.  There is an unobvious, easy, descent gully on the east end of the cliffs (probably the easiest in the area) and a slightly harder one on the west end.  The climbs are bounded by these two gullies.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

NOTE: Be very careful to keep adequate distance from the FIRE HYDRANT, mail boxes, driveways, and the edge of the road, when parking.  You must keep your tires off the road when you park. If you don't obey these rules, you may get a ticket.  The local property owners demand legal enforcement.  We are developing a bad reputation with them, which could haunt us for years to come.

 

The Big Enchilada and Crack House

The Big Enchilada is a 60 foot, southwest facing, basalt cliff with numerous traditional and toprope routes.  Routes are somewhat chossy and many are infrequently climbed.  The Big Enchilada also features 2 bolted sport routes.  This cliff is in a good location and is fairly tall.  Many good routes can be found here, while avoiding the crowds.  Many trad leaders practice here.  Click here for an East Side route guide, and click here for a South Side route guide.  Bolting is permitted here, but is discouraged, due to the lack of good sport climbing potential.

To get to the Big Enchilada from NM state road 4, turn southeast on Monterey South.  Follow this for .7 miles until you come to Potrillo road.  Turn right on Potrillo and continue for .8 miles until you come to Estante road.  Take another right and follow the road back until you come to a pullout on the right side of the road (.3 miles), just past a fire hydrant (this hydrant is on the right side of the road as you approach, don't be fooled by an earlier hydrant on the left).  Park here.  Follow the obvious trail south until it splits, and follow the left branch.  Follow this trail to its end (a cliff edge).  You have arrived!  The hike is about 0.75 miles.  Top rope sets are available to the right and left of the trail end.  Watch for loose rocks on the climbs; particularly near the top.  The descent gully is slightly left of the trail end.  As you come down the gully, two bolted climbs will be on your left, and the main Big Enchilada area is around the corner to the right.  Click here for a detailed street map, showing the location of trailhead and crag.

The nearby "Crack House" (aka Estante Edge) is a 45 foot tall south-facing basalt cliff with 25 traditional and toprope routes.  The routes tend to be on the short side, but are extremely high quality.  Most follow crack systems, though there are a few face routes worth doing.  Sport route bolting is not permitted here, by community agreement, as topropes are fairly easy to set on the bench above the cliff, and many of the routes can be led with traditional gear.  This area has the largest concentration of hard crack climbs in White Rock.  Follow the Big Enchilada access trail south until it splits, and follow the left branch.  After passing a sign instructing you not to "disturb rocks", you will be at the canyon rim.  Walk left for 25 yards and scramble down the gully.  Walk north along the base of the cliffs (past the Big Enchilada's bolted routes) for approximately 250 yards and you are at the "Crack House".  DO NOT approach this area from above.  It would be necessary to cross private land to do so, which is a no-no.  When setting up topropes, use the gully on the far right end of the crag and try to stay on the lower bench area as much as possible.  Click here for a route guide.

NOTE: Be very careful to keep adequate distance from the FIRE HYDRANT, mail boxes, driveways, and the edge of the road, when parking. You must keep your tires off the road when you park. If you don't obey these rules, you may get a ticket. The local property owners demand legal enforcement. We are developing a bad reputation with them, which could haunt us for years to come.

 

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