If you look down from the limestone band atop the Sandia crest (hiking down the La Luz trail), into upper La Cueva Canyon, you will see a striking double summited formation dominating your view. Though it looks nothing like a thumb, unless viewed from the north. In the center of the formation a distinct corner system can be seen, which is the route, Aviary Ort Overhangs
. All of the routes on the east side will spend only the morning in the sun, so area does not not make a good fall/spring/winter climbing area. But, summertime temps on this face will likely be quite pleasant.
Note: These directions will take you to the center of the formation, where Aviary Ort Overhangs is.
Find the crest spur trail on the south side of the Sandia Crest parking lot, and follow it about 1/2 mile. Head down the La Luz trail, down several switch backs, and continuing down past a several talus slopes. After the talus slops, the trail will eventually reenter the trees. Find a faint trail at the next switchback that will head west through the woods. Following the trail, you will eventually come to a point where it is possible to scramble to the bottom of Aviery ort overhangs.
(Written by Bowe Ellis
. See comments.)
From the north summit follow the ridge line to the north until you reach a pronounced drop off. For the down climb option work your way off slightly to the right (northeast) down an easy slab to a prominent pine tree at the top of a steep gully. This route will look improbable. Use the tree to enter the gully for just a few feet then look to the right (north) to spot an easy ramp that cuts back across to the ridge line. If you find the correct route it's no worse than exposed 4th class.
Another option, from the ridge at the top of the steep section, go back uphill just a bit and work down the west side, cutting north and following a ramp to a tree riddled with slings. From here rap to easy ground below. We didn't check the distance but it's almost certainly more than 30 meters. Standard SE Ridge descent description:
by John Kear
From the top continue along the ridge heading south for 150ft. Turn right and down climb to a tree. Follow a nice ledge system down just below the S ridge of the Thumb. Continue scrambling down the S ridge to the col at the S end of the formation. Once you cut down on to the N side of the col walk hard right staying above the talus below. Keeping contouring around until above forested slopes skiers right of the boulder field. Once in the trees there is a rough climbers trail that will quickly bring you back to the La Luz trail 500 Ft below.
Climbing Season For the La Cueva Canyon, Upper area.
Weather station 0.8 miles from here
9 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',4],['2 Stars',3],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in The Thumb
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Thumb
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Thumb:
Water Stains 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
PG13 Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, 400'
Halfbreed 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, 500'
Fowl Play 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
PG13 Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, 390'
Featured Route For The Thumb
Aviary Ort Overhangs 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a NM
: Sandia Mountains
: ... : The Thumb
The guidebook "Sandia Rock" lists this one as "One of the best of its grade in the Sandias". I will have to agree with this! This is a summer route, if it's 95 in Albuquerque, chances are, temps will be perfect to even slightly chilly on this route. It sees about one hour of sun per day. To get there, start on the La-Luz trail. The Thumb is an obvious formation, just keep on the trail until it is right in front of you. You will pass a scree/boulder field that the trail goes through. When you get...[more] Browse More Classics in NM
By Bowe Ellis
From: Taos, NM
Jun 17, 2008
The one thing that seems missing is a descent description.
From the north summit follow the ridgeline to the north until you reach a pronounced dropoff. For the downclimb option work your way off slightly to the right (northeast) down an easy slab to a prominent pine tree at the top of a steep gully. This route will look improbable. Use the tree to enter the gully for just a few feet then look to the right (north) to spot an easy ramp that cuts back across to the ridgeline. If you find the correct route it's no worse than exposed 4th class.
Another option, from the ridge at the top of the steep section, go back uphill just a bit and work down the west side, cutting north and following a ramp to a tree riddled with slings. From here rap to easy ground below. We didn't check the distance but it's almost certainly more than 30 meters. If someone knows this distance it would be nice to know.
By Chris Wenker
From: Santa Fe
Jun 8, 2009
Does the 4th class descent described by Bowe take you down the blocky section of the east face that lies to the north of Aviary Ort Overhangs? (yikes!) I suppose that could be useful if you left your packs at the base of the NW Ridge.
But going over the top of the S summit and down the SE Ridge is casual 4th and mainly 3rd class. Once you're off the Thumb and heading down the east slopes, stay in the trees along the edge of the first clear talus slope, and you'll hit the La Luz trail slightly above the uppermost switchback (not far down-trail from Donald Duck).