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Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Chicken Chop Suey T 
Knife Edge T 
Odyssey, The T 
Once In A Blue Moon T 
Procrastination T 
Promise Land, The T 
Purple Haze  T 
Rainbow Dancer T 
Route 2 T 
Route 6 T 
Slipping Into Darkness T 
Smorgasbord T 
Standard S Route T 


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Location: 35.2378, -106.4623 View Map  Incorrect?
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Submitted By: Orphaned on Oct 13, 2007
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Rescue off of Procrastination, early 80's. Victim ...

  • Seasonal Falcon Closure MORE INFO >>>
  • Juan Tabo Canyon is subject to annual access closures from March 1 to August 15. MORE INFO >>>

  • Description 

    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.

    Getting There 

    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.

    Climbing Season

    Weather station 1.6 miles from here

    13 Total Routes

    ['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',5],['2 Stars',4],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]

    The Classics

    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'   
    Procrastination   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1000'   
    Chicken Chop Suey   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1000'   
    The Odyssey   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 300'   
    Slipping Into Darkness   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1000'   
    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'   
    Browse More Classics in Shield

    Featured Route For Shield
    Rip @ the top of pitch 6, the hardest technical se...

    The Promise Land 5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b  NM : Sandia Mountains : ... : Shield
    P1- 5.11+ Start up some "chewy" rock for the first few bolts climbing on interesting black dikes that stick out from the wall. Near the top of the pitch a difficult move going left past a bolt is the crux of the pitch. Bolts, nuts and a red alien or #1 camelot.*Rip felt that this pitch warrented a grade of 5.12-, the crux is a difficult 2 move sequence on small crimps (V3 or V4), otherwise the pitch is 5.11-. P2- 5.11- Step right from the belay into a crack that curves up and back l...[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

    Photos of Shield Slideshow Add Photo
    Approach beta for the Shield, from the top.
    BETA PHOTO: Approach beta for the Shield, from the top.
    The Shield, Sandia Mountains, NM.  Composite image...
    BETA PHOTO: The Shield, Sandia Mountains, NM. Composite image...
    About 30 yards down the ramp from the start of Pro...
    About 30 yards down the ramp from the start of Pro...
    Shield - Feb 2013
    BETA PHOTO: Shield - Feb 2013
    Southwest buttress.
    Southwest buttress.
    The Shield in the evening light of summer.
    BETA PHOTO: The Shield in the evening light of summer.
    Taken while walking the base of the shield
    Taken while walking the base of the shield
    The Shield
    The Shield
    Wreckage from the June 2007 plane crash on the sou...
    Wreckage from the June 2007 plane crash on the sou...
    New Shield route info circa 1977 ...
    New Shield route info circa 1977 ...
    Part of the western end of the Shield, below the W...
    BETA PHOTO: Part of the western end of the Shield, below the W...
    The base of the shield.
    The base of the shield.

    Comments on Shield Add Comment
    Show which comments
    By Bill Lawry
    From: New Mexico
    Sep 22, 2011
    George, Good questions. I rapped first and saw the damage. My partner then cut the old rope and rapped on our 70 meter which reached with no problem. I don't know if a rap on a single 60 meter will make it ... maybe with a fair amount of non-trivial down climbing? Or maybe I'm over-estimating?

    We left all the webbing and rap rings / links in place on the tree. A loop of the old rope was left on the tree as a backup to the slings. We also left the anchored static rope at the bottom which had been attached to the free end of the old rap rope ... likely to prevent the rap rope from blowing around in a storm and tangling elsewhere.

    Hope that helps some. Bill
    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 jkurtzster@gmail.com