Type: Trad, Alpine, 700 ft, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: Rick Meleski, Doug Bridgers, 74
Page Views: 3,296 total · 23/month
Shared By: Chuck McQuade on Dec 30, 2006 with updates from Bill Lawry
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

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Access Issue: Seasonal raptor closure for some areas in the Sandias Details


If swinging leads, let your partner lead the first pitch, all the even numbered pitches are awesome!

P1: (5.7) Scrambling and easy dihedral climbing to a bolted anchor.

P2: (5.8+) Continue up, then a long traverse left. Climb the slightly runout face to an alcove belay.

P3: (5.7) Traverse up and right past a small tree to a hanging belay adjacent to the pitch 4 traverse. Hard route finding here.

A (5.9) variation to pitch 4 requires a slightly lower belay, the variation starts with a traverse left under a small roof, then continue up along a finger crack to join the standard pitch 4 at the crux roof.

P4: (5.8+) Make an improbable traverse to the left (small cams in horizontals), then pull a small roof (crux) to belay at a tree.

P5: (5.7) Climb up to an enormous ledge (lunch ledge).

P6: (5.8) Walk to end of lunch ledge (climbers right), follow corner systems on the ridge to the top. You will pass an old ring piton and a bolt. Good exposure on this pitch.


Standard rack: doubles Camalots (0.4-1), singles 2-3.


Morrison, CO
Monomaniac   Morrison, CO  
This is an excellent route!; one of the best long-ish moderates. The second pitch is stellar. We were able to link some pitches with a 60m rope. We linked P1 and P2 without any jiggery-pokery. I also linked P3 & P4, but this is super-not-recommended for several reasons. The first reason is that its not even remotely safe. Its not possible to link these pitches and place adequate gear (unless you have double ropes?), because if you did place adequate gear, the rope drag would be impossible. The second reason is that it doesn't save you anything. Pitches 5 & 6 are too long to link (with a 60m rope), so anyway you slice it, you have to climb at least 4 pitches. Since this is the case, it would be best to climb P3 as is, and link P4 & P5 instead. This provides the advantage of avoiding the P4 sling belay from the tree, which was relatively unpleasant.

There is a lot of fixed gear on the route. I suspect it would be pretty easy to rap from the top of the 4th pitch. It may even be possible to rap from that point with one 60m rope. May 15, 2007
Morrison, CO
Monomaniac   Morrison, CO  
Oh ya, some notes on the "hard route-finding" on P3: From the P2 Belay, climb up in the big right-facing corner until you are even with the small tree, which is 20 feet to the right of the dihedral. Getting off the belay ledge is a bit strenuous, so try not to land on your belayer!. Once even with the tree, traverse right, and slightly up (.5 Camalot placement). I wound up above the tree, and down-climbed easily to the ledge with the tree. Note a possible rap or belay anchor here.

From the tree, traverse right and slightly DOWN, along the easy ledge, for about 30 feet. Eventually you reach a broken area, where the rock has more fractures, and is less steep. There are a few loose blocks here, so be careful. Climb up and slightly right along the right margin of this feature for about 20 feet, then continue traversing right on easier terrain, until you reach a very un-Sandias-like, beautiful, splitter finger crack. This crack is perfectly straight, and offers excellent pro. This crack is only a few feet from the south arete of the Yataghan. Follow this crack for ~40 feet to the belay, just before the traverse left.

On the traverse, I started in the highest horizontal fissure, but after about 15 feet I down-climbed ~3 feet to the next lowest horizontal break. The crux seemed to be getting established in the first horizontal, right a tthe start of the traverse. May 15, 2007
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
The regular 5.8+ way is exciting enough and offers some unique pitches.

A harder option is the 5.10b Prandoni/McFarland direct variation to pitches 3+4; it is an excellent 160' pitch:
Stay in the left-facing corner above the 2nd belay, passing a few tricky sections which you pass by moving a move or two out onto the face. When you reach the big roof, traverse right, clip a 1/4" bolt above the lip of the roof, and keep traversing right to get to the 5.8+ exit through the roof, which is where you rejoin the standard Happy Gnome pitch 4. Belay at the tree just above the roof. The traversing part under the roof is 5.10 and not the best protected, so both leader and follower are looking at significant pendulum falls. ('Hikers & Climbers Guide' shows that one can also traverse right from the dihedral when you're about 20' below the roof, moving past a 2-piton anchor in the middle of the face- I did not try this, but it did not appear to be much better protected or easier.)

Didn't see a bolt on p6. Did see 2 fixed pins on it.

Beware of large loose blocks on pitches 1, 5, and 6. Sep 7, 2008
  5.8+ R
  5.8+ R
The 5.7R var. to the 2nd pitch I recall being rather spicy... poor pro with committing slab moves. Dec 3, 2008
Rob Aumer
Wheat Ridge, CO
Rob Aumer   Wheat Ridge, CO
Don't follow my gear!!

This past weekend, my climbing partner and I got off route in during the 3rd pitch. We miss the traverse right and ended up high into the large right facing corner. About 30m up from the second belay a human size block came off, nearly wiping out both of us. We were pretty shook up and decided to bail. Anyone who is not familiar with this route should be careful not to follow our gear (silver and red camalots, and a yellow stopper) thinking its the route.

PS. If there are any brave and kind souls who are going up there and wouldn't mind retrieving my gear, please email me. The silver cam took a 40 footer so it make be trashed, but I would love the other two pieces back. Aug 21, 2011
RB repeated this route earlier this year (early spring) and had two large blocks come off while doing it the standard way. He felt there were a number of other loose things on it. He's done this route many times over the years and it was only this year that the looseness showed up.

Very strange... Perhaps its freeze-thaw? Sep 8, 2011
Bill Lawry
New Mexico
  5.8 R
Bill Lawry   New Mexico
  5.8 R
"Perhaps its freeze-thaw?"

Interesting. Maybe it has something to do with the multiple days of extreme cold we had last winter. Perhaps the rock got colder deeper promoting some detachment through abnormal shrinkage inside? Sep 13, 2011
Eric Gotlieb
Albuquerque, NM
Eric Gotlieb   Albuquerque, NM
A wonderful climb. Mostly solid granite which was a pleasure to climb on, but typical of the Sandias there were a couple loose blocks which were avoidable with prudence. We brought a couple of pieces smaller than recommended (i.e. < 0.4) and were glad to have them, especially on the thinner sections. Sep 28, 2014
Eric Sorte
Albuquerque, NM
Eric Sorte   Albuquerque, NM
We also linked P1 and P2 (sort of accidentally as we couldn't find the alleged bolts that end P1). As stated above, linking those two is just fine.

We did the 5.10 face variation on pitch 4. It was a bit hard to protect, but the climb was great fun. There are two pitons on the face 10 feet below the roof and 20 feet left of the tree that starts pitch 5 that were slung with ratty old webbing. I tugged on it and it ripped about halfway through. I chopped the webbing, leaving the pitons which you can now clip.

On the descent, we followed the excellent beta on the home page, but missed the rappel section and ended up taking the alternate (a la Hill) down the tree-filled gully on the left. It's not horrible if you stay along the left cliff face all the way down. Otherwise, it's terrible sticker bushes for hours. With trying to figure out where we were and back tracking a bit and taking that longer path, it took us 2.5 hrs to get back to the base of the climb. Coupled with the hike out on La Luz, it made from a brutal exit.

Excellent climb, rough getting out! Jun 27, 2016
Eric Gotlieb
Albuquerque, NM
Eric Gotlieb   Albuquerque, NM
I recently re-climbed this route for the third time. Some safety beta:

1. The follower needs to be at least a strong 5.8 climber and comfortable with taking a fall on traverse. The p4 traverse in particular is stiff for the grade and may create a challenge for a follower who is out of their range. Normally it would be possible to have them prusik or pull on gear to get through a stiff section, but I'm not sure what the equivalent technique would be on a traverse. That said, the "improbable" nature of the p4 traverse does make it a lot of fun.

2. p2 is only "slightly runout" as described. If you think you are in 5.7 or 5.8 R or X territory, you are probably off route. Obviously we all have different ideas about what is and is not safe, but there are different ways to climb this pitch, some more protectable than others.

3. Take cautions about loose rock on this route seriously. I took a tumble on p1 along with several basketball sized rocks when the rock underfoot popped. I was lucky my rope did not get cut and my pro held (of course :). My belayer was safe by design, under a roof and out of the line of fire. Several years ago another friend, while building an anchor at the top of p1 accidentally pulled off a rock which cut his rope, stranding him at the belay. No doubt falling rock can be an issue on any climb, but Yataghan seems to keep warning myself and my friends (I've also dodged falling rocks on Frog).

4. Leave plenty of daylight for the descent. This does not get climbed often enough for there to be even the most meager of trails. It is no big deal to hike out on the La Luz in the dark, but hiking off trail on steep unfamiliar terrain by headlamp is a drag. I've been down both of the gully descents and don't strongly prefer one over the other. The one referenced here involves some down climbing over boulders and a very short rap. It feels like it has a little more exposure than the alternate, where you stay left of frog. That may be a little easier since it is just consistent steep forest/bushes; my experience there mirrored a previous commentator's in that it was possible to avoid any serious bushwhacking. Sep 19, 2016