Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain
Javiar Santos makes his way down from an ascent at The Box Comp.

A festival atmosphere existed at The Box on Nov. 4 as New Mexico Tech hosted the 2023 Box Comp at the popular climbing spot.

It was the kind of takeaway Miners’ climbing coach Scott Roberts was hoping people would be telling their friends about

“I hope that they’re having fun and being safe. I mean, that’s a big one. I hope they are getting to meet a lot of people from around the state and getting to enjoy the box, which is a fantastic area,” Roberts said. “Depending on how much they climb or don’t climb, hopefully, you know, they’re kind of getting their head wrapped around what we’re doing out here and getting stoked to start climbing.”

While rock climbing has been a part of the New Mexico Tech tradition for more than 50 years, it’s only been since 2012 that an actual “team” was formed, and as Roberts describes it, the “ideal” form of a team came about in 2018.

The Miners’ team was the last to leave the “north box,” the large boulder they were free climbing is known in the climber’s community as the “Shattered Bottle.” Their “bouldering” is free of ropes, heavy thick pads lay below the routes they are climbing, and the falls are just part of the practice.

There’s a constant positive mindset among the climbers who encourage each other as they try different techniques and places to attempt their ascent.
Mason Broten, a biomedical science major, has been climbing for about 18 months, and he enjoys the sport and camaraderie.

“There’s a lot of joking around and keeping people positive, lots of tips and feedback and stuff to try to get a move,” Broten said.

Broten is long and lean, while his coach is wider-bodied and shorter. Depending on what they are attempting, one technique might work for one climber but not for another.

Mason and I were talking about strategy. My way probably isn’t as great for him because he’s taller. So that’s something we’ll discuss — it’s real, positive. How do we get our homies up the same thing, which will rarely be the same way,” Roberts said.
The boulder the Miners are working on requires them to be on its underside as they work their way up. Its fingertip grips and toes into any aperture that will give a climber a grip. There are no ropes, but there is padding below if one slips.

It’s a different story on The Box’s south end, where teams are amid “competitors sport climbing,” which consists of ropes, anchors, and belays from the bottom of a sheer rock face. From the nearby parking lot, the climbers can’t be seen until they rise above the level of cedar trees, but when they do appear, they are specks of color against the mountain.

Once a climber gets appropriately outfitted for their sport, the main cost starts being food and the fuel it takes to get to your next adventure, as NM Tech junior Noah Fry explains.

“The equipment is helpful, but it’s not everything. You don’t need a ton of equipment to start. It’s just all about your mindset. If you’re okay with being alone and working on a problem for a while, it’s an outstanding sport,” Fry explains.

While the NM Tech Miners are a climbing team, they are also a club on the school’s campus and welcome those over 18 to check out the sport. The Box Comp is a breakaway from the ordinary for the Miners squad because the team generally competes indoors and has an on-campus practice facility that is open to the public.

If you’d like to learn more about the Miners’ bouldering wall, check it out at

Russell Huffman, El Defensor Chieftain Asst. Editor