Access Issue: Placement of bolts/fixed anchors is prohibited in Wilderness Study Areas Details


This eye-catching mountain range is just east of Las Cruces. There's probably more climbing here than one could do in a lifetime. However, the long approaches over hot and unfriendly desert have kept the crowds away. The original Spanish name of the Organ Mountains was Sierra de la Solidad - Mountain of Solitude, and the name fits to this day. Off trail, and almost everything is off trail, the mountain range is ragged enough to be nearly deserted. If you do go there, plan on being self-sufficient. Be prepared to provide your own rap stations even on "established" rap routes. Cell reception is generally decent, but other than that, expect to be on your own.

Some favorites which may appeal to you, depending on what you are after:
Easy climbing made adventurous by long runouts on ultra-long routes – Sugarloaf
Classic lines up a steep, clean granite – The Tooth
Sun in winter – Southern Comfort Wall
Shade in the summer – The Citadel
Climbing within the sight of the parking lot – La Cueva
Bouldering – Pena Blanca
An impressive summit gained with some effort – The Wedge

Overview of Areas
The mountain range divides naturally into North and South Organs. South Organs are largely off limits, being on Fort Bliss or White Sands Missile Range, and for the most part decidedly chossy. Almost all of the climbing here is in the southwestern end at Pena Blanca, and it is predominantly bouldering.

The northern half of the the range is granite. It starts from the south with the Organ Needle and Square Top area and continues with High Horns and Low Horns. Going north, the range splits into two parallel lines of peaks - Rabbit Ears in the east and Rabbit Ears Towers in the west - separated by Rabbit Ears Canyon. The north end is again basically a single chain of peaks which gets progressively less rocky.

Separate from the main line of the range, approximately east from the Needle is Sugarloaf. It is also granite, but it is an exfoliation dome studded with chicken heads rather than the blocky terrain typical of the rest of the range.

Also away from the main ridge line, low in the west and close to Fillmore Canyon (the line separating North and South Organs), is La Cueva.

Listing of areas (generally from north to south)
North Organs
.....The Diamond

Rabbit Ears Area
. Eastern line of peaks
.....Last peak
.....The Cwm
.....North Rabbit Ear
.....Middle Rabbit Ear
.....South Rabbit Ear
.....Pyramid of South Rabbit Ear

. Western line of peaks
.....The Citadel
.....Shortline Wall
.....Lesser Spire

. Western foothills
.....Rabbit Ears Slabs
.....Hot Gates
.....Northern Exposure Wall
.....The Fin
.....Southern Comfort Wall
.....Bastion Wall

The Low Horns
.....Low Horn 1
.....Low Horn 2
.....Low Horn 3
.....Low Horn 4 (McCalla Horn)
.....Low Horn 5
.....Low Horn 6

The High Horns
. The line of the peaks
.....The Spike
.....The Spire
.....Lost Peak
.....The Wedge

. The western foothills
.....The Tooth

Needle and Squaretops
.....Little Squaretop
.....Organ Needle
.....The Retaining Wall
.....Minerva's Temple

Sugarloaf Area
.....Sugarloaf's Stepchild
.....East Slabs

La Cueva
.....Shady Side
.....Sunny Side

South Organs
.....Achenbach Canyon
.....Long Canyon
.....Pena Blanca

Getting There

Approaches can be made from several spots. The Dripping Springs recreation area, the Topp Hutt and Modoc Mine roads off of Baylor Canyon road, and Aguirre Springs campground.

Expect 1-3 hours for the approach and be prepared for desert sun and plenty of hostile plants.


Bouldering in the Pena Blanca area is covered in New Mexico Organ Mountain Bouldering Guide possible to find at…

The guidebook "Rock Climbing New Mexico" by Dennis Jackson has a short section that is useful for climbing in the Organs. A new edition is now out (2006) and includes a bit more info on the area.

A few online resources are helpful. R.L Ingraham Guide to the Organs This is a guide written in the 70's and gives descriptions of most peaks and approaches.

To appreciate the early pioneers, Dick Ingraham in particular, and to get a feel for what it was like back then you can check…

There is also a series of Topos (Rock & Ice #48 for one) for some of the more popular walls. However, it lacks detailed route descriptions and the topos have now been posted to Mountain Project into the relevant areas. If you need more information feel free to contact Marta Reece.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Organ Mountains

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
V2 5+
White Lightning
S Organs > … > Volcano > Rave
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R
North Face
Trad 9 pitches
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R
Left Eyebrow to North Face
Trad 8 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
The West Ridge
Trad 5 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Left Eyebrow
Trad 9 pitches
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Lowenbrau Light
Trad 2 pitches
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
Gertch's Folly
Trad 7 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Black Velvet
Trad 3 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Trad 2 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Speak in English
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Tooth or Consequences
Trad 4 pitches
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
Tooth Fairy
Trad 4 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Tooth Extraction
Trad 5 pitches
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Science Friction (to Left Eyebrow)
Trad 9 pitches
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
El Diablo
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
White Lightning S Organs > … > Volcano > Rave
V2 5+ Boulder
North Face Sugarloaf Area > Sugarloaf
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R Trad 9 pitches
Left Eyebrow to North Face Sugarloaf Area > Sugarloaf
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R Trad 8 pitches
The West Ridge High Horns > Wedge
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 5 pitches
Left Eyebrow Sugarloaf Area > Sugarloaf
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R Trad 9 pitches
Lowenbrau Light Rabbit Ears Area > Southern Comfort Wall
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
Gertch's Folly Low Horns > Gertch
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c Trad 7 pitches
Black Velvet Rabbit Ears Area > Southern Comfort Wall
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 3 pitches
Margaritaville Rabbit Ears Area > Southern Comfort Wall
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
Speak in English S Organs > … > Garden > El Diablo Spire
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a TR
Tooth or Consequences High Horns > Tooth
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 4 pitches
Tooth Fairy High Horns > Tooth
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Trad 4 pitches
Tooth Extraction High Horns > Tooth
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad 5 pitches
Science Friction (to Left E… Sugarloaf Area > Sugarloaf
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Trad 9 pitches
El Diablo S Organs > … > Garden > El Diablo Spire
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c TR
More Classic Climbs in Organ Mountains »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season


The Linda Rosul and Ted Dunning article of the Organ Mountains In Rock and Ice #48 (March/April 1992) contained redrawn topos (see page with Southern Comfort Wall) provided by the Southwest Mountaineers. There are errors in the article and the topos do need to be updated.

For the record, the persons who generated these topos in the 1970s and 1980s include (hopefully I didn't omit persons): Steve Wondzell, Edmund Ward, Paul Seibert, Paul Kemp, Mark Motes, Glen Banks, Matt Monagle, Jim Graham and Karl Kiser. Apr 23, 2006
"Rock Climbing New Mexico"--Dennis R. Jackson (2006) contains a section on the Organ Mountains pp. 390-407. I offer some additional comments here.

Many of the older ratings 5.6 to 5.9 could be one grade harder. This would not apply to all climbs but do not underestimate an easy rating in the Organs. These mountains are not crags.

The approach times seems to be off a bit (see book times below). The approach to the Citadel and Southern Comfort are much shorter than the other areas, probably less than an hour. The first trip to any of these areas will be longer than subsequent trips.
Citadel--1 hour
Southern Comfort--1 hour
Tooth--1 hour
Wedge--1.5 hours
Sugarloaf--1 to 1.5 hours


#1 Glad We Came--better at 5.8/5.9

#2 Wish You Were Here--better at 5.8/5.9. The climb was originally done in two short pitches although the climb can go straight up (runner well) and left to the anchor. Pitch1: climb up left facing dihedral, exit right and belay. Pitch 2: traverse left to bolted anchors. One can continue up and go to the summit of the Citadel although most parties rap. Rap to the east and walk back to gear. The notation about 5.11 face climbing is WRONG. This is information about the third pitch of Hercamur Snurd. This pitch is seldom done and contains old 1/4" bolts.

#3 Hercamur Snurd--both pitches better at 5.10-; new 3/8" bolts have been added (thank you Jim)

#7 Finger Zinger--better at 5.10a/b

#9 West Ridge--better at 5.7; one can rap either to the east (more common) or west off the summit (two ropes and hard to find--used more for routes on the west face of the Citadel).

Southern Comfort--p.399

#13 Black Velvet--I put in the two bolt variation on lead, they are 1/4" bolts and need replacement!

#14 Margaritville--better at 5.8/5.9

#15 Hangover--one can escape left on the second pitch if the crack proves too difficult.

#15.1 DT--Mark Motes doesn't mind if someone places a couple of good bolts on the pitch to make this a still exciting lead. The route is usually a TR, start with DWI and then go left after the roof moves up a shallow dihedral.


#16 Tooth Fairy--descent for all three routes noted in book is the same, three double rope raps down the center of the face.

Topo for T or C: the first pitch is wrong, this is the unprotected variation. Follow the written instructions--up the crack then traverse right to the belay.


One can approach the Wedge from the east as well. Go up high on the Pine Tree trail then up a ridge to a flat area below the short east face of the formation. This is where the short rap is found. Go right and descent to the start of the West Ridge, go left to descent to the start of the Shillelagh route.

#20 Diagonal Route--there are several starts to this route, 5.9 and 5.10. The route is better know as the Shillelagh Route.

#21 Robbins Route--this has historical interest but there is no established route up the face, the book misleads here Several strong parties have climbed in the area of the historic route (at 5.11) but to my knowledge no route has been definitely described.


One can rap from the east side with a single rope (useful) and frequently done. Then just walk west under the south face, around to the north side and follow the rock down to your packs. Some friends just climbed Sugarloaf and did not see an intermediate rap station from the southwest rap, it needs two ropes.

#22 North Face--better at 5.7 and grade III, this cannot be a grade IV when the long and hard Organ Needle East Face routes are noted in the as a IV.

#23 The Left Eyebrow--this route is also better as a grade III.

#24 Science Friction--the 5.11 moves are just a couple off the belay at the top of the second pitch, one can simply aid this as well (much less scary than the less than well protected 5.9 face climbing to the left). I do not know if the 1/4" bolts have been replaced. They are 30 years old and necessary. I would not do this route unless the bolts have been replaced! Apr 26, 2006
Back in progress, a more definitive guide to the Organs (and the Mesilla Valley). Everything else is finished (ie. Dona Ana's, Rough and Readies, Percha Creek, and Pena Blanca. It's going to be hard to finish though, as I'm currently living in Ft. Collins Co. Anyone who wants to put together something comprehensive on Orp, the Lesser Spire or the Rabbit Ears... it would be helpful. I don't have good stuff on Bastion or the Card Deck either. Also, names of routes on La Cueva? All I know is Banana Split (10b?)

Charlie Oct 4, 2006
Most of the multi-pitch climbs in the Organs were put up with 45 or 50 m ropes. One should take two ropes to rap unless one can confirm that there is a single rope rap route. Mar 26, 2007
climber pat
Las Cruces NM
climber pat   Las Cruces NM
Be very concerned about the 1/4 bolts. I know of two which broke under body weigth in the early 1990s. One was on the Citedal and one was in the Dona Ana's. Dec 5, 2007
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
We're now entering the nice season for climbing in the Organs. Late fall and early spring are ideal because it gets way hot in summer. Winter offers some fine climbing weather too but the days are shorter and if you get a system rolling through, it can get pretty damn cold. Sep 17, 2008
Las Cruces
cuclimbing   Las Cruces
I've heard a people refer to a "mini half-dome" somewhere in the Organs on the West side. I feel like they're talking about something that's around the dripping springs area...Anyone else heard this or know what I'm talking about? Dec 4, 2008
Aaron Hobson
Clinton, TN
Aaron Hobson   Clinton, TN
The Peak that strikes me most as being Yosemite-like is Sugarloaf. Not being a Yosemite climber, I'm probably not the best to judge, but it doesn't seem to me that Sugarloaf is much like Half-Dome. Dec 9, 2008
El Paso, Texas USA
Lowell   El Paso, Texas USA
See Organ Needle/Normal Route (classic hike). May 22, 2009
Las Cruces
cuclimbing   Las Cruces
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
I've heard of people seeking out beta for a traverse of the Organ Mtns. These links may help, as will contacting local climbers. Looks exhausting.
aac-publications.s3.amazona… Feb 23, 2015
Nathan Fry
Intervale, NH
Nathan Fry   Intervale, NH
Anyone interested in the info on the traverse can contact me or Jon Tylka, both via MP. Stranded up here in Vermont with lots of ice, but I still miss my Organs ... Aug 21, 2015