Name's origin: Reed Cundiff "... and John Wells got caught in a hail storm doing this in 1962 or thereabouts." According to Reed, "We were rather prosaic in naming peaks and routes back then."
The summit of Hail Peak stands about 1000 feet in elevation below the Sandia Crest summit. The two are separated by a deep notch off the north end of Hail Peak. Generally speaking, Hail Peak resembles a giant fin with its length aligned roughly north-south and the highest point near the north end. The summit affords a unique and broad view of Domingo Baca Canyon and surrounding crags including Jaw Bone in the ~SE, Alioth in the ~NE, The Thumb in the ~NW, and Ego Boost in the ~W.
Given the location of Hail Peak, it may well be that any of several approaches are equivalent in terms of time off of maintained trails. The route of interest may be the deciding factor. General options include: down Echo Canyon from the junction of the La Luz Trail and the Crest Spur Trail; up Domingo Baca Canyon from Albuquerque; down TWA Canyon starting from somewhere in the final upper mile of the La Luz Trail; down a minor gully in a more direct line between Hail Peak and the La Luz Trail. See below for available approach details.
For any approach, use care around boulders. It may not be obvious that they are only precariously at rest. In fact, some are ankle breakers or worse as told by history. The area surrounding Hail Peak has had little foot traffic to define paths and settle things down.
This is not a complete list and could grow as first-hand information becomes available.
Echo Canyon to West Face - less than 2 hours
- Approach from the Crest parking lot as for the route Westron Wynde in Echo Canyon; see Sandia Rock by Mick Schein (2003, Sharp end Publishing) - this part generally stays on the skier's left side of the canyon. From Westron Wind, continue ~south a few minutes to a minor east-west gully. The route A Date With Death is at the top of this gully. Head pretty much straight down this gully (~west) into the heart of Echo Canyon.
- Continue down Echo Canyon (~south) on a path that tunnels through dense undergrowth and then gradually opens into a forested area near the lower extreme of Echo Canyon. Make a mental note of the forested area if returning this way. In mid-October of 2007, water was found seeping out of the ground at this point. Follow cairns to the southern edge of the forest.
- Once out of the main forest, you will hit a gully/ drainage just north of Hail Peak. Stay low as you traverse south and you will see a drainage in the canyon bottom where lies a couple car-sized rocks (one split down the middle) to the downhill side of a garage-sized rock; there is a six foot section of unexposed third class rock; this is about as technical as the approach gets.
- Continue on a faint path along open brushy slopes traveling roughly south. By now, there is an obvious viewing point that stands just off the middle of the west face of Hail Peak. With some ups and downs, the faint path reaches this viewing point."
East-West Path at Hail Peak's North End
- A surprisingly good path (presumably a wild animal trail) traverses east-west across the notch off the north end of Hail Peak. The west end of this path can be connected with the path up/down Echo Canyon (described above) at the relatively open forest around the bottom of Echo Canyon.
- If starting from the west end, hike up eastward and attain the notch; there is a path relatively close to the cliffs to the north. From the notch/saddle, hike about 50 feet uphill towards Hail Peak to gain a path that traverses to the climber's left. Continue on this good path past the narrow-gully start of the North Ramp Route. After traversing a total of a hundred yards or so on the easy path, the path will shortly cliff out unless you take a slightly earlier opportunity to drop down through scrub oak. Then continue bushwhacking down along the east side of Hail Peak.
- If starting from the east end to connect with and return up the Echo Canyon path then hike to the saddle at the north end of Hail Peak. Continue down hill to the west while skirting rock walls to the north. Skip the first large and obvious canyon that heads north (have not checked it out yet); take care to not turn uphill (~NE) too soon. The Echo Canyon path is likely farther down/west than expected.
Options for descending from Hail Peak summit - both are described in Mike Hill's "Hikers & Climbers Guide to the Sandias", 3rd edition:
West Face Rap
- Locate and descend the west face rap route; reportedly there are 2 raps and the longest rap is around 110 feet long; this rap route seems relatively obvious when viewed from the base of the west face although I have not done it. The descent ends a few minutes away from the viewing point of the Echo Canyon to West Face approach.
Rap/down-climb North Ramp Route
- At the summit, head north and negotiate a ~20 foot down climb. Not much further north along the ridge, a short fourth class down climb to the northeast leads to a tree with rap slings. Tree and slings are visible before this down climb. See description of this Photo for general location. Watch for loose rocks.
- At the rap tree, can do a 90' rap down to trees skiers left / center.
- Now scramble down from there until impassable, then one can go down at far skiers right until impassable and do one short rap from center; or might be able to scramble from skiers left.
- Last, a scramble down the gully rubble ends near the middle of the East-West Path at Hail Peak's North End.
2 Total Routes
['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',0],['2 Stars',2],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
Featured Route For Hail Peak
Poker 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a NM
: Sandia Mountains
: Hail Peak
This is the first of three Gary Hicks' routes I've done based strictly on Hill's guide - the others being Hail Peak's West Face Direct and Ego Boost's Diagonal. In all cases the detailed descriptions were quite accurate. Poker has four 5th class pitches as described in Mike Hill's guide. Quality of rock is good to excellent. Again, the route description in Mike Hill's guide is good although the 1st pitch warrants further explanation.Pitch 1 - Knowing the described 1st pitch w...[more] Browse More Classics in NM
Latest Regional Forum Messages
BETA PHOTO: Hail Peak location.
Matt, contemplating the west face of Hail Peak.
Top of an Adventure Day with Matt, circa 9/2007.
BETA PHOTO: Hail Peak approach beta.
BETA PHOTO: The ramp feature of the North Ramp Route of [[1060...
|By Reed Cundiff|
Sep 15, 2009
John Wells and I got caught in a hail storm doing this in 1962 or thereabouts. We were rather prosaic in naming peaks and routes back then.
|By Bill Lawry|
From: New Mexico
Sep 19, 2009
We went out there about 45 years afterwards when Mark Grazier and I did a counterclockwise circumnavigation of the peak. We got hailed on coming up the east side. The name sticks!