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North America, United States, New Mexico, Brazos Cliffs, White Couloir Route

Brazos Cliffs, White Couloir Route. This spectacular quartzite face rises some 2000 feet above the Brazos River in northern New Mexico. Several routes have been pioneered by George Bell and others, but large sections of the five-mile-long cliffs remain untouched. A new route, climbed on October 8 by George Bell, my wife Alice, Mike Williams and me, begins in the white-faced gully just west of the Great Couloir. Two routes were followed up the lower 400 feet. The White Couloir proper begins with two moderate pitches up the left side, then crosses the gully into a series of steep, tree-covered ledges. Three pitches follow, terminating in a jam-crack between a large flake and the wall. From here a scramble leads into the first bowl. The variation starts just left of the gully and follows easy cracks for two pitches after which it moves onto the gully’s western rim. Face climbing follows to an awkward and poorly protected traverse, after which easier pitches above finally rejoin the first route at the bowl. Above this, the route works toward the east ridge crest on moderate rock followed by mixed fourth and fifth class climbing up a steep ramp which terminates just below the head of the Great Couloir. Easy scrambling follows to the top of the normal finish of the Great Couloir route. 13 pitches; Grade II, 5.4 to 5.5.

Donald S. Liska