OverviewThe Checkerboard Wall is a huge east facing wall, around 500' at its highest point, and more than twice as wide. There are many enticing vertical and horizontal crack systems that give the wall its checkered appearance.
Getting ThereFrom I-25 in Las Cruces, take US Hwy 70 East for about 3.5 miles. Take the Mesa Grande exit and use the far left (U-turn) lane. Make the U-turn underneath the highway and head West on the frontage road. Turn right on N. Jornada Rd after about 0.75 miles. Follow Jornada (from asphalt to grated gravel) until you reach a barbed wire fence with a dirt road heading West on the South side of the fence. Take the dirt road West. High clearance is not required, but there will be a few interesting sections so a pickup/SUV type vehicle is suggested. Follow the road until it reaches the power line road, and turn right. This road is a bit rougher. Continue North until you see an old concrete structure on the left. Turn left at the next dirt road (the Checkerboard Wall is pretty much on your left at this point) and follow it to a small parking area. A well used climbers trail guides you to the base of the cliff and takes about 20 minutes to hike the approach. The start is just to the right of the slab at the beginning of Cross-Trainer past the large bushes.
Pitch 1: Start from the right of the slab at the beginning of Cross-trainer. Belay from a cozy corner behind a sotol. Step left onto the slab. Continue up over a slabby section, a short, nearly vertical corner, and another slabby section to a vegetated ledge (This ledge is shared with Cross-trainer, but it is not as wide here). On the next bulge stay right either on it or just below it. In either case continue up the ramp on the right side of the bulge to a somewhat flatter area with a small rock horn. This location can be reached by scrambling from the trail below, skipping Pitch 1.
Pitch 2: Continue straight up on a section of slab delineated on both sides by deep vertical cracks. The terrain will gradually steepen. This is the crux of the route. Avoid the roof above by heading left to a sotol and the hollow behind it. If you want to keep a close eye on your second through the crux, you may belay from here. Go up and right past the Pitch-3 belay of Cross-trainer (or middle of Pitch 2, if you are doing Cross-trainer in 4 pitches total). Get farther right as you move upward and continue up past the chock at the top of the vertical crack onto a ramp with two yucca plants and from there to the bolted Checkmate anchor with webbing on it.
Pitch 3: Head left following the top of a flake then up along a crack to a vegetated ledge (continuation of the Lunch Ledge of Cross-trainer). Go up the occasionally broken slab to a very large loose block with a suggestion of a ledge to its right. Variations exist here. I went pretty much straight up going between the dead sotol and the yucca and then left of the bush.
Pitch 4: Go up and slightly to the right over a wavy ground. Protect under the overhang and climb up the step on your right onto a ledge. Walk on the ledge to the right past a couple of sotol plants. Continue up an easy slab to the boulders above.
The route is sandwiched between Cross-trainer and Checkmate, but it does not follow either of those routes. The exit at the top is the same as for Punch in the Nose.
Essential GearStandard rack with cams up to #4 Camalot. If you take #5, you'll place that too, repeatedly. Only Pitch 2 has a bolted anchor.
There are frequent opportunities throughout to bail to a fully bolted route (Cross-trainer) by heading left. To back off from the crux, however, look to your right into the crack. There is a piece of old webbing around a chock there.