West Face Direct
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BETA PHOTO: West Face Direct (5.8), Tombstone, Sandia Mountain...
This line is described in Hill's (1983:109-111) "Hikers and Climbers Guide to the Sandias" (I'm working with the 2nd edition; I haven't seen if this description has changed in the 3rd edition). Schein's (2003:75) "Sandia Rock" describes a slightly different second pitch. I followed Schein's line, so I can't comment on Hill's full route.
Pitch 1: From the top of the pillar that marks the base of the climb, pull through some face moves that immediately get your attention, to gain a crack. About 2/3 of the way up the pitch, climb through some fun plate-sized chickenheads on the left and gain the prominent ledge that crosses the face (which constitutes part of Pitch 1 of the West Face Traverse); move right about 10-15 feet to the base of a short chimney and belay on gear from there.
Pitch 2: Climb the short chimney and follow a nice crack to a point where the crack starts to turn into a left-facing dihedral. Hill's description of the route continues up this dihedral. Schein recommends traversing up to the right across a face to the bottom of another chimney with two obvious roofs. Pull through the fun upper roof and climb to the top of the formation.
This route generally ascends the right-center of the west face of the Tombstone. From the southwest corner of the Tombstone (at the flat-topped luncheon pillar), traverse north ca. 50 feet and then ascend through blocky 4th class terrain to the top of a semi-detached pillar (2nd pillar in from the south). Watch out for a car-door sized loose DEATH BLOCK part-way up to the pillar (maybe it should be trundled?). Two rusted 1/4" belay bolts mark the beginning of the route.
At the top, walk off to the east and then south.
Standard rack of cams & nuts should do, with plenty of runners too.
There are two manky belay bolts at the base of the climb, otherwise you will build gear anchors. There are plenty of trees and blocks to sling at the top of the formation.
Randy finishing above the roof on Pitch 2 of the S...
|Comments on West Face Direct
|By Nick Manke|
From: Edgewood, NM
Oct 21, 2008
This was a fun climb. I'd recommend bringing plenty of runners especially for working out over the roof (as I learned the hard way, not having long enough extenders through that section nearly ruins the climb for you ha ha). Rock was solid but be prepared to work around some shrubbery.
Jun 7, 2009
The steep trail consists of dirt and pine needles. If you hit a large felled tree which is sliced horizontally and laid perpendicular to the trail you can cut right and head onto another trail which will put you at the top of the formation. You could leave your stuff there and head back to the base of the climb.
Yes, the shrubbery was heinous. Then again, I got off route and climbed up that face left of the bushy dihedral --retreated into the dihedral -- then traversed back onto the face. Not sure that was the best way to go.
There's an old sling on a ramp with a rap ring at the end of the first pitch... it looks shady (as did the pathetic bolts at the start of the climb). But that ramp gives a better estimation of where the second pitch probably (actually) goes.
|By Luke Engvall|
Nov 8, 2009
I knocked down the Death Block today as I was climbing. It was super shaky, the coast was clear below and I felt it should be done. Hope it didn't have any sentimental value for anyone.
|By Anthony Stout|
From: Albuquerque, NM
Nov 12, 2009
A death block in the Sandias?! I can't for the life of me imagine that :)
I'm sure your cleaning will be appreciated by the next ascent party!
|By Bill Matlin|
Jul 23, 2011
One of the best 5.8's I have climbed in the Sandias. Excellent rock, ample pro, pretty vertical. What more can I say!
|By Jason J Patton|
Aug 23, 2011
Climbed a much better variation to this last Sunday. After the first pitch traverse the ledge all the way over to the anchor for the 5.5's first pitch and go pretty much straight up from there. trend slightly right on sparse but adequate thin gear then trend left to some awesome 5.9 finger cracks. This part of the wall is vertical and clean and the finger cracks are really good. Step left into the roofs on the Schein variation but first pull some jugs right of the Schein variation and enter the wide roofs a little higher up. This eliminates the bushes on this route and makes for a nice clean, quality two pitches. Too bad the first pitch isn't a little longer. I would bet this variation has been climbed plenty but I can't find anything in print. Anyone?
|By Matthias Lang|
Jul 3, 2012
I found the Schein variation way fun. The roofs look intimidating but trust the rating, going through the roof is really not that hard. Thought is was one of the coolest sections of 5.8 in the sandias. Unfortunately the awesome part is fairly short. The same holds for the sweet chickenheads on the first pitch.
|By Bill Lawry|
From: New Mexico
Aug 12, 2012
If leading at your limit, suggest starting P1 somewhere well below the anchor bolts. This way, fall forces are smaller if the leader pops off the P1 crux plus it could help avoid a fall onto the belayer. You'll probably ledge out either way.