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Areas in Rib Cage

Broken Rib 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Knife Rib 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Long Rib 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
Rogowski's Rib 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Elevation: 7,000 ft
GPS: 32.364, -106.585 Google Map · Climbing Map
Shared By: Drew Chojnowski on Jan 16, 2016
Admins: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski
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The Rib Cage is located on the southwest side of Rabbit Ears Massif. Local climbing legend R.L. Ingraham described numerous multi-pitch climbs in the area in his guide to climbing the Organ Mountains (, see Rabbit Ears Massif section), but lack of a proper approach trail through the intervening sea of catclaw, prickly pear, etc. has largely prevented the area from being climbed over the past several decades. Anyone who has actually climbed here in the past is encouraged to post the route(s) or at least speak up via comment section of this page.

Following numerous trailblazing efforts by me and a more serious effort in early January 2016 with help from friends Kathryn Steakley and Gordon Freischlad, the Rib Cage area has officially been freed up (see "Getting There" section and beta photos, which include a map). Many thousands of feet of good climbing granite await exploration, such that it is safe to expect a small flood of FAs in the area in addition to a dusting off of the old routes traversing the ribs. Until then, it is important for climbers to be wary of loose rock and lack of established rap anchors.

True to the name, the Rib Cage consists of a series of rib-like spines which rise out of the desert toward the east and terminate on or at the base of the large plateau-like summit of Rabbit Ears Massif. Along the south sides of each rib are numerous and varied walls, all similar if not larger than the well-known Southern Comfort Wall. As with Southern Comfort Wall, the south-facing orientations of the walls make them attractive winter climbing destinations. The possibility of walking off onto Rabbit Ears Massif (and thus descending down R.E. Canyon) after long, multi-pitch routes is another attractive feature of the area.

Starting from the south terminating wall of Rabbit Ears Massif, just north of Big Windy Canyon and Gertch, Ingraham's guide refers the ribs as Knife Rib, Long Rib, Broken Rib, and Rogowski's Rib. Upon approach, the south face of Rogowski's Rib is highly impressive, much higher than everything to the south. Upon traversing into the gully between the Long and Knife Rib, one realizes that portions of Long Rib south wall are equally enticing. Viewing the area from Baylor Canyon Road, it is clear that the south face of the Knife Rib may be the biggest prize of all. The Rib Cage area is sufficiently large that it will need to be divided into sub-areas.
Placement of bolts/fixed anchors is prohibited in Wilderness Study Areas Details

Getting There

It takes about 1.5-2 hours to reach the base of the Rib Cage from the old abandoned mine house known as Topp Hut. Starting from Baylor Canyon Road, turn east onto the rough road (starting at lon 32.365709, lat -106.614493) leading up to Topp Hut. Drive up the road as far you can, if not to the hut itself. The approach trail starts from a metal pole sticking out of the ground about 200 feet west of the mine hut, and initially heads toward the S/SE direction (toward the NE base of a low hill). The entirety of the approach trail is shown in one of the beta photos. This trail utilizes the lower half of the Gertch trail before departing onto its own separate upper leg. A few rules of thumb: (1) It is critical to follow the rock cairns along the trail: if you lose sight of rock cairns, go back to the last one you saw and get back on trail. Otherwise, prepare yourself for a nightmarish bushwack through a wide variety of vegetation most of which fights back; (2) if you find yourself getting tangled in catclaw thorn bushes still attached to the ground, you are off trail. If you see rock cairns and/or evidence of catclaw, grass, or prickly-pear having been cut, you are on trail; (3) the tunnel through this mess is complete and the full length is marked with rock cairns, but keep in mind that it meanders a bit to take advantage of piles of boulders, isolated boulders, and other relatively easy terrain. Given increased traffic, the trail will become unmistakable.

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