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Routes in Shield

Chicken Chop Suey T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R
Knife Edge T Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c
Odyssey, The T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Once In A Blue Moon T 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Procrastination T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
Promise Land, The T 5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
Purple Haze T 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c A4+ R
Rainbow Dancer T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
Route 2 T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13
Route 6 T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Slipping Into Darkness T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Smorgasbord T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Standard S Route T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Type: Trad, Alpine, 900 ft, 6 pitches, Grade II
FA: Jack & LaDonna Kutz, Bob Kyrlach, Pete Skaates, Paul Wohlt, Dave Logan May 1966
Page Views: 1,131 total · 11/month
Shared By: Bill Lawry on Aug 17, 2009
Admins: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

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Seasonal Falcon Closure Details
Juan Tabo Canyon is subject to annual access closures from March 1 to August 15. Details


I had labeled this as Hill's Route 2. Then Chris Wenker pointed out that it appears that the description in Hill's guide was copied out of Kline's. So I've shortened the name to just Route 2.

Dean Kuethe and I started at the middle of the base of the buttress. For us the mystery about this route is whether there really is a 5.6 way to do the first two pitches. Both the left side side and the right side side of the buttress have viable starting pitches. There is a bushy crevice in the left side of the buttress. We did not try it, but suspect it might be the original start that goes at 5.6. We were drawn by rock to the right, which lookes more like a rock climb than a scrambling bush wack, but by no means claim this was a wise decision.

P1 (5.7+, PG13): This above photo shows our start. Start up near the middle of the buttress (possibly a little right of the middle) over large cracked blocks to a ledge ~20 feet up. Work through the steep hand crack formed by a curving orange-lichen flake with black waterstains to the right of it. Continue to follow the weakness above, which directs you up a right-facing corner. At about 25 meters of rope there are precariously stacked blocks in the corner with hand and finger cracks on respective sides. DOK vaguely recalls (from an ascent over a decade ago) that continuing past them reduces the grade of the first two pitches to 5.7. Being over a decade older, we struck out right and up to find occasional protection in solid rock. Continuing up and right, an unexpected and welcome small belay ledge in a right facing corner appears at about 30 m of rope.

P2 (5.8+, PG13): Work slightly left and then up through a short and shallow chimney to a small roof; there is some crumbling rock in the back of the chimney. Pass through the roof (crux) and slightly higher until possible to trend left on very run-out moderate terrain back into the weakness we left in P1 (back "on route"?). Continue straight up through continuing sections of run-out on moderate terrain to a ledge at the top of the buttress. The ledge is larger than a dinner table and covered with grass. A 50 meter pitch.

P3 (5.4R): Now one can boogie for a few pitches . . . Head straight up off the ledge and onto easy runout slab for 60 meters to large trees. If the belayer does not use the rope to tie in, a 60 m rope will make it to the trees. This is the nice pitch.

P4 (a few 5.5 moves): Now, the climb follows the obvious ledge that diagonals left and up for two pitches. Ascend easy ledges about 60 meters to a ~10 inch diameter tree that is about 7 feet higher than a large flat platform. Tree is two thirds dead (Aug 2009) and not the only option for an anchor. 60 m.

P5 (a few 5.5 moves): Continue in about the same trajectory as P4 for roughly 30 more meters. There is a small tree out on the end of the ledge but we went up before reaching the tree and set a gear anchor in good cracks. 35 m. The below photo was taken from the end of our P5, and identifies some features around P6.

P6 (couple 5.7 moves): This pitch trends rightward and up, at first on good quality rock which soon deteriorates. This pitch would probably be 5.6 if one follows the obvious weakness and pulls on the spectacularly-precarious-looking, bus-size broken block. Rather we stayed to the left of it to climb atop a less-precarious-looking boulder whose underside forms an overhang. The route ends at the "W" of the Knife Edge, near the lowest SE point of the "W". Removed a fixed nut with a rusty wire on this pitch.

We then went down the Knife Edge to pick up dropped gear at its base (and water!!) and then returned via established trails.

Thanks to mtnrobb for posting the below photo. Hill's Route 2 starts just to the right of the darkest waterstains that are in the sun. The snow in the photo made it possible to identify the end of Pitch 3 at the big trees as well as the general trend of the traverse ledges of Pitches 4 & 5.


The route starts at the base of a shallow ~250 foot tall buttress in the middle of the west half of The Shield.


A standard rack to 3.5 inches is sufficient however, a small SLC (e.g., #1, perhaps #0, TCU) is handy for the belay at the end of the first pitch and small tricams were handy in the run out sections.
In October of 85 Rich Albein and I put up a direct finish to routes 2 and 3. It went at about 5.9 and was very run out. We could see the mass ascent at the Balloon Fiesta from the base of the wall. It started snowing on the last pitch, and we topped out in blizzard conditions. Finishing the Knife Edge was harrowing, as was the walk back toward the crest parking lot. We had planned to take the tram down, but it was after midnight when we got to the lot and the tram was long closed. We figured we were going to bivy, but there was a guy in a truck in the lot. He couldn't get it started. I managed to get it going and he gave us a lift. We barely got the truck down the crest road before the troopers closed it. Ski resort opened the next day. May 11, 2011
Bill Lawry
New Mexico
Bill Lawry   New Mexico
Chris, You mentioned Kline seeming to start the route on the right side of the buttress. The crack there is quite attractive for a ways (one pitch?). On a different day and on the way to different route, I noticed one can hike for a few minutes SE of the buttress to get a better look at the terrain between the top of the crack and the top of the buttress. Some study with binoculars might inspire.

The description has been updated based on my partner's recollection (Dean Kuethe). Nov 11, 2009
Chris Wenker
Santa Fe
Chris Wenker   Santa Fe
Also named "Route 2" in Kline's 1970 guidebook. It looks like Hill copied his first 9 routes on the Shield straight out of Kline.
Kline called Route 2 "Class 5, hard." Route 6 and Procrastination were the only other "hard" routes on the Shield in Kline's guide, if that helps. Who knows where Hill got his ratings?
It's hard to tell in my copy, but Klines photo topo seems to place the start of Route 2/3 on the right side of the buttress (but some of Kline's photo topos may be slightly inaccurate). Hill seems to plot the start on the left side of the buttress instead. Sep 14, 2009