Hit the road for Datil, New Mexico, otherwise known as Enchanted Tower. It is all that and more.
Every route was better than the one before it. And if one hand hold doesn't feel good, either you've got the wrong hold or the next one will be a jug. This is definitely a sport climber's paradise with steep faces everywhere you turn. All of the routes were very well protected and you can't beat the free camping.
Datil is this little town west of Socorro which you'd miss if you blinked. You may also miss the turn-off to E-Tower if you blink too. (We did!) But here's the key: if you are leaving Datil and heading northwest on highway 60, around mile-marker 72 you'll cross a low bridge, and then immediately there will be a dirt road veering off to the right. You'll be greeted by a large sign informing you that you are passing through private land. Keep driving through into the canyon. About 2 miles down on this dirt road, you'll be greeted by this great 110' spire on your right. That's where you stop and your jaw drops.
Camping is excellent...if you don't care about accommodations. Because there are none. This is land set aside by the government and although we're free to roam upon it, it is not a park. There are no restrooms, running water, organized campsites, etc. It is your responsibility to be a good steward. That means don't leave trash around, don't leave or bury your toilet paper, and if there's a fire ban, don't build a fire. While parks all over the US are shutting climbers out, this is a great place for us to climb unrestricted. In order for it to stay that way, we have to obey the rules. I'll get off my soap box now. There is a campsite nearby called Datil Wells Campground which you will pass on your way from Datil if you feel to need to fill up on water.
Where do I begin? You gotta do the Tower. Period. The routes are steep, long, and therefore pumpy. So train your butt off if you intend to on-site some routes on the Tower. But say you're not such master climber. That's okay, because really the tower is only about 20 percent of the climbing there.
The rock is a type of volcanic tuft. This means lots of pockets, jugs, jugs, and more jugs. It also has great texture for friction. As I said before, the routes are very well bolted. The few run-outs we found were very high up and through easy 5.10 sections.Some of our favorite routes include:
On the Sleeping Beauty Wall: Sleeping Beauty (11d), Glass Coffin (11b), and Poison Apple (11b). This slightly overhung wall offered great pockets requiring more grace than grunt. A welcome change from the super-steep tower.
The Tower: Jabberwocky (12b), Rumplestiltskin (11d), Once Upon a Time (11c), Technowitch (12a). All of these routes are absolute classics. Move for move they may not be all that hard, but to maintain that level of power endurance was no cruise for us.
Frog Prince: a.k.a. Babies (12a)
Pogue's Cave: Ooey Gooey (11a) Probably a 10b, but still fun.
There are far more high quality routes other than these, but in our two day visit, these were some highlights. There was not a single route that disappointed me; every one was fun and even more so challenging.
Rock Climbing New Mexico and Texas by Dennis R. Jackson, Falcon Press