This excellent crag offers numerous stellar 3 pitch slab climbs. The most classic route is Revenge Of the Elderly, but it seems that all of the routes here are excellent, featuring perhaps the best stone in the Sandias.
Climbs can be a bit runout in spots, and vegetation is common on the less popular lines. Despite its North facing aspect, this crag does get sun in the summer months. All routes are gear protected, though a few lines offer the occasional bolt. This is slab paradise, so polish your footwork and dust off the RPs before trying the harder lines.
All routes require a rappel descent.
As for all Sandia crags, the approach can be traumatic the first time out. Once dialed, however, it should only take 30 minutes.
Begin at the La Cueva picnic ground. From the outhouse, walk 50 feet south on the paved road to the first parking space on the E side of the road. Pick up a trail heading E from the parking space. This trail joins the "Tramway Trail" after 200 yds. Head N (left) on the Tramway Trail for about 200yds. Just before the trail enters the La Cueva Canyon river bottom, there is a brown wooden post on the left that identifies the Tramway Trail. Head E at this junction on a good trail into La Cueva Canyon. You will cross numerous slabs, but stay on the S (rt) side of the river for the first 5 minutes or so. The trail is always good, so you shouldn't be bushwhacking, but occasionally the trail disappears as it crosses open slabs.
Eventually the trail crosses the river. Continue on the N side of the river to a point where many large boulders have recently fallen to the canyon bottom. At this point some easy scrambling over boulders is required. At the top of this talus field, Flake n Bake will appear on the left (N). Continue E another 50 feet, along the N side of the creek, then follow the canyon as it snakes hard to the left (N). After heading N for 50 feet, the trail heads back toward the creek through thick brush. Duck under a massive boulder and cross the crick (if you were born near Datil, or creek if you were born elsewhere). You are now on the E side of the creek. Head S for 10 feet, then turn back to the E and head up a small slab. Traverse right along the top of the slab, then pick up a steep but good climbers trail that switches back up the rounded ridge. Continue towards the "Aid Boulder" (see photo) -- a steep short overhanging boulder with some old aid relics and bolts. Once at the boulder, traverse E below the Gemstone slabs. There are many route-finding options here. To reach Gemstone Slabs East, cross under the Gemstone Slabs West area, and continue another 50 yds up canyon.
5 Total Routes
['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',4],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
Browse More Classics in Gemstone East
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Gemstone East:
Opal 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
PG13 Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, 260'
Surf Naked 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, 300'
Emerald City 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad, Alpine, 2 pitches, 280'
Featured Route For Gemstone East
Sapphire 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a NM
: Sandia Mountains
: ... : Gemstone East
Sapphire is a variation to pitch 2 of Emerald City, to its right. It's perhaps slightly easier, less classic, and more runout than Emerald City, but is on good rock and is certainly worth doing if 5.9 La Cueva slabs are your thing.The first pitch is shared with Emerald City, and pulls through the right side of a square roof, then gains easier slabs as you aim to pass just right of a small tree. A piton-protected tricky thin crux (rated 5.8+) comprises the last moves on th...[more] Browse More Classics in NM
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