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Elevation: 8,225 ft 2,507 m
GPS: 35.2329, -106.46437
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Shared By: Chris Wenker on Feb 10, 2009 · Updates
Admins: Jason Halladay, Mike Hoskins, Anna Brown

Description Suggest change

Juan Tabo Canyon has its headwaters in the huge west-facing amphitheater south of North Sandia Peak. The north side of the canyon is prominently defined by the massive wall of the Shield. The southern margin of the canyon is formed by the ridge that connects The Needle with The Prow.

Getting There Suggest change

Depending on which crag you are targeting, or, sometimes, even which side of the crag you are heading for, the approaches to the climbs in Juan Tabo Canyon may involve either hiking down from the Crest or up from below. For example, the lower crags like UNM Spire and the Prow are commonly approached from below, using the Piedra Lisa Trail to access either the Fletcher or Movie Trails, respectively. Climbs on the eastern side of the Shield are commonly approached from above, from the North Crest Trail, but they may also be reached from below via the Fletcher Trail. Routes on the western end of the Shield may be better approached by the Piedra Lisa and Rincon Spur Trails. Similarly, the Needle may be approached by either dropping down from the North Crest Trail or by coming up from below, going up the Movie Trail or Waterfall Canyon.

Descents off of the Shield may be as straightforward as hiking back to the North Crest Trail, if you approached it from above. Conversely, if you approached the Shield from below, it may be more complicated. One can descend the Knife Edge, although that involves low-fifth-class downclimbing and traversing through the "W". Alternately, some reports indicate that hiking from the top of the Shield up to the Crest and then taking either Chimney Canyon or the La Luz Trail back to the bottom works.

The eastern portion of the canyon, the part that lies above about 7100 feet elevation and contains all the crags of interest, is contained in the Sandia Mountain Wilderness, with all the attendant USFS restrictions.

Peregrine Closure History

Suggest change
As of June 2019, there is no longer a closure in effect for Juan Tabo Canyon (the Shield, Prow and UNM Spire). The closure was originally put in effect in 2017 for protection of peregrine nesting on the Shield. Peregrine have been delisted and monitoring on the Cibola continues to show an increasing population across the forest. The closure order has expired and is no longer in effect. All closure signs have been removed and and the Cibola NF website updated. A voluntary avoidance advisory may be posted at the Piedra Lisa South trailhead. Peregrine and other raptors may be present at cliffs across the Sandias and other climbing sites on the Cibola MF. Climbers are encouraged to give raptor nests a wide buffer to ensure nesting birds are not disturbed and to ensure their own safety.

22 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Juan Tabo Canyon

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
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Route 6
Trad 6 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
Southwest Ridge
Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
Trad 10 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R
Chicken Chop Suey
Trad 10 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
The Odyssey
Trad 5 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Slipping Into Darkness
Trad 10 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Rage Against the Dying Fire
Trad 9 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
Rainbow Dancer
Trad 9 pitches
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
The Promise Land
Trad 11 pitches
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
Cathedral of Western Fire
Trad 10 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Knife Edge Shield
Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c Trad
Route 6 Shield
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 6 pitches
Southwest Ridge Needle
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13 Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
Procrastination Shield
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R Trad 10 pitches
Chicken Chop Suey Shield
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R Trad 10 pitches
The Odyssey Shield
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 5 pitches
Slipping Into Darkness Shield
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad 10 pitches
Rage Against the Dying Fire Shield
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad 9 pitches
Rainbow Dancer Shield
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R Trad 9 pitches
The Promise Land Shield
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Trad 11 pitches
Cathedral of Western Fire Shield
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b Trad 10 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Juan Tabo Canyon »

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