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Sandia Mountains

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Chimney Canyon 
Domingo Baca Canyon, Lower 
Echo Canyon 
Hail Peak 
Juan Tabo Canyon 
La Cueva Canyon, Lower 
La Cueva Canyon, Upper 
Pinnacle Valley 
Pino Wall & Jawbone 
Stuck Nut Crag 
TV Station, The 
TWA Canyon 

Rest Day:
Nearby Mountain Bike Rides

South Sky Mountain Trail
A singletrack off Forest Loop Road. Near Bernalillo, NM
Cattle Fence Trail
One of the many trails in the 7 mile loop road area. Near Bernalillo, NM
Jeebs Line
A loop through the flowiest sections of the Placitas Area Trails. Near Placitas, NM
FOO loop
A narrow trail that contours along the hillsides. Near Albuquerque, NM
Foothills Trail 365 North
A nice singletrack through the lower potion of the Sandia Foothills. Near Albuquerque, NM
North Foothills, Elena Gallegos Main Loop
The main loop in the North Foothills area with options to lengthen or shorten the ride. Near Albuquerque, NM
From MP's sister site: MTB Project

Sandia Mountains 


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Elevation: 10,678'
Location: 35.2106, -106.45 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 621,931
Administrators: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Anthony Stout on Jan 20, 2006
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La Luz trail with ice cyrstals on camera lense

Description 

Because of the approaches to the climbing areas here, you will typically find solitude while climbing in the Sandias. Due to high elevation and nature of these mountains, conditions can vary. While one can climb at any time of the year, the best time seems to be between May through October. West and Southwest facing walls, such as Muralla Grande, can be warm and dry even on winter days. Watch for thunderstorms during the summer months.


Getting There 

The majority of the climbs are accessed from the Sandia Crest, though some are approached from the foothills of Albuquerque (these directions will be give in the appropriate sections):

- Starting from Albuquerque, take I-40 east through Tijeras Canyon, exiting on the Tijeras exit (exit 175).
- North on highway 14 for 6.8 miles
- Turn left on NM 536 (follow signs to Sandia Mountain Ski area), and follow this road for about 14 miles, past the ski area, and finally to the Sandia Crest.

Getting to the different climbing areas:

Approach times and difficulties vary depending on where you are going. Directions will be given in the appropriate sections.

WARNING: Approaches can be DIFFICULT, as in both strenuous and difficult to find. It's not difficult to get lost in this area. Should anyone following directions posted on Mountain Project end up lost, feedback on the directions in order to make them more accurate is appreciated.


Resources: 

- Sandia Rock by Mick Schein (2013, Sharp End Publishing)
- Rock Climbing New Mexico by Dennis R. Jackson (2006, Falcon Press)
- Hikers and Climbers Guide to the Sandias by Mike Hill (1993, Coyote Books)


249 Total Routes


['4 Stars',21],['3 Stars',112],['2 Stars',91],['1 Star',24],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',23],['5.7',28],['5.8',39],['5.9',38],['5.10',49],['5.11',40],['5.12',20],['5.13',4],['>=5.14',1],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',2],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',1],['V8-9',1],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',2],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Sandia Mountains:
Knife Edge   Easy 5th 1+ 3 I M 1c     Trad, Alpine, 900'   Juan Tabo Canyon : Shield
Northwest Ridge   5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a     Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, 1000'   La Cueva Canyon, Upper : The Thumb
The Second Coming   5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches   Chimney Canyon : Muralla Grande
Estrellita   5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 1 pitch, 110'   La Cueva Canyon, Upper : Estrellita
Southwest Ridge   5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c PG13     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1300'   Juan Tabo Canyon : The Needle
Aviary Ort Overhangs   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches   La Cueva Canyon, Upper : The Thumb
Bush Shark Spire   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 2 pitches, 200'   Echo Canyon : Bush Shark Area
Warpy Moople   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a R     Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 800'   Chimney Canyon : Muralla Grande
Excitable Boys   5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a     Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 700'   Chimney Canyon : Muralla Grande
Yucca Flower Tower   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches   Echo Canyon : Yucca Flower Tower
Rawhide   5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 2 pitches, 300'   Echo Canyon : Yucca Flower Tower
Great Escape   5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 1 pitch, 100'   Echo Canyon : Yucca Flower Tower
Mountain Momma   5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches   La Cueva Canyon, Upper : Torreon
Little Yellow Jacket   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c     Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 580'   Chimney Canyon : Muralla Grande
Purple Haze    5.11b 6c 23 VIII- E3 5c A4+ R     Trad, Aid, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1000'   Juan Tabo Canyon : Shield
Wizard of Air   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 600'   La Cueva Canyon, Upper : Torreon
Autumn Ivy   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Trad, Alpine, 1 pitch, 100'   Chimney Canyon : Clandestine Wall
The Sorcerer   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ E5 6b PG13     Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, 600'   La Cueva Canyon, Upper : Torreon
Cat Daddy   5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ E7 6c     Trad, Alpine, 1 pitch, 90'   Chimney Canyon : Clandestine Wall
Event Horizon   5.14- 8b+ 32 X+ E8 7a     Sport, Alpine, 1 pitch, 95'   Chimney Canyon : Clandestine Wall
Browse More Classics in Sandia Mountains

Featured Route For Sandia Mountains
approximate route. Yucca Flower Tower can be seen at pics right side.

Bush Shark Spire 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a  NM : Sandia Mountains : ... : Bush Shark Area
Like the Candle in Chimney Canyon, this route leads to one of the few spire summits in the Sandias. An interesting route with a good hand crack on P1, the second pitch contains the routes crux which occurs right off the belay. The climb ends at a bolted anchor just short of the spires summit. A short section of class 3 scrambling can be done to top out on the summit. P1: (90’) Starts at the spire’s west face, underneath a large roof. Follow a good hand crack broken up with intermittent ledg...[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

Photos of Sandia Mountains Slideshow Add Photo
Tyrolean traverse "Cake and the Candle"
Tyrolean traverse "Cake and the Candle"
Looking out to Albuquerque from The Sandias on a beautiful fall like summer day.
Looking out to Albuquerque from The Sandias on a b...
The Sentinel and The Thumb, taken just before dropping into Chimney Canyon.
The Sentinel and The Thumb, taken just before drop...
Upper La Cueva Canyon on 28 April 2007
BETA PHOTO: Upper La Cueva Canyon on 28 April 2007
Old La Luz trail after a storm
Old La Luz trail after a storm
Sunset in the Sandias
Sunset in the Sandias
Sandia Mountains from the Foothills.
Sandia Mountains from the Foothills.
Comments on Sandia Mountains Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 28, 2014
By Karl Kiser
Apr 29, 2006

One might want to check out the download from Sharp End Publishing. It shows the introduction to Mick Schein's "Sandia Rock" (2003)

www.sharpendbooks.com/pdfs/sandia.pdf

By James Garrett
Jan 28, 2007

I just recently got a copy of the Jackon Guide to New Mexico Climbing. I have climbed Tooth Or Consequences in the Organs (really enjoyed it!), but I am embarrassed to say I have never been to the Sandias...they look amazing. Long Adventure routes on quality rock and generally well protected with year round access and weather...or is that a neophyte's misconception? I'd love to go there, but first get the skinny from locals. It seems odd that NM doesn't seem to get the publicity that Utah or Colorado climbs do for "intermountain west", but, anyway.... are the bolts on the long routes being replaced by new and improved 21st century quality beef? Specifically, I am keen to do some of the long routes on the Shield.
thanks....

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Jan 30, 2007

"quality rock and generally well protected "

That's hilarious! You made my day!

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Apr 19, 2007

Anyone made the journey to the Windward Wall? looks sweet in the guidebook, but perhaps a bit difficult to find.

How about the Watchtower?

By Chuck McQuade
From: Golden, CO
Apr 20, 2007

The approach for science friction/windward walls aren't too bad. Approach via the crest, from the La Luz junction (Echo canyon meets upper La Cueva canyon) hike/scramble west sticking to the ridge line. There is a rap station (somewhat hidden) facing SW. Thus these crags get pretty good sun-exposure. If you pass the rap station no worries you cant continue too much further the line ends. The first rap gets you to the base of the upper tier crag. A second station after a scramble north gets you to the base of the lower tier.

By Steven VanSickle
From: Ouray, Co
Oct 8, 2007

What does a Sandia rack consist of?

By Anthony Stout
Administrator
From: Albuquerque, NM
Oct 8, 2007

My standard rack for anything in the Sandia's typically consists of doubles (camalots) from 0.3 to #2 with one #3, a few smaller cams (C3s), a full set of nuts, and 10 slings. Slings are important because so many routes wander, though you could probably get away with less than ten on most routes with some quick draws (I don't have to extend all of them but I do end up slinging most of my pieces). If the route description ever recommends bringing any pieces larger, I typically do.

Hope that is helpful.

By Steven VanSickle
From: Ouray, Co
Dec 4, 2007

Does anyone have beta for a supposed tyrolean traverse. Between the cake and the candle?

By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Feb 22, 2008

Can anyone comment on a) current snow conditions and b) the temperatures to expect up on the rocks, if Albuquerque is forecast for low 60s and sunny (as later next week)? Specific routes I am considering are the Thumb and Needle ridge climbs, and Procrastination on the Shield. Thanks!

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Feb 22, 2008

I haven't been up there this season, but I can see a lot of snow up there from my house. In fact, we got another ~1/2 an inch Wednesday night (at my house). I would guess the approach to any of those 3 routes would be pretty heinous, but the rock would be relatively snow free.

By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Aug 13, 2008

An older but enjoyable read about the Sandias by local climber Josh Smith is online at Climbing

By Steven VanSickle
From: Ouray, Co
Oct 24, 2008

Does anyone know of any chimney pitches?

By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Oct 24, 2008

The only thing I've been on in the Sandias that is close is P6 on Excitable Boys and it really isn't much at all. Long way to go for it. Granted, I haven't climbed much in the Sandias and generally avoid OW and chimneys.
If you're looking for some serious grunting in Northern NM, Airbus would likely be right up your alley. :-)

By Steven VanSickle
From: Ouray, Co
Oct 26, 2008

Mike Roybal... what do you think the aid on the south face of the chimney goes at? I hiked up to the base and thought it looked really really thin. Any idea? Also does anyone know what the brand new bolt about a pitch up the west face of the chimney is for, tried to lead past it but it was caked in lichen.

By John Kear
From: Albuquerque, NM
Nov 4, 2008

In answer to Steve's inquiry about the new bolt on the west face of the Chimney; The route is called Smoke on the Horizon II 5.11b. I climbed the route for the first time in 02 or 03 without the bolt and didn't climb it clean then. I went back with Allen Aiken in the summer of 04 and put in the bolt and tried to clean the route up a little but it struck me as too scruffy to become something many people would want to do, but it has been freed cleanly. I never got around to telling many people about it or posting it. If some one put in some anchors at the summit and rapped in and cleaned the line it would turn out to be a decent 2-3 pitch route on the Chimney. I just haven't gotten back to it as yet.

By Clark Gray
Dec 9, 2008

Steve; As for the South face of the chimney the aid consisted of RURPS, tied off knife blades an very small wired chocks and the old copper mashies. above the overhang it goes all free (A3, A4)

As for chimney routes hoys Chimney on the west side of the needle is about the longest chimney route in the Sandias. It ends up on the Southwest ridge right before you get to the fifth avenue level. It's not very hard but pretty fun.

By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
May 8, 2013

FYI, Mick Shein's Sandia Rock guidebook has been updated in to a 2013 edition.

By kboofis
Feb 28, 2014

Anyone know what the conditions are like right now? Weather looks good for next week and kind of want to make the trip down.