Elevation: 9,916 ft
GPS: 35.238, -106.462 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 29,638 total · 218/month
Shared By: Orphaned on Oct 13, 2007
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski
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Access Issue: Juan Tabo Canyon is subject to annual access closures from March 1 to August 15. Details
Access Issue: Seasonal raptor closure for some areas in the Sandias Details
Access Issue: Seasonal Falcon Closure Details

Description

The Shield is truly a "rite of passage" at several levels of climbing in the Sandias. This is the biggest wall in the area and harbors some of the most difficult and long routes in the state. It is only open from August 16-Feb 28 or 29 every year for Peregrine Falcon nesting habitat, so you'll have to plan accordingly. The closure does not include the Knife Edge.

Most climbs on the Shield are a very serious undertaking. You are very much alone here, like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. There's no water, the rock is variable and much of the climbing can be run-out, especially on crux pitches. The rewards are high for summiting! This is one of the most beautiful places in the Sandias when the aspens change.

The first climbing accident was logged on the Knife Edge of the Shield and most recently, a plane crashed just below the North Peak leaving shrapnel all throughout the oaks in 2007.

To see another party on this formation might seem unlikely. However, because there is only a limited time that climbers can legally access these routes, the likelihood of getting scooped is higher than you might think.

Getting There

Access from the top: Park at the last switchback on the Crest Road. Hike the North Crest Trail to North Peak. This is easy to find if you keep peeking out over the limestone band. Descend the limestone band on a fairly beaten climbers' path. From about 1/2 the distance from the North Peak drop-off to the top of the Shield, start to bear back towards the southeast. Look for a few aspen trees in a gully where a static fixed line is tied off to a pine tree. Rap the line or rap your own rope(s). Drop down skiers' left for 10m and then cut back through a notch and contour across to find some hand lines several hundred meters from the rap station. This will gain you access to the Ramp and routes Smorgasboard to Procrastination.

From the base: Park at Piedra Lisa Trail Head and plan for at least a 1.5 hour approach via the Fletcher "trail". To find the Fletcher Trail, start up the Piedra Lisa Trail. It will initially rise and then fall back into a creek bed. At this point veer slightly north (to the right and at a 1-20' slightly higher contour. The trail is very faint. You will pretty much think you are on a game trail. Follow this faint trail along a north-trending creek bed and toward the Rincon Ridge/Placitas until the trail begins to steepen. Look carefully for the Fletcher Trail as it gains elevation and eventually brings you the base of UNM Spire, and subsequently, the Shield if accessing anything from Procrastination or climbs farther to the right. For accessing the Standard "S" route and climbs farther left, it may be easier to gain the Rincon Spur trail (essentially the Knife Edge) and traverse in.

14 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Shield

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c
 65
Knife Edge
Trad, Alpine
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
 18
Procrastination
Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R
 7
Chicken Chop Suey
Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 8
The Odyssey
Trad, Alpine 5 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 7
Slipping Into Darkness
Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
 6
Rainbow Dancer
Trad, Alpine 9 pitches
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c A4+ R
 3
Purple Haze
Trad, Aid, Alpine 10 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Knife Edge
 65
Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c Trad, Alpine
Procrastination
 18
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
Chicken Chop Suey
 7
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
The Odyssey
 8
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, Alpine 5 pitches
Slipping Into Darkness
 7
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
Rainbow Dancer
 6
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R Trad, Alpine 9 pitches
Purple Haze
 3
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c A4+ R Trad, Aid, Alpine 10 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Shield »

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Craig Childre
Lubbock, Texas
Craig Childre   Lubbock, Texas
Access from the top? Looking at the topo, and all the great pictures we have thumb through, I have a pretty good idea where to go.

What would be great is some sort of visual that details which gully has the rap station, and where the hand line crosses over to the primary ramp.

Thanks for maintaining the anchors for this approach option. Apr 23, 2012
Chris Wenker
Santa Fe
Chris Wenker   Santa Fe
"What would be great is some sort of visual that details which gully has the rap station, and where the hand line crosses over to the primary ramp."

I made just such an image for a friend last year. So I posted it up here too. Apr 25, 2012
Hey all! Climbing season open on the shield, again! I dropped a blue ofsprey backpack off of the shield under the W ish. it has $60 in cash in it that you can keep if you find it. The cards have been canceled, but I would love the backpack back!!! Please contact me if you find it jkurtzster@gmail.com Aug 15, 2012
Bill Lawry
New Mexico
Bill Lawry   New Mexico
Regarding approach from the top, see this beta for updates on the fixed-lines at the SE end of The Shield. Sep 7, 2015
mtnrobb  
Thank you to whoever replaced the fixed lines on the rappel and the lines on the traverse for the descent off the shield! As of mid-November, 2017, they are in great shape. Sep 16, 2017