The early history of the Mountaineers
is closely linked to the era of discovery, exploration, adventure, and
misadventure in the Brazos Cliffs near Tierra Amarilla in northern New
Mexico. The cliff escarpment is about 3000 feet high and extends for
roughly 2 miles on the west side of the Brazos Box canyon and about 1
mile on the east side. The climbing routes on the main walls are roughly
2000 feet high and range in length from 10 to 17 pitches. So there are
literally several square miles of rock to explore, providing nearly
endless climbing possibilities. More history is
slideshow gives potential Brazos climbers a good idea of what to
expect from climbs on the beautiful pre-Cambrian quartzite.
The Main Brazos Cliffs as seen from the South
Aaron Miller via Mountain PROJECT).
Various members of the Los Alamos Mountaineers are occasionally
asked about access to the Brazos
Cliffs of Northern New Mexico, including such issues as the
availability of route guides, area contacts, and liability waivers.
The Mountaineers did indeed once have a responsible and
agreeable contact in the area, who provided a sign in sheet with a
waiver, and a handful of club provided route descriptions.
Unfortunately, he is no longer living. With his demise our one time connection to the cliffs
has been lost forever. The LAM Board, after considering these
issues on 5/31/06, has taken the following official stand on all
issues having to do with the
"LAM has no access to the
Brazos Cliffs. The LAM position to any inquiries in the
future should be a recommendation that climbers are climbing at
their own risk".
This doesn't mean
that you can't climb there. It simply means that LAM is in no way
an official conduit to grant or deny such activities. You are
on your own if you decide to climb there. Furthermore, LAM has
no Online Guide to the Brazos. However, an excellent online route guide
to the popular "Cat Burglar" climb resides
here on the
Mountain PROJECT website.
We have been told
that if you spend the night at
or Brazos Lodge and ask
their permission to climb, you will get it.
Note: Well known LAM Member
George Bell Sr. (now deceased) prepared an article on the Brazos
for the Colorado Mountain Club's Trail and Timberline publication.
The article, dated March 1972, is still the only published guide to
the Brazos. George provided an excellent description of the
cliffs and marked the routes known at that time, including the names
and dates of the first ascent parties. The article includes
pictures of the Main Cliffs, the Brazos Box area, and the Wedge.
If you can find a copy of this guide, you will be well prepared for
a great adventure in Northern New Mexico.