That's right, Box Canyon just outside of Socorro, NM. Not a destination you say? Perhaps, but I have found myself there two other times in the past two decades, always on the recommendation of a good friend who is from there. On this particular trip not only was he there with me but the catalyst for the entire trip, more like I was there with him and two other homies from Cody. We had four days to see what the Box had to offer. Our quiver included three giant crashpads and associated bouldering hooha, such as chalkpots, a variety of brushes, speakers and Ipods, green chile beef jerky, etc. In addition, I insisted we bring sport climbing stuff, cause at the box, you can do either and they're both very good.
The trip down was a breeze. We drove through the night, taking 4 four-hour shifts and were there in time to get a full day in. We hit up the warmup blocs in the riverbed right near the parking area. We then marched up the hillside to the THC wall and another wall up and around the corner. Nearly everything I climbed on was cool and needless to say I overdid it and felt trashed by the end of the day.
We rounded the corner to the Pocket Change Wall to try the route of the same name. Dylan put the draws on in good style and 3 out of 4 of us flashed this quality route. After sampling one more easier 10 as a warm down we packed up and headed down to check out the Unbeatable boulder and several others down the drainage. No one had any skin or energy to muster much of anything but we all picked gems to work on the following day.
Day three brought more fantastic weather, sunny but cool. Bouldering was the agenda for the day and we headed to the unbeatable to warm up. This superb stone has a steep wave on one side and a perfectly vert side on another offering a variety of easier climbing and a few test pieces. We did the phenomenal arete Pressure Drop V1, and it took us all multiple goes to fire off Lion of Judea V3, a viciously sandbagged steep juggy roof. Dylans friend Jake was along with his wife and kids. Jake is somewhat of a legend in Socorro having pulled off a mile of non-stop traversing of the streambed boulder some fifteen years or more ago. He easily hiked Jah Lives given V7 but regarded as V10 nowadays. An impressively strong dude to say the least.
After the blood was flowing we ventured further down the drainage. I had my sights set on Rubber Walrus Protector and Tyler Durden Meets Tyler Durden. My friend Eric from Alberquerque was down with his son and wanted to try another random V4 on the left on the way down to RWP. We both whacked away at it and made slow progress to no avail and ultimately decided there were better fish to fry. We made our way to RWP where people were already starting to congregate. I watched a few goes which seemed like an eternity because I desperately wanted to try this climb but secretly hoped to flash it. This one of my favorite types of climbs, an upside down compression squeezy thing, including heel hooks, toe scums and lots of slapping. I sidled down under the beast to the starting holds, knowing the crux was in the first two moves and the rest would be easier. These moves revolve around a heel hook that keeps you from swinging around, and everything else is just straight on power. We had heard rumblings of V4 all the way to V8 but no one seemed to know for sure. I almost wish I had failed because watching the crew work out the details led me to believe this was surely a classic. It fully engaged everyone that tried it and there turned out to be multiple approaches to solving this striking boulder problem.
We had watched a crew the day before working this steep bulge on the downhill side of the Fight Club Boulder. The difficulties revolve around a single two finger pocket and sloping edge you get after launching out under its belly. It looked fun and powerful and from the looks of the group climbing on it, not too hard. Turns out those first couple moves were so difficult that every one in our group except Dylan and I resorted to an alternate sequence going up the side on crimps avoiding the pocket altogether. This just wouldn't do for me, being that the perfect two finger pocket is what drew me in to begin with, I had to do it that way. Perhaps the duality of solutions lent to the bipolar name of this cool problem: Tyler Durden Meets Tyler Durden V7.
After trying a few of the other Fight Club Boulder problems and getting bouted, I wandered up to Sofa King V4 to find Tom and Paul two other old friends of Dylans working the line. They were more than happy to give me some beta and I was psyched to flash it. Several other folks showed up and the pads were shifted to Dark Knight V6 and a line formed. This turned out to be another brilliant and engaging problem that seemed to take everyone a number of tries to solve, except for Jake who didn't fall or fail on anything all day long.
Day Four my friend Eric came back by himself to sport climb with me at Dirt Wall, and the rest of my crew wanted to see the streambed boulder, so we split up. Eric and I marched up to Fillet a Papillon aka: Dirt Wall, and I was happy to find routes very similar to the limestone I'm used to tugging on back home. We warmed up on New Kids 10+, then Eric moved the draws over to a short 12b called Little Caterpillar for me to try after another 5.11 to get fully warm. It went very well with two cruxy moves and the rest being straight forward enough to onsight. Pleased with that, I tried a longer 12b called Red Tag Sale, with a 5.11 mid-point anchor and was too pooped to continue past the first anchor. I finished with Dreadlock Holiday another good and long, although sharp 5.12a that baffled me two moves from the anchor.
All in all this was a great trip with good weather and the opportunity to climb everyday. We all climbed well considering climbing on real stone has been had at a premium lately. The laid back attitude of the locals combined with the killer NM style cuisine and availability of bouldering and sport climbing make this place a favorite for me. My only possible complaint was not visiting the Enchanted Tower though it was potentially snowed in and I wouldn't have traded any of the days I had in the Box.