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BETA PHOTO: Location of a good, clean rap line. Single 60m rop...
Ingraham rates this as 3rd, but holy cow, either the mountain has changed a lot since his day (doubtful), I'm a wimp (possible), or ratings in his day were very different than now (likely).
From the end of the approach (just east of the Organ Ridge, see below), ascend a broad gully. (See photos for and an ID on the gully. Do not start too far down/east.) You may want to rope up for Ingraham's "jam crack" (see photo), but after it climbing again moderates.
Just before the saddle between The Wedge and its false summit to the east, you have two choices: (1) take a broad, left-leading ledge, around an exposed corner then trend back right to the ridge and follow the ridge to the summit. You will find a short low 4th class pitch (low 5th?) and a short exposed knife edge to cross then easy terrain to the summit. I have not climbed up from the saddle, so someone help me there.
(2) The 0riginal (Ingraham's) version (written by Marta Reece): Continue up the gully until you find a short 4th (low 5th?) class pitch to the summit. Start the pitch from the left side of the boulder pile in the saddle. Traverse right on top of the boulders to an intermittent but prominent, right-slanting corner. The first, smoothest part of this corner is the crux. The tops of the boulders provide some protection for a roped-up leader. Before the second part of the corner (the one left of an off-width and a boulder) you may protect with #0.4 cam or use the piton. Belay a short distance above that. Go left soon after and continue along a head wall. The point at which you turn left is not particularly critical. Near the top, crawl under the large, left-leaning boulder and then up.
The Normal Route can be approached from the west (from Modoc Mine Road) or east (Aguirre Springs). We approached from the east, and I found it easier and shorter than the west approaches.
From the west, either (1) climb to the Lost Peak/Wedge saddle (going left from The Tooth) and traverse slightly east and south to the saddle between the Wedge and its false summit to the east. From here you will get to climb only the summit pitch of the route, or (2) climb to the Organ Ridge just south of The Wedge (from the end of Modoc Mine Road go again up the trail to The Tooth, but continue up the trail to the right of it). From the ridge, descend the gully to the east. This way you will get to the start the route as described in Ingraham's Guide to the Organ Mountains.
From the east, take the Pine Tree Trail to it's halfway point. You can cut to this location by going up the gullies - the Secret Trail (turn right early on from the south fork of Pine Tree Trail over some slabby rock marked with cairns, eventually head to the left to follow a gully), followed by the Ghost Fire Trail (branch off to the right up a well defined and clean gully). Fromm the halfway point in the Pine Tree Trail, ascend a ridge/welt immediately above the primitive campsite. When practical, traverse into the gully to the right (north) of this ridge. This is the gully leading to the saddle between the Wedge and Lost/Third Peak. Ascend the gully up to and through a fairly thick (but passable) maple/oak forest (nice color in the fall). Leave the maples just short of the Wedge by scrambling left up an easy, vegetated slope to reach the gully south of the Wedge. (This gully can be taken instead, if you like a fairly exposed 4th class scramble.) If you miss the exit, you'll wind up at the saddle between Third Peak and Lost Peak (you'll know you're in the wrong place if you have to ascend a chimney to get under a large chockstone).
None required, but you'll likely want to rap from the summit back down into the gully for descent. (A single 60m rope is adequate for the purpose.) Most climbers do rope up for the start of the summit pitch. A mid-size cam (about #1, but we scrambled it so not sure of size there) could be useful before the more interesting part. There is one piton just above that, protecting the next move. An anchor can be had on some bushes etc.
BETA PHOTO: Most of the summit pitch as viewed from the saddle...
BETA PHOTO: The first crux - the "jam crack" mention...
BETA PHOTO: Lower portion of the route from a location just hi...
BETA PHOTO: View of the start of the route from the gully belo...
Fall foliage during approach from the east. Like ...
Panoramic view looking south from the summit.
BETA PHOTO: If you are ascending from the east, this is where ...
By Drew Chojnowski
From: Las Cruces, NM
May 26, 2015
Hi Bob, we took the alternate (normal) route concluding your description. It involves one move at the very start of the climb that is sufficiently tricky and exposed to earn high-4th/low-5th class IMHO. A much taller person (I'm 5'8") might call it 3rd or low-4th class. After that move, it's somewhat exposed 3rd class to the summit.
For fans of miserable bushwacking through nettles and gooseberry over loose rocks/boulders on steep terrain, the eastern approach has to be among the finest the Organs have to offer. This apparently wasn't the case in recent past, since fire had wiped out much of the vegetation. The eastern approach also involves additional technical climbing beyond the summit pitch. We did a total of three rappels, bypassing a fourth by doing a weird move down a hole between boulders and then into and out of a narrow gap between boulders.
If peakbagging is the goal, I would suggest starting from the west, from the mine road just north of La Cueva, then to Wholt's Welt, then around the far north side of the first cliffs encountered, then to the Wedge/Lost Peak gully, then to the Wedge east shoulder, and then to the summit via the NE corner. Basically this is the Wedge West Ridge approach (see comments section for that climb), but continuing up the Wedge/Lost Peak gully instead of climbing the West Ridge. Only one pitch of real climbing is required via this approach.
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
May 28, 2015
I have led the route using only a single sling, a cordelette, and one 60m half rope. This minimal equipment was perfectly adequate for a comfortable lead. There is nothing other than the rope needed on the jam crack. (I scrambled it, but in the past I have tossed a rope over an oak branch for protection.) The half rope can be folded over for the short lead on the summit pitch. The piton looks trustworthy, and there are enough bushes and pinches available. The rappel is clean and goes to the start of the summit pitch, just about. All in all, it is a fun route for someone without a trad gear who wants to get high up into the Organs and tag a peak worth bragging about.