Elevation: 7,746 ft
GPS: 32.359, -106.575 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Robert Cort on Nov 6, 2010
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski
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Access Issue: Placement of bolts/fixed anchors is prohibited in Wilderness Study Areas Details


The Low Horns form the final northern section of "The Needles" section of the Organ Mountains, ending at Big Windy Canyon on the north, and the higher needles beginning with The Spire to the south. Gertch is essentially the west buttress of Low Horn #1, even though Gertch's west facing wall is much more impressive than the smallish tooth like summit of Low Horn 1. From the West, the Low Horns lean uniformly to the south, and climbing them from the north appears to be easier than the south. The east faces are also much steeper than the west faces.

Getting There

East approach is recommended. Start on the north fork of the Pine Tree Trail. Leave the trail at the second gully heading up. A short, fat log among the boulders at the bottom of the gully serves as a land mark. Go up left of the gully itself up a shallow draw to avoid brushy terrain. Once the slope ahead starts increasing, your direction will depend on which Low Horn you are going for.

For Low Horn 1 of the saddle between 1 and 2 go to the gully to the right and up it for a short distance before taking to the slabby terrain on the left. You can stay out of the gully for the saddle between 2 and 3 and plot your way by sight. Likewise, but farther left, for the gully between 5 and 6, which is also suitable for descent. It doesn't appear to practical to ascend between 4 and 5, although with some raps, you could descend that way.

Western approach (not recommended) would be up the Big Windy Canyon from the Topp Hut. There used to be a trail back in the day between Topp Hut and Big Windy, now it's a mess of cat claw. Ingraham's guide describes an approach from the bowl between Gertch and Gertch's Half Brother among others. Expect long approach times 2-3 hours and bushwhacking. With some more use, climbers trails will form quickly, but old cairns appear to date from Ingraham's day, and bits of trail, if you find them, seldom amount to much. Even for Gertch's Folly the modern approach is from the east.

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I'm going to call these the "Slow Horns." If you rope up, it will be very slow to cross the horns. My suggestion if going north to south: scramble Low Horn 1, rope up for Low Horn 2, scramble Low Horn 3 if you're bold (rope for me), scramble Low Horn 4, rope for a short pitch on Low Horn 5, then scramble over the top of it (although you might want to rope up for a short pitch on 5c too. As for 6, well...the horns are slow, we ran out of time. Sep 23, 2012
Marta Reece
Las Cruces, NM
Marta Reece   Las Cruces, NM  
Low Horn 6 can also be scrambled, but again some climbers will choose to rope up. Doing all six Low Horns in one day is an ambitious goal. After the first four, you are not even to a half-way point. If you do go for it, pick a day when it's not too windy. The wind up there does tend to be quite high and you'll be scrambling a lot of it to make time. Sep 17, 2013