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The Citadel
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West Ridge 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 650'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: 1 June 1963 Dick Ingraham, George Goedecke, and Owen Moss
Page Views: 2,829
Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Jun 17, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (14)
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Myself leading up our P3 (P4 on the old topo) with...


This route is described in Dick Ingraham's guide as the NW ridge eb.nmsu.edu/~amato/ingrahamgui.... It involves some meandering and plenty of route-finding, which makes it exemplary of Organ Mountain climbing. Doubtless, there are scores of variations on this route, but most of them offer good climbing on decent rock.
The overall character of the route id to find the path of least resistance. The first pitch scrambles up some easy ground on the west side of the Citadel, to the right of The Nose. Pitch 2 traverses left on the large ledge system taking you to the north side of the Citadel. Pitch 3-5 work up the ridge whichever way seems best. If you stay left from pitch 2, you end up doing more face climbing. One can easily end up facing a difficult move, or not having pro on this face, but there are many possible lines. The climbing eases closer to the top, becoming low-5th, or even 4th class for the last pitch. At the summit is a nice desert garden. relax and read the summit register under the juniper tree.


Path of least resistance up the NW ridge of the Citadel. An easy descent can be made on the north side, but requires some scrambling/down-climbing. Scramble down off the summit and back to a small, exposed ledge on the north face over a 100' slab. Find the poot slings and you can do a single rope rappel to gain a large ledge beneath the slabs. The east side of this ledge is a dirty gully which can be scrambled down. While you are scrambling down check out the cool roof system to your right, several harder lines exist.


Standard rack. Some topos show fixed pins and bolts, but depending on how you meander up to the top, you may not run across these. There are some nice comfy belay ledges that stay shady most of the morning.

Photos of West Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Bruce on the hike in.  The Citadel is just right o...
Bruce on the hike in. The Citadel is just right o...
The line of West Ridge. The last pitch is actually...
BETA PHOTO: The line of West Ridge. The last pitch is actually...
Looking up at P1.  Starts just out of view to the ...
Looking up at P1. Starts just out of view to the ...
A view of the West Ridge showing pitches 2 through...
BETA PHOTO: A view of the West Ridge showing pitches 2 through...

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By Waffleman860
From: Tucson AZ
Sep 6, 2011
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c R

The vertical spot following the easy traverse at the beginning of pitch 2 is risky now. The slab on the left ledge that offered a small crack for protection has broken free and should not be touched. That being said, there might be some protection above the ledge on the right, but the cracks are filled with grass. Otherwise, it is a long runout with serious risk of decking.
By Forrest Wilcox
From: Las Cruces, NM
Aug 18, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

i went in the dirty crack on the right on this pitch and it was fairly easy except for the overhang getting off the ground. i also avoided the "dihedral" part completely and went inside this chimney wedged on a pinacle. after i pulled out of the chimney i was on a nice belay ledge with bolts and a rap ring so i guess i was on someone's route, after the belay station on my pitch 3 there was a sketchy slab move and then pretty much 5.5-5.6 to the top
By Robert Cort
Apr 1, 2013

A better descent (or at least different) option is to walk east on the summit, and find a nice rap anchor (two beefy bolts with chains) just over the edge. A single rope rap lands you in a gully, with a relatively simple scramble down into the Rabbit Ears Canyon.
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
Apr 13, 2013

A detailed route description (one possible variation out of many, of course, but without the problems mentioned above):

Pitch 1 goes up the crack to the right of the Nose. If you are starting from a large prickly pear and have another one looming above you on the route, you are at the right place. Stay to the right of the cactus, and the tree, and belay from the wide, chossy ledge.

Walk left on the ledge, up a step, and continue scrambling on a more sloping ground to the north face of the Citadel. Once the ledge becomes flat and wide, build in the first crack you can find. It will be fairly high up.

Go up first right-facing corner. It will start a bit high, with some broken stuff leading to it. Follow the corner to a pinnacle on the ridge line. Above the pinnacle is a pair of bolts, only one of them a modern one (a possible belay). From the bolts go up on the left first on a slabby then on a more featured ground to an old bolt which may be backed up (a possible belay). Continue right past the bolt then take a sharp left before heading up to a head wall (a possible belay). (From the ledge to the head wall can be done as a single pitch.)

Turn the headwall on the right and head up a corner. At its end, step up onto the featured wall on the left and go up, and actually back a bit, to the ridge, which is now a series of steps, some smaller ones, one large one. Belay below or above the large step.

Go up on the right of the next ridge-line boulder following a large groove. Continue up the groove through the jumble it becomes until it turns into a nice wide ledge to the left of the ridge. Climb up a lichen-covered wall marked by a piton low down to reach the ridge again. Belay from an easy ground.

Continue up an easy 4th class ridge line to the next head wall. Turn left and go down to the level of a narrow flake detached in its middle. Step onto the face past this and go left on good holds. A rap station marks the end of technical ground. To reach the summit, continue on 4th class terrain staying generally to the left of the ridge line proper.

A rap station consisting of a pair of good bolts and chains is located on the south side of the summit plateau, to the left of the rock pile. A single 60m rope is adequate for the rappel. You want to have your walking shoes for the way back to the packs.

Note: On Pitch 1 there is a spot where feet are on slick and hands on crumbly and its not really protectable, at least not right there. A rumor has it that there is way to avoid this by going to the left. If you have done that, Id like to hear about it.
By Eric Wydeven
From: austin, tx
May 24, 2014

Don't underestimate the West Ridge. It is short and you might think an easy day. Complacency getting out of camp on an early Organs trip for us left us sleeping at the base of the pitch 4 slot on a cold and windy October night. Brrrrrrrrr. The route meanders back and forth over the ridge line and the short pitches and route finding take some time. I still want to go back and finish it up to the juniper garden one if these days. What we got done was fun though. Aaaah, the Organs.
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