The swath of not-too-much between Amarillo and Albuquerque is not much to discuss, with the exception of some damn near perfect carnitas and green chile and a tourist trap or two. We came into ABQ and stopped off at the Stoneage climbing gym to drop off some prizes for the comp that was to take place over a couple of days, and, jonesing to climb on some real rock, we rocketed off to a nearby bouldering spot to make some moves on proper stone. What we found was, no joke, the worst crag I’ve ever visited.. Glue, Sika, epoxy, and unidentifiable resin. Graffiti, fire scars, chipped holds, and slick, sharp choss. Dirt on the starting footholds, and guano on the finishing jugs (where one drops off). Wow, ugh. Despite this, we did a couple problems on the.. oh yeah, it’s a cliff band.. On the plus, there were a couple three bolt, steep slab routes nearby I ended up bouldering. I’ll not name names- if you go you’ll know right away. Thankfully the approach was short.
Heading back to town, we caught the end of the qualifying rounds. The routes looked excellent, with interesting, thoughtful moves both powerful and technical. Huge volumes were suspended from the lead walls to add extra dimension; Ronnie and I were envious of the competitors. After the qualifiers were over, our snowballing posse went out for mexican food, where I was caught unawares with a six pound plate of food. It was a genuinely uncomfortable, but delicious and spicy endeavor.
The next day, we set out for Palomas to do some sport climbing, psyched out of our minds with the idea of limestone at 8000 feet. A nice drive into the hills brought us to the trailhead, and a pretty hike chuffed uphill in the rapidly increasing heat. With chins up, we forged on, sure we’d find some shade. We did Not. We found wasps. Thousands of them, in every pocket and crack in the baking stone.
Bad times: 2, Us: 0-ish.
We bailed for town with tails tucked to watch finals.. I’ve participated in very few comps, but I’ve watched a few.. I’m much more for the out-of-doors... HOWEVER: This comp was probably the best comp I’ve seen. The routes looked great, both women’s and men’s, and there were no real awkward issues with stopper moves or any of the other typical foibles that one might see. The DJ was awesome. Stone Age provided barbeque and drinks for everyone present. The cash prizes were big, the swag tossed and raffled was a real haul, and the organization was impeccable. Hats way off the the organizers, they really put on a world-class comp-- truly impressive, and a great time. The crowd was gret as well. Five Ten athlete and ABQ hometown hero John Cardwell took 1st with the mass screaming, and teammate Carlo Traversi came in second. A great showing for Five Ten..
As all packed off to celebrate, Ronnie and I sneaked out and headed north for the mountains around Durango, Colorado, where I started climbing. Cold temps are a-happening, and I still have a couple projects nearby.