BETA PHOTO: Approach beta for the Shield, from the top.
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Juan Tabo Canyon is subject to annual access closures from March 1 to August 15. MORE INFO >>>
The Shield is truly a "rite of passage" at several levels of climbing in the Sandias. This is the biggest wall in the area and harbors some of the most difficult and long routes in the state. It is only open from August 16-Feb 28 or 29 every year for Peregrine Falcon nesting habitat, so you'll have to plan accordingly. The closure does not include the Knife Edge
Most climbs on the Shield are a very serious undertaking. You are very much alone here, like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison
. There's no water, the rock is variable and much of the climbing can be run-out, especially on crux pitches. The rewards are high for summiting! This is one of the most beautiful places in the Sandias when the aspens change.
The first climbing accident was logged on the Knife Edge of the Shield and most recently, a plane crashed just below the North Peak leaving shrapnel all throughout the oaks in 2007.
To see another party on this formation might seem unlikely. However, because there is only a limited time that climbers can legally access these routes, the likelihood of getting scooped is higher than you might think.
Access from the top: Park at the last switchback on the Crest Road. Hike the North Crest Trail to North Peak. This is easy to find if you keep peeking out over the limestone band. Descend the limestone band on a fairly beaten climbers' path. From about 1/2 the distance from the North Peak drop-off to the top of the Shield, start to bear back towards the southeast. Look for a few aspen trees in a gully where a static fixed line is tied off to a pine tree. Rap the line or rap your own rope(s). Drop down skiers' left for 10m and then cut back through a notch and contour across to find some hand lines several hundred meters from the rap station. This will gain you access to the Ramp and routes Smorgasboard to Procrastination
From the base: Park at Piedra Lisa Trail Head and plan for at least a 1.5 hour approach via the Fletcher "trail". To find the Fletcher Trail, start up the Piedra Lisa Trail. It will initially rise and then fall back into a creek bed. At this point veer slightly north (to the right and at a 1-20' slightly higher contour. The trail is very faint. You will pretty much think you are on a game trail. Follow this faint trail along a north-trending creek bed and toward the Rincon Ridge/Placitas until the trail begins to steepen. Look carefully for the Fletcher Trail as it gains elevation and eventually brings you the base of UNM Spire, and subsequently, the Shield if accessing anything from Procrastination
or climbs farther to the right. For accessing the Standard "S" route
and climbs farther left, it may be easier to gain the Rincon Spur trail (essentially the Knife Edge) and traverse in.
Weather station 1.6 miles from here
13 Total Routes
['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',6],['2 Stars',3],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
Browse More Classics in Shield
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Shield:
Knife Edge Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c Trad, Alpine, 900'
The Odyssey 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 300'
Rainbow Dancer 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
R Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, 1100'
Purple Haze 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
A4+ R Trad, Aid, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1000'
Featured Route For Shield
Knife Edge Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c NM
: Sandia Mountains
: ... : Shield
The Approach is the crux for sure. The rock is good enough if your cautious. The route is an excellent solo, just make sure your damn solid at the 5.3 grade! Bringing a rope on this route would be a lot more work than its worth. Its 85% 4th class then a bit of 5.3 at the top that is really fun....[more] Browse More Classics in NM
Latest Regional Forum Messages
By Craig Childre
From: Lubbock, Texas
Apr 23, 2012
Access from the top? Looking at the topo, and all the great pictures we have thumb through, I have a pretty good idea where to go.
What would be great is some sort of visual that details which gully has the rap station, and where the hand line crosses over to the primary ramp.
Thanks for maintaining the anchors for this approach option.
By Chris Wenker
From: Santa Fe
Apr 25, 2012
"What would be great is some sort of visual that details which gully has the rap station, and where the hand line crosses over to the primary ramp."
I made just such an image for a friend last year. So I posted it up here too.
By Jean kurtzster
Aug 15, 2012
Hey all! Climbing season open on the shield, again! I dropped a blue ofsprey backpack off of the shield under the W ish. it has $60 in cash in it that you can keep if you find it. The cards have been canceled, but I would love the backpack back!!! Please contact me if you find it firstname.lastname@example.org
By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Sep 7, 2015
Regarding descent from the top, see this beta Photo for fixed-line updates.