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Areas in Sandia Mountains

Chimney Canyon 34 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 36 / 36
Domingo Baca Canyon, Lower 9 / 1 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 12 / 12
Echo Canyon 28 / 8 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 30 / 30
Hail Peak 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3 / 3
Juan Tabo Canyon 17 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 1 / 1 / 0 / 17 / 17
La Cueva Canyon, Lower 18 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 19 / 19
La Cueva Canyon, Upper 95 / 12 / 8 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 105 / 105
Pinnacle Valley 33 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 34 / 34
Pino Wall & Jawbone 6 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 7 / 7
Stuck Nut Crag 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
TV Station, The 0 / 0 / 0 / 6 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 6 / 6
TWA Canyon 5 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 5 / 5
Elevation: 10,678 ft
GPS: 35.211, -106.45 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 252,191 total · 1,729/month
Shared By: Anthony Stout on Jan 20, 2006
Admins: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski
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Because of the approaches to the climbing areas here, you will typically find solitude while climbing in the Sandias. Due to high elevation and nature of these mountains, conditions can vary. While one can climb at any time of the year, the best time seems to be between May through October. West and Southwest facing walls, such as Muralla Grande, can be warm and dry even on winter days. Watch for thunderstorms during the summer months.

Getting There

The majority of the climbs are accessed from the Sandia Crest, though some are approached from the foothills of Albuquerque (these directions will be give in the appropriate sections):

- Starting from Albuquerque, take I-40 east through Tijeras Canyon, exiting on the Tijeras exit (exit 175).
- North on highway 14 for 6.8 miles
- Turn left on NM 536 (follow signs to Sandia Mountain Ski area), and follow this road for about 14 miles, past the ski area, and finally to the Sandia Crest.

Getting to the different climbing areas:

Approach times and difficulties vary depending on where you are going. Directions will be given in the appropriate sections.

WARNING: Approaches can be DIFFICULT, as in both strenuous and difficult to find. It's not difficult to get lost in this area. Should anyone following directions posted on Mountain Project end up lost, feedback on the directions in order to make them more accurate is appreciated.


- Sandia Rock by Mick Schein (2013, Sharp End Publishing)
- Rock Climbing New Mexico by Dennis R. Jackson (2006, Falcon Press)
- Hikers and Climbers Guide to the Sandias by Mike Hill (1993, Coyote Books)

274 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Sandia Mountains

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c
Knife Edge
Trad, Alpine
5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
Flake n' Bake
Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Northwest Ridge
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Trad, Alpine
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
The Second Coming
Trad, Alpine 4 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Miss Piggy
Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Aviary Ort Overhangs
Trad, Alpine 3 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R
Warpy Moople
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Bush Shark Spire
Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Excitable Boys
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Yucca Flower Tower
Trad, Alpine 3 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Mountain Momma
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Great Escape
Trad, Alpine
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Little Yellow Jacket
Trad, Alpine 5 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Knife Edge Juan Tabo Canyon > Shield Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c Trad, Alpine
Flake n' Bake La Cueva Canyon,… > Flake n' Bake 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
Northwest Ridge La Cueva Canyon,… > Thumb 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
Estrellita La Cueva Canyon,… > Estrellita 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad, Alpine
The Second Coming Chimney Canyon > Muralla Grande 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad, Alpine 4 pitches
Crackula Echo Canyon > Techweeny Buttress 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
Miss Piggy La Cueva Canyon,… > Hole in the Wall 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
Aviary Ort Overhangs La Cueva Canyon,… > Thumb 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine 3 pitches
Warpy Moople Chimney Canyon > Muralla Grande 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
Bush Shark Spire Echo Canyon > Bush Shark Area 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
Excitable Boys Chimney Canyon > Muralla Grande 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
Yucca Flower Tower Echo Canyon > Yucca Flower Tower 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad, Alpine 3 pitches
Mountain Momma La Cueva Canyon,… > Torreon 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
Great Escape Echo Canyon > Yucca Flower Tower 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad, Alpine
Little Yellow Jacket Chimney Canyon > Muralla Grande 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad, Alpine 5 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Sandia Mountains »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
RE: approach times in the Sandias.
Approaches are usually 30 min- 1hr, if you don't get lost. (Except for the Needle and the Shield- those are more like 1.5hrs- 2 hrs, if you don't get lost.)
Early April is typically a bit early in the season. (edit 4/2016) But this year, it ought to be ok, I've climbed in the Sandias a couple of times already this year. Jan 13, 2016
I am looking for some general guidance on approach times. Would someone mind giving an approximate approach time to some of the formations or routes to give me a ballpark figure on planning? Also, what are conditions generally like in early april? Thanks! Jan 12, 2016
Mick S
Mick S   Utah
Like Jeremy said, please do not call the Forest Service.

New Mexico ClimberÂ’s Resource and Advocacy Group (NM CRAG) Route Development Guidelines

NM CRAG advocates and encourages climbers to abide by the following fixed anchor guidelines when establishing new routes in the Sandia Mountain Wilderness:

NM CRAG acknowledges and supports the existing laws that ban the use of motorized drills in Wilderness.

Minimize your impact by staying on existing trails when possible; do not build new trails without Forest Service approval.

New climbing routes requiring fixed anchors should be evaluated based on:

Rock quality, aesthetic position, environmental impact, natural terrain features, potential appeal to present and future climbers, the effect on other user groups, and the number of existing routes in the vicinity.

Ask yourself and others if your potential route is a worthy addition to the area before adding fixed anchors.

New routes requiring fixed anchors should not crowd existing climbs. Fixed anchors should not be used when reliable options for removable protection exist.

Fixed protection may be appropriate to prevent the risk of ground fall, hitting dangerous obstacles or factor two falls. Climbers should bear the responsibility for determining when to place safety anchors and how to use these tools.

Fixed anchors may be appropriate when used for rappel stations to reduce excessive trails and damage to fragile cliff-top environments. All fixed protection should be camouflaged to blend in with natural terrain.

Bolt intensive climbs are not appropriate in Wilderness. Sections of fixed protection may be required to link natural features containing possibilities for protection with removable gear. Aug 27, 2015
Las Vegas, NV
Steve.B   Las Vegas, NV
Looking for some guidance, wondering what the bolting policy is in the Sandias. I know you can't use motorized drills and can't seem to find any guidance on new bolds in the Sandias. Short of getting an answer here I'll have to call the rangers but my work schedule doesn't always allow.
Many thanks, Steve Aug 26, 2015
To CHIEF Clark Grey... I'm responding about your 2008 comment of "Hoy's Chimney"; I believe there are a couple of others!!!
I have soloed the West Face of the Needle way back in the 1970-s and found "Hoy's Chimney" to be a nightmare of loose rubble :op
Since then, yours and my friends have put up a few good chimney routes such as "Smorgasborg" (sp?) on the Shield and "ChockStone Chimney" on Hail Peak. They may not be considered as 'long' , but the quality of the rock and the climbs themselves are much better than HOY'S Chimney. I can still remember my solo descent down that "gully" ; and Jim Fuge's and my rappels during a lighting storm after an overnight ascent of the SW Ridge ( w Lighting! ).
Thank God for those little trees :o)
Good to hear from you my Dear Friend,,, even if I'm a bit late finding all of you in this cyber world :op Jun 14, 2015
I would like to add something to complement the approach 'overview' given. Specifically the part that reads: "It's not difficult to get lost in this area".

While I wholeheartedly agree that it is indeed hard to find ones way to particular walls and objectives (especially once within tree cover in higher elevations). It is 100% absolutely completely and utterly impossible to become truly lost on the west side of the Sandias. I mean lost in the sense of "which direction is my car?" or "where is civilization?". Its possible to lose your way to the trail or become cliffed out (at higher elevations) but youll always have an idea of the 'big picture' regarding navigation.

On another note, I love this area. I spent my entire childhood boulder hopping and scrambling around the lowlands and spent many days in my teen years on the bigger objectives at higher elevations. The knife edge, pulpit, and the needle are not to be missed. Mar 16, 2015
Anyone know what the conditions are like right now? Weather looks good for next week and kind of want to make the trip down. Feb 28, 2014
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
FYI, Mick Shein's Sandia Rock guidebook has been updated with a 2013 edition. May 8, 2013
Steve; As for the South face of the chimney the aid consisted of RURPS, tied off knife blades an very small wired chocks and the old copper mashies. above the overhang it goes all free (A3, A4)

As for chimney routes hoys Chimney on the west side of the needle is about the longest chimney route in the Sandias. It ends up on the Southwest ridge right before you get to the fifth avenue level. It's not very hard but pretty fun. Dec 9, 2008
John Kear
Albuquerque, NM
John Kear   Albuquerque, NM
In answer to Steve's inquiry about the new bolt on the west face of the Chimney; The route is called Smoke on the Horizon II 5.11b. I climbed the route for the first time in 02 or 03 without the bolt and didn't climb it clean then. I went back with Allen Aiken in the summer of 04 and put in the bolt and tried to clean the route up a little but it struck me as too scruffy to become something many people would want to do, but it has been freed cleanly. I never got around to telling many people about it or posting it. If some one put in some anchors at the summit and rapped in and cleaned the line it would turn out to be a decent 2-3 pitch route on the Chimney. I just haven't gotten back to it as yet. Nov 4, 2008
Steven VanSickle
Ouray, Co
Steven VanSickle   Ouray, Co
Mike Roybal... what do you think the aid on the south face of the chimney goes at? I hiked up to the base and thought it looked really really thin. Any idea? Also does anyone know what the brand new bolt about a pitch up the west face of the chimney is for, tried to lead past it but it was caked in lichen. Oct 26, 2008
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
The only thing I've been on in the Sandias that is close is P6 on Excitable Boys and it really isn't much at all. Long way to go for it. Granted, I haven't climbed much in the Sandias and generally avoid OW and chimneys.
If you're looking for some serious grunting in Northern NM, Airbus would likely be right up your alley. :-) Oct 24, 2008
Steven VanSickle
Ouray, Co
Steven VanSickle   Ouray, Co
Does anyone know of any chimney pitches? Oct 24, 2008
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
An older but enjoyable read about the Sandias by local climber Josh Smith is online at Climbing Aug 13, 2008
Morrison, CO
Monomaniac   Morrison, CO  
I haven't been up there this season, but I can see a lot of snow up there from my house. In fact, we got another ~1/2 an inch Wednesday night (at my house). I would guess the approach to any of those 3 routes would be pretty heinous, but the rock would be relatively snow free. Feb 22, 2008
Charles Vernon
Tucson, AZ
Charles Vernon   Tucson, AZ
Can anyone comment on a) current snow conditions and b) the temperatures to expect up on the rocks, if Albuquerque is forecast for low 60s and sunny (as later next week)? Specific routes I am considering are the Thumb and Needle ridge climbs, and Procrastination on the Shield. Thanks! Feb 22, 2008
Steven VanSickle
Ouray, Co
Steven VanSickle   Ouray, Co
Does anyone have beta for a supposed tyrolean traverse. Between the cake and the candle? Dec 4, 2007
Anthony Stout
Albuquerque, NM
Anthony Stout   Albuquerque, NM  
My standard rack for anything in the Sandia's typically consists of doubles (camalots) from 0.3 to #2 with one #3, a few smaller cams (C3s), a full set of nuts, and 10 slings. Slings are important because so many routes wander, though you could probably get away with less than ten on most routes with some quick draws (I don't have to extend all of them but I do end up slinging most of my pieces). If the route description ever recommends bringing any pieces larger, I typically do.

Hope that is helpful. Oct 8, 2007
Steven VanSickle
Ouray, Co
Steven VanSickle   Ouray, Co
What does a Sandia rack consist of? Oct 8, 2007
Chuck McQuade
Golden, CO
Chuck McQuade   Golden, CO
The approach for science friction/windward walls aren't too bad. Approach via the crest, from the La Luz junction (Echo canyon meets upper La Cueva canyon) hike/scramble west sticking to the ridge line. There is a rap station (somewhat hidden) facing SW. Thus these crags get pretty good sun-exposure. If you pass the rap station no worries you cant continue too much further the line ends. The first rap gets you to the base of the upper tier crag. A second station after a scramble north gets you to the base of the lower tier. Apr 20, 2007
Morrison, CO
Monomaniac   Morrison, CO  
Anyone made the journey to the Windward Wall? looks sweet in the guidebook, but perhaps a bit difficult to find.

How about the Watchtower? Apr 19, 2007
Morrison, CO
Monomaniac   Morrison, CO  
"quality rock and generally well protected "

That's hilarious! You made my day! Jan 30, 2007
I just recently got a copy of the Jackon Guide to New Mexico Climbing. I have climbed Tooth Or Consequences in the Organs (really enjoyed it!), but I am embarrassed to say I have never been to the Sandias...they look amazing. Long Adventure routes on quality rock and generally well protected with year round access and weather...or is that a neophyte's misconception? I'd love to go there, but first get the skinny from locals. It seems odd that NM doesn't seem to get the publicity that Utah or Colorado climbs do for "intermountain west", but, anyway.... are the bolts on the long routes being replaced by new and improved 21st century quality beef? Specifically, I am keen to do some of the long routes on the Shield.
thanks.... Jan 28, 2007
One might want to check out the download from Sharp End Publishing. It shows the introduction to Mick Schein's "Sandia Rock" (2003) Apr 29, 2006

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