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Routes in Torreon

Bitch's Brew T 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
Crossroads T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Mountain Momma T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Sorcerer's Apprentice T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c PG13
Sorcerer, The T 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b PG13
Voodoo Child T 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Wizard of Air T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
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Access Issue: Seasonal raptor closure for some areas in the Sandias Details


This nice formation is home of some of the cleanest rock in the Sandias, standing directly across (east) from The Thumb. The two classics on this formation are Mountain Mamma (5.10c) and Voodoo Child (5.12a).

Getting There

From the Crest Spur Trail, you are going to go North with the general goal of getting to an aspen-covered ridge that heads West, down to a log-cabin ruin, where most people leave their packs and harness up.. From the tumbled-down cabin one heads North, just above a cliff until it is possible to descend a fourth-class gully and then head South along the base of Torreon to access the climbs. Portions of this approach can be tricky.

The aspen-covered ridge that heads down to the West is easily visible from the crest spur trail unless there is thick fog. A problematic portion of the limestone band lies between you and the aspen ridge. There are at least two ways to get onto the ridge. Currently (2009) it is popular to head North from the FIRST switchback in the spur trail. There is a well trodden path with a grey post in front whose purpose appears to warn you that the well trodden path to the North is not the spur trail. The idea is to walk along above the limestone cliff to a particular place where a few 5.2ish moves punctuated with ledges get you to the base of the limestone band and onto the aspen-covered ridge. Presently (2009), a dead, double trunked tree is a landmark. The top of the cliff is a tad more trodden here, where lots of people have peered off the edge saying things like, “I think this is the place.” or “It looks like this will go.” A problem is that a trodden path continues North from here, so one could pass up this down-climb spot and waste a considerable amount of time. It helps to go with someone who knows where the down-climb spot is. Once on the aspen-covered ridge, it narrows as you progress down and leads you to a log-cabin ruin (still here in 2009). The ridge ends at a beautiful overlook. The back side of Torreon is to the West.

A second alternative is to continue down the spur trail to the SECOND switch back. Similar to the first switchback, there is a trodden path heading North and a grey post whose purpose appears to be to warn you that this is not the trail. Presently (2009), the trodden path takes you to a place where a dead log is holding tons of scree from cascading down a gully. RESIST the temptation to go down the well trodden gully. This mistake leads to crossing lots of unstable soil/scree and huffing to gain the aspen-covered ridge. Instead, cross the scree above the log and stay with the base of the limestone cliff, where there is presently no trail. Hugging or staying just below the base of the cliff keeps you on relatively stable soil although currently involves bushwhacking through Gamble Oaks. Fret not. By staying with the base of the cliff, the bushwhack over to the aspen covered ridge is short. You know you are there when the limestone band offers a toe which has a relatively luxurious growth of orange lichen. It is now a short stroll down the aspen-covered ridge to the tumble-down cabin.

Once a climber trail is established through the Gamble Oak in the stable soil near or along the base of the limestone band, this may become the preferred approach. There is no need to incorporate the section of existing trodden path. This route is a nice alternative when returning if you timed your top-out of Torreon just before the rain started. It is nice to avoid climbing the limestone band in the rain.

Now your goal is to find your way into the gully that is to the North of the cabin site. There are many eroded paths from many people fumbling the approach to the gully. All the wrong ones lead to one of many fifth-class descents which you may choose to rappel, climb down, or back away from, causing more soil erosion. Your goal is to find the fourth-class decent. Heading North and down from the cabin will probably take you to a well-trodden trail. It affords views over the edge of the 1st gully that let you know you are not there yet. The fourth class entrance to the correct 2nd gully is about 100 paces from the cabin site. Local landmarks are: The gully has a wee head wall. You bypass it by going North and then making a switchback near two large Douglas Fir trees. They are the biggest ones around. You should be looking into a trodden gully that heads West (probably to your right) and the short headwall of the gully is probably up to your left. There may be a small cairn at your feet. This is it — the only entrance to a legitimately fourth class way down this gully. [Note: If you have really found this spot, you did not stumble down any loose, eroded soil to get here from the cabin ruin, you did not need your hands, you have not done any substantial descending yet. Therefore, you are in the wrong place if you are contemplating doing any of these things without seeing a fourth class gully and its short headwall, which you just skillfully bypassed.] The way is now clear for a long, steep hike down. You will pass the foot of a bright-green-lichen arete. After a while you will be stumbling down loose scree and talus in the woods, clearly following the path of those who have done it before you. When in doubt of whether to scramble down into a gully over large talus, instead curve to the skier’s left (South) to more-or less hug the base of Torreon.

Topping out:
Scramble to the tippy top of Torreon. Look off the east side. There is a fat pine that probably sports various vintage slings, cords, descending rings, quick-links, etc. It is good to rap with one 60-m rope to avoid problems getting a knot stuck. When descending, try to stay to the climber’s right to go over the big blocks. Your object is to land on the saddle that connects Torreon to the mountain. After pulling the rope, leave your harness on, traverse East and climb the gully Northeast. It should be obvious to take care not to fall out of the bottom of the gully. After some scrambling there will probably be a fixed rope — the reason you left your harness on. Climbing the wall to the right is easier but will result in more of a swing if you fall. After a bit more huffing up the gully, the tumble-down cabin site appears on your right.

Continuing down from the base of Torreon:
The backside of the top of the Mexican Breakfast crag is directly across from Voodoo Child. There is a talus saddle between it and Torreon. Ostensibly, you can climb down the talus on either side to get to the base. Going around the South side works, and goes past the point where Mexican Breakfast finishes, where the ridge of the crag drops down to the talus level.

From Mexican Breakfast to the La Luz trail:
Go downslope into the gully. It may be easiest, at first, on the left side. Then, cross to the right side to pass a small-house-sized boulder. Then cross to the left side and depart from the gully, which heads down to the Southwest. Head vaguely Southeast to pick the easiest way through the forest and avoid loosing too much altitude while heading for a trail.

You will come to one of the old versions of the La Luz trail. The current (2009) La Luz trail is still to the South and you would have to go down and back up to get to it. Take the old trail up (to the left or East). You will pass within sight of the current La Luz trail at its switchback at the base of the extensive talus that is East of the Thumb. If you continue on the steep, B-line trail, you will pass behind the Fin and join the current La Luz trail at the switchback that is at the South toe of the wall below the Hole-in-the-Wall wall.

7 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Torreon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Trad, Alpine 4 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Mountain Momma
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c PG13
Sorcerer's Apprentice
Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
Bitch's Brew
Trad, Alpine 5 pitches
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Voodoo Child
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Wizard of Air
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b PG13
The Sorcerer
Trad, Alpine 4 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, Alpine 4 pitches
Mountain Momma
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
Sorcerer's Apprentice
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c PG13 Trad, Alpine 2 pitches
Bitch's Brew
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c Trad, Alpine 5 pitches
Voodoo Child
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
Wizard of Air
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
The Sorcerer
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b PG13 Trad, Alpine 4 pitches
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Chuck McQuade
Golden, CO
Chuck McQuade   Golden, CO
Crossroads (5.10a)... Has anyone been on this route, or have any beta regarding the route? Its left (climbers left) of Mountain Momma. Mike Schein put it up in 1995. Apr 29, 2007
Rio Rancho, NM
suprasoup   Rio Rancho, NM
I moved the rappel station at the top of Torreon on 10/4/2010. Details are in the following post Moved Rappel Station on Torreon. Sandias, NM Oct 6, 2010
I was above the gully north of Torreon and south of the Sentinel (below the limestone band) early Saturday morning (10/29/2016) right by the rock cairn, scouting the approach to Torreon, and had a surprise encounter with a cougar. It was a windy day, I was down wind and moving quietly, so the cougar didn't know I was there and I didn't see it either. Before I realized it, it was right in front of me (<10 feet). It started to growl loudly and show me its teeth. I yelled at it and opened my jacket up to look as big as possible and slowly backed away. It kept growling at me and didn't budge. I thought I was toast, but thankfully it didn't attack me or follow me as I left. I just wanted to post a warning to keep your guard up if you're around that area. Oct 31, 2016
Bill Lawry
New Mexico
Bill Lawry   New Mexico

A friend once had a similar encounter while quietly belaying me from the base of Almost Overlooked. Nose to the ground, the bear came up to within 10 feet before they noticed each other. For a while, my friend was known by the moniker Bear Bait. Nov 3, 2016
The old single ladies at the gym already call me "Cougar Bait" so this incident only confuses things. Dec 24, 2016
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
What’s the climb/ unfinished multi-year project(?) left of Voodoo Child, right of Sorcerers Apprentice? May 27, 2018
Mick S
Mick S   Utah
That is an open project that was started in the late 90's. Hard climbing through the roof, and there may be an anchor up there somewhere. I don't think it has been pushed to the summit, and maybe that was never the plan. May 31, 2018

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