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Shared By: Aaron Hobson on Nov 6, 2006
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Access Issue: Power drilling is prohibited in the Organ Mountains Wilderness. Details

Description

While not really a technical climb, this route is included here for reference. Other climbs in the area share the approach. Anyone serious about climbing in the vicinity of the Organ Needle should familiarize themselves with this "trail" as it is currently the best means of egress from the mountain.

A detailed description is also found at Ingraham's Climbing Site. web.nmsu.edu/~amato/ingraha…

The climb: Follow the approach of your choice (see below) to the "Yellow Rocks". Cross the gully to the south and follow cairns up the steep slope heading directly towards the grey rhyolite formation known as "the Grey Eminence". the trail meanders along the base of the "Eminence" eventually gaining a grassy saddle at its top, commonly referred to as "Juniper Saddle", owing to the once proud (now dead) Juniper the cut-down remnants of while still lay around.

From Juniper Saddle, hike directly up the slope until a smooth granite wall blocks passage. This wall is surmounted by scrambling up its right side. Traverse back over to the left. Continue up faint trails heading towards a large pine at the base of the Organ Needle. At this point you can enter "Dark Canyon", a narrow canyon formed between the Southwest flank of the Needle and a narrow cliff known as "The Retaining Wall".

At the top of Dark Canyon, a small saddle is passed and you drop down on the east side of the mountain to find the right gully which will take you to the top. Approximately 100ft from the saddle is a corner system which can be scrambled up. Near the top of this is a 15 ft section of exposed rock which must be surmounted to reach the summit. A narrow dike provides good hand and foot-holds, and it is no harder than 3rd class, but it involves some good exposure. A slip during this 15 ft climb would probably result in a fall which would land you all the way at the bottom of the corner-system.

Enjoy the summit!

Location

There are two common places to begin the approach: From La Cueva or from the end of the Modoc Mine Rd.

The approach from La Cueva starts by taking the trail to Fillmore Canyon. Ascend the canyon to its climactic end (if you're lucky a nice waterfall will be here). From here bushwhack to the top of the canyon on the north side and follow a faint and faintly marked trail through a mile of Cat's Claw, aiming for the the "Yellow Rocks". The yellow rocks are a formation near the base of the mountains of yellowish tan decomposing rock. In drier seasons when the creek is not flowing, one can also approach the Yellow Rocks by taking a trail off to the right just before you enter Fillmore Canyon (marked with a cairn). This takes you above the waterfall and ultimately into the canyon, which can be followed until just before the "Yellow Rocks".

The Modoc Mine approach offers less bushwhacking, but can be hazardous to your vehicle. The rd is located a few miles north of Dripping Springs rd off of Baylor canyon. It is not signed, but simply look for the first promising dirt track which breaks off the main rd and heads into the mountains. A few miles of very bumpy rd (high clearance a must) brings you to an unlocked gate. Beyond which, a few more miles ascends increasingly deteriorating rds (4x4 a must. Plus good off-roading techniques)up switchbacks to a grassy knoll. If you've dared to drive up here, go ahead and park. From the top of this knoll, hike down the rd to the south and ascend the next knoll over. The rd ends here. Look for a faint trail heading south. It descends into a gully and continues traversing south where it ends up at the base of the "Yellow Rocks"

Protection

Protection is generally not needed. However, some parties may find the 3rd class section too exposed. Often these members of the party get to wait here while everyone else summits, but if you bring a short rope (~20m) and a few slings you can rig up something to give reassurances to these folks.

Learning the landmarks is key. take time during your hike to try to identify these ahead of time, as you will find that the closer you get, the less clear things are.

Photos