Bernard M.E. Moret

May 1, 2003

In loving memory of my dear friend and climbing partner

Jane Tennessen (1962-1996)

who died on Warpy Moople in the Sandias on June 23, 1996

There are three on-line versions of this guide: If you are in the Albuquerque area, you can buy a printed version that includes both topos and some selected photos, all bound together in a convenient format for taking to the crag. This printed guide is usually available at the local climbing gym and pro shop, Stone Age Climbing Gym, just west of I-25 at Comanche, an outstanding facility run by Bryan Pletta, as well as at the two other stores that sell climbing equipment, Mountains and Rivers on Central Avenue by the University and REI by I-25 and Montano Road.

You are welcome to copy any version of this guide for your personal use or that of your friends. You may not, however, copy parts or all of any version of this guide for profit. If you want to place a copy of one of the on-line versions on your Web site, you must accompany it with an acknowledgment and a link to this Web site.

News and Updates

September 2004:
Long time, no news... I have not had much of a chance to climb in the spring and the summer was very hot, again with closures. Finally got back to my favorite crag this month and spied out at least four new lines, which I will bolt as time allows (so don't hold your breath!). One is an easy (5.6) route at the end of the crag (after WYSIWYG), one is a long diagonal line (probably going at 10-) just a bit before Floating on Moonbeams, one is a short and tricky slab just before that (going at 5.11b, reminiscent of Walking on Sunshine and about the same length), and one is a great slab/arete to the right of Pocket Princess, going at 5.11+ (but the top block will have to go, as it looks ready to come down on anyone unlucky enough to pull on it). Should any reader want to bolt any of these lines herself, please be my guest.

May 2003:
A new climb: Krister Swenson and I bolted that line mentioned in the April news. I called it Serpentine; 5 bolts, closed shut anchors (also useable, indeed originally intended, for the crack), going at an easy 5.11b. Closely bolted at the bottom on a delicate traverse along the bottom of the face to the arete, then two more bolts to the top, with great clip stances, but (unusual for Palomas and for the climbs I put up) a good 9-10ft from 3rd to 4th (easy), 4th to 5th (the second crux just is as you pass the 4th bolt), and 5th to anchors (very easy).

April 2003:
Just did (on toprope) the arete right of the crack between Jane's Addiction and Midnight Rider. I'll just have to bolt that one: a super fun 5.11a, with a tricky traverse above the choss right to the arete and then another short crux on the arete itself before returning left to the face for a great (if easy) slab finish. Anchors (for the crack) are already in place and usable for the face/arete route as well.

March 2003:
Not a really wet winter, but better than some; Palomas looks good now, but will dry out quickly in April/May/June. Take advantage of climbing there while it's open...

Fall 2002:
Not much news, other than another fire closure; let us hope for a good snow season. At least Palomas is not being as affected by the drought and bark beetles as the forests around Los Alamos -- driving to the Mesa is a heart-wrenching sight this fall.

January 7, 2002
This humble guide was selected as site of the week by Climber Online!

January 1, 2002
A cold, but dry winter so far; the rock is dry at Palomas, the access easy -- no snow to speak of. Just make sure to dress warmly if you go and remember that the sun will not hit the climbs until late morning.

November 11, 2001
We (Debi Evans, Mark Ondrias, and I) finally bolted the direct line to the anchors of Factory Direct, naming the new route (5.11b, 4 bolts) Middleman. I had toproped that line several times and found it a lot of fun, but it could not be protected in the cleft and so could not be led unless bolted. Now it's done and well worth it!

November 2001
Thanks to an unknown party (but most likely Mark Thomas) for excellent trailwork -- note how the yuccas all have neatly trimmed tips to avoid spearing hikers and how the gambel oak has been well pruned to leave a trail of pleasing uniform width.

July 7, 2001
One new climb: Floating on Moonbeams, a sweet 5.9+ (4 bolts, rap hanger anchors) immediately to the right of Walking on Sunshine, following the dihedral. Mostly 5.8, with a 5.9+ start and a couple of tricky moves to get past the 4th bolt -- don't overlook the jug on the face about 2ft below the anchors. Put up by Deborah Evans, Bernard Moret, and Mark Ondrias in memory of T. Sean Elicker, student, friend, and climbing partner, killed in a bicycle accident.

June 3, 2001
One new climb: Walking on Sunshine, a short, but sweet 5.11b smearing climb with some tricky sidepulls. Just before Calamity Jane, with two distinctive small pine trees growing on the face. The route goes left of the two small trees. Cruxes are moving from the 2nd to the 3rd bolt and again from the 4th bolt to the chains -- sunshine is about all you'll get for feet! Put up by Deborah Evans, Bernard Moret, and Mark Ondrias in memory of T. Sean Elicker.

June 3, 2001
Rerating In Pain for Jane: too bad the hard part is so short (essentially a very thin boulder problem), because it sure is nice! The climb is solid 5.12b, with the crux moves made on tiny sharp (or small and rounded...) edges with very poor feet, finishing with a dyno from small crimpers to a bucket on the right of the third bolt. I just have to give it a 4...
The left variation is easier than originally advertised, going at the same rating of 12b. However, the move from the first lip to the high holds is really desperate if you are 5'8" or less -- I would guess the rating goes up by at least two letter grades; for that matter, the move to the lip is serious work if you have less than a 6' reach.

June 30, 2000
The rangers have reopened the national forests in New Mexico. The Sandia range is open again (you can once again climb at Palomas); the Santa Fe forest is also open, so you can also climb at Cochiti Mesa, Cactus Cliff, and El Rito. Fire restrictions remain in effect -- no open fires, no smoking, extreme care in parking cars with hot engines, etc. Be sure to check with your local ranger station before going somewhere -- we are not out of trouble yet! Keep praying for rain...

May 2000
Palomas is closed because of extreme fire risk. All of the Sandias are closed for the same reason, as are almost all northern New Mexico climbing areas (Los Alamos, Cochiti Mesa, El Rito). Basically, Carson National Forest, Santa Fe National Forest, and Cibola National Forest are closed. Respect the closure -- too much of New Mexico has already gone up in flames and we are not even close to monsoon season yet... Rangers will impose fines of up to $5,000.- on trespassers.
Where to climb? Check with local authorities or at least with your local gym or shop; for now it looks like the Whiterock areas, Diablo Canyon, Socorro, and Sitting Bull Falls remain open (perhaps also Datil -- I don't know). Also a good time to patronize your local gym (which is air-conditioned!).
In any case, pray for rain!

June 1999
One new climb: Surf Boy and the Shrimp, 5.11d, my third memorial climb for Jane Tennessen, put up with Deborah Evans on June 23, 1999. (The others are Blonde Ambition, put up June 23, 1997 with Deborah Evans, and Pocket Princess, put up June 23, 1998 with Mark Ondrias.) You'll like it: left arete, blank face, easier as it goes, closely bolted in the crux section.

May 1999
Rerating Put Up Wet: a much better climb than it would seem, with stemming, jamming, face climbing, and liebacking, but much stiffer than the grade given in the guidebook and pretty scary -- the good pro runs out after the jam crack, so that you are a long way above your last pro when you finally reach the second bolt. I'd rate it 11c/d and give it a 4 for the quality of the climb, but qualify it with a strong warning about the pro.

Rerating RIP: several small edges broke on the second half of the climb, pushing the rating into 12 territory; use the straight-up variation instead (an honest 11d/12a) -- it should have one more bolt, but you can still use the original bolts, with only the last clip feeling a bit too far right (the upper face is much easier than the lower one).

Rerating Factory Direct: as a crimp climb, this is in fact a pretty good route -- it's only if you use open-handed grips that you'll suffer. The crimps are large and easy, making this an ideal training climb for harder problems. The difficulty rating is correct (the crux is the start), but I would now rate the climb a 3. The direct line to the anchors is indeed 11b, again with the crux at the start -- a fun roof problem; it needs bolting, as the rock in the shallow vee is too crumbly to hold protection.

Rerating Knee Jerk Reaction: actually a very nice route! I moved it from a 2 to a 4. A pump fest, but with technical problems along the way, similar in many ways to the local favorite Rode Hard. Try it! (BTW, it has 8, not 7 bolts.)

Some thief recently stole the bottom two hangers of Pocket Princess. I replaced them. This is perhaps the fourth or fifth such incident at Palomas; in all cases, the removed hangers are on bottom sections of climbs within easy range of a crack. So, if the thief is reading this: even if you are a radical trad climber, consider that Palomas is mostly a sports area and that most climbers come to the cliff with quickdraws, but not with protection pieces. Further consider that these climbs (on the Franks and Pocket Princess) cannot be led just on gear, since the higher sections have no pro placements. Consider that many sports climbers are not skilled at placing gear and may feel no urge to learn. Finally consider that you can always choose not to use a bolt when it is present, but its removal denies any choice to sports climbers and effectively prevents them from enjoying the route. (Lastly, of course, consider that you are indeed stealing from the people who put up the climb...) Thus leave the bolted lines alone. Pure crack climbs have been left unbolted (except for the convenience of lowering anchors) by common consensus -- let's not start a bolt war at Palomas! Unlike other areas of the country, we still have a trad "paradise" on the front face of the Sandias, with more routes than one could do in a lifetime and protected against overbolting by the wilderness designation (assuming it does not get overprotected by the next ruling of the Forest Service).