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Routes in Yataghan

Blood on the Blade T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Happy Gnome, The T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Southeast Face T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Description

A well defined buttress in the lower reaches of the upper La Cueva canyon. Located on the north side of the La Luz trail, just behind(east) of The Pulpit.

Getting There

Find the crest spur trail on the south side of the Sandia Crest parking lot, and follow it about 1/2 mile. Head down the La Luz trail, down several switch backs, and continuing down past a several talus slopes. After the talus slops, the trail crosses the La Cueva canyon, here you pass a La Luz trail sign made of iron. From this point continue on for 50 yards. Here a slab of rock extends down off a formation called the Frog. Scramble up this slab and stay against the base of the Frog heading north. After a couple hundred yards you reach the gully between the Frog and the Yataghan. This gully is guarded by a huge chockstone. Which requires a short rap during your descent off the Yataghan. Continue on past the gully to the base of the Yataghan.

Descent:

Once on the summit, head pretty much due north along the summit ridge. Just before the ridge blends into solid ground, a broad gendarme forces you either west or east. Go east, and scramble down a few rock steps to the top of a gully. Traverse across the top of this gully (do not enter the gully) even though it looks casual. Instead continue to the next gully, which is choked with many dead trees. This gully is super steep, and has much loose rock and debris. But the great majority of that rock and debris can be nicely avoided by going down the far side of the gully (east side).

Hike for a long time down along the base of the cliff. When you come to the beginning / top of a ridge line with your original descent gully on skier's right, it will be necessary to make a long detour skier's left, into the wooded area, to avoid a steep section. It also becomes clear at this point why you avoided the western-most gully. Re-enter the gully, but stay on the east side for several hundred feet, until the gully begins to curve slightly to the SW. At this point more rock-hopping is required, and you should be roughly below the start of the Southeast Face. Continue for another 100 yds to the rappel point, which is about 20 feet back from the lip of the giant chockstone. The rappel is about 40 feet long. An efficient party can make this descent in less than an hour.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Yataghan

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
The Happy Gnome
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
The Happy Gnome 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
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Bill Lawry
New Mexico
Bill Lawry   New Mexico
Here is yet another option for returning to The Crest from the summit of Yataghan. In general terms based on what Tim Z and I found: Climb the broad 200+ foot tall cliff just northeast of the Yataghan's summit. After topping out, hike / scramble to The Sentinel and reverse its' approach back to The Crest. In more detail ...

Kinda think this should not be posted as a bonafide "route" ... unless some adventurous soul finds a better way to do the second half of the cliff. :-)

Follow the descent from Yataghan summit as far as reaching the 200+ foot cliff just east of the Yataghan summit.

Hike uphill (north) along the base of the cliff until at a forested saddle. Going beyond the saddle takes one down into Chimney Canyon - have not gone down that way. On east end of the saddle, scramble up to the large tree in the upper right of the below photo. In View full size , one can see the bottom half of a 60m rope hung from one end as we first rapped in. Rope just reached the large tree in the photo.

The below climb can be done in one pitch with a 70m rope, which has the advantage of keeping the belayer tucked out of the way of rock fall - lots of choss in the last 25 meters.

P1, 5.7+, ~25m, good rock: Climb up and left from the tree into a slot at the base of the cracked face. Climb up the cracked face. Before the crack flares, move right to climb the slot. When the face again has adequate ledges, traverse left on them about 10 feet. Now go up trending left to the left side of a medium-small evergreen at ~25 meters; the evergreen may not be visible until beside it. There could be good variations on this pitch.

P2, 5.7R, 35+m: Climb directly above the tree for ~20 feet on good rock with no gear placement (5.7R) up onto a big ledge. The run-out is no worse than that on P2 of The Happy Gnome. From the big ledge, continue up for ~15 meters, jog left ~15 feet into an alcove, and then climb up a short right-trending dihedral (~20 feet) to a large tree. Maybe there is a cleaner way up this second half.

From the large tree at the end of "P2", carefully scramble right / up to the top of the cliff. Then hike and scramble the ridge east towards The Sentinel. Along they way, find a ~30 foot rock step that looks easy to climb; we bypassed the step by skirting it to the far right and down around. Continue to The Sentinel, passing on its' north side (climber's left). Return to The Crest - i.e., reverse the approach to The Sentinel. It is probably best to already be familiar with that approach. Jun 25, 2016
First couple of attempts by Dave Hammack and I wound up rappeling off the large ledge. Finally did the last lead off the ledge in 1962 and I remember it just being a walk off the top, but then it has been 39 years since I last did the climb. I also don't remember it being all that chossy except in spots Sep 15, 2009
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
An alternative descent with no rappels: Go north along the ridge, then east and down the easternmost of the gullies, almost along the base of the next formation to the east (Chaos Crag), going around the back (east) side of the Frog (the Frog is the smaller formation just right of Yataghan, when you're looking at its SW face). This is Cl. 3 initially, then Cl. 2 most of the way (no rappels) and comes out where the La Luz Trail crosses the drainage. Someone helped this "trail" out by clipping the spike bushes sometime in recent years. I've gone this way twice and would opt for it over the rappel gully (updated 5/2015). Sep 7, 2008
Monomaniac
Morrison, CO
Monomaniac   Morrison, CO  
The descent off the Yataghan is pretty serious. I would say its the most serious descent I've done in the Sandias.

Once on the summit, head pretty much due north along the summit ridge. Just before the ridge blends into solid ground, a broad gendarme forces you either west or east. Go east, and scramble down a few rock steps to the top of a gully. Traverse across the top of this gully (do not enter the gully) even though it looks casual. Instead continue to the next gully, which is choked with many dead trees, and descend carefully. This gully is super steep, and has much loose rock and debris. Hike for a long time down this gully. Near the intersection with the next gully west it will be necessary to make a long detour east, into the wooded area, to avoid a steep section. It also becomes clear at this point why you avoided the western-most gully. Re-enter the gully, but stay on the east side for several hundred feet, until the gully begins to curve slightly to the SW. At this point more rock-hopping is required, and you should be roughly below the start of the Southeast Face. Continue for another 100 yds to the rappel point, which is about 20 feet back from the lip of the giant chockstone. The rappel is about 40 feet long. May 15, 2007

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