The bouldering in Roy has been getting a ton of attention from the front range lately and it's easy to see why. With a relatively easy and short drive (4.5 hours), Roy offers an escape from the snowy and cold foothills of Boulder. Temps seem consistently in the upper 40's to low 60's all winter long with enough variety to chase either sun or shade depending on the day.
We had a three day weekend approaching and after spending the last two months in the gym we were really itching to hop in the van and get outside somewhere. We had not been to Roy yet, despite buying the guidebook for the area more than a year ago, the weather forecast for Roy looked perfect, and a storm was brewing on the front range. So we piled into Juno and headed south for our first Roy trip.
The guidebook mentions that you would never believe there are boulders in this area until you actually see them, and they weren't exaggerating. From the North, the boulders of Roy are accessed first by driving through the tiny town of Springer. The bouldering in Roy is often compared to Joe's Valley, I don't entirely agree, but Springer did feel very much like the New Mexico version Orangeville, UT to me. A few miles out of town, you have a 45 minute drive on some well maintained dirt roads that take you through the flat and expansive Kiowa National Grasslands. You really don't have any sense of there being climbing in the area until you reach the very edge of Mills/Mesteño canyon, but when you reach the edge, the boulders are very obvious and very big.
We had three days to climb and spent two in the Lower Jumbles of Middle Mesteño. This area has a collection of high quality boulders grouped very close together and is a must visit for any first timers to Roy. This trip was not so much about projecting hard boulders but about climbing as many classic boulders as possible. The Lower Jumbles were perfect for this goal as there are a ton of classic, fun, boulders in the v4-v8 range.
It had been two years since we last took a bouldering specific road trip and I went a little too overstoker on the first day, hoping from one boulder to the next as fast as possible for the next 7 hours. The rock is so good and the slopey, compression nature of many of the problems suite my style perfectly. The finely textured pinches and slopers absolutely destroyed my soft gym skin, but I couldn't stop and there were so many good problems in the small area that we knew we wanted to come back for another day.
After a more restrained second day in the Lower Jumbles, we had managed to climb most of the classics that we could do quickly. The hard boulders look just as good as the moderates and will definitely warrant another trip back just to focus on the harder lines.
The nights were windy and cold and with a fire ban for the whole area, we passed the long evenings hanging out in Juno, telling stories and eating food. The first night was very cloudy but the second night brought a crystal clear sky and a treated us to an amazing light show of stars, we both agreed that they were the best and most vivid we had ever seen.
On our third and last day, we wanted to check out a different area and headed out to Upper Mesteño, which is most known for its roof areas. We had been warned that the roof rock quality was not as good as some of the other areas but were pleasantly surprised to find that most of the lines were on really solid rock. The climbing in the caves are on dead horizontal roofs with really fun, gym-like movements, through jugs and deep pockets, a perfect little power-endurance training area. We climbed as much as our aching muscles and skin would allow before a short rain storm moved through and sent us packing up and heading back home to Boulder.
Overall we were all really impressed with the area! There are a tons of boulders still to climb and two or three areas that we didn't even check out. Development is still on going. New high quality boulders are going in quickly that will make Roy a classic and mostly likely a very popular area in the years to come. The area is sensitive and at this point not really setup for a large user group. Visitors should come prepared with wag bags if primitive camping near the climbing approaches or camp at the nearby Mills Canyon Rim BLM Campground (Toilet!). The area is very dry, very windy (a bad combination for campfires) and currently under a fire ban, so leave the firewood at home!