Type: Trad, Alpine, 200 ft
FA: Gary Hicks, 1979
Page Views: 1,220 total · 11/month
Shared By: George Perkins on Oct 25, 2009
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

You & This Route

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


Seamingly Hard is the often-admired-but-less-often-climbed slab left of Gemstone, and is a nice sustained thin face climb.
It seams a little close to easy ground to the left at the beginning, but soon the quality of the moves makes up for that, as you follow a left-trending seam, passing 5(?) bolts. It's always a relief to get to the next bolt, the headiest part is a 20' runout at about the level of the Gemstone pitch 1 anchor. The crux is pulling a small roof after you clip the bolt after the runout. Next you'll join another left trending seam, passing a fixed pin, then the cracks widen and the climbing is noticeably easier. Find the Gemstone anchor.

  • It is possible to belay at the pitch 1 bolted belay for Gemstone, but linking these into a 200' pitch is more fun, and means no potential to fall on the belay at the start of what would be the 2nd pitch. The rope drag wasn't bad.
  • There are more bolts than shown in the guidebook, but you'll probably be glad they are there.
  • This will feel hard for the grade if you're not used to 5.10 slab. There aren't many like this in the Sandias, so it's hard to compare. If you feel good on this route, you're ready for Questa Dome and The Tooth and stuff like that.
  • This might be worth calling PG13 because it's a bit spacey between the bolts (especially compared to sport climbing areas), but it's not too scary by slab standards. I think the only really dangerous place would be if you fell right before the 2nd bolt. Don't do that.


The bolted route on the slab left of Gemstone is Seamingly Hard.

The easiest descent is to rappel with 2 ropes (or a single 70m rope?-which I haven't tried personally) from the anchor to the ground.


6 bolts and a pin. Supplement with nuts and cams up to 1". Larger (2"-3") cams could be placed in the upper easier section but smaller gear is also available.


- No Photos -
Will Vining
Will Vining  
Does anyone know the story behind the retro-bolting on this route, as noted in Mick Schein's new guide book. Which bolts are new? What was the original line? It seems like the original line went up the seam until almost even with the Gemstone P1 belay, then moved out onto the slab and clipped the final bolt before traversing into the anchors. With the new bolts the second to last bolt draws you out onto the slab early. I could be totally wrong about which bolts are new, but the last bolt looks much older than the others, and if you aren't doing it in one pitch (which would be great) it's more straightforward to just go straight up from the second-to-last bolt to the belay.

Regardless of the original line/reto-bolting rumours, this route has quality movement along the first seam, and good slab action on the second pitch. All the holds disappear at exactly the right moment.

I forgot to count while I was there, but I believe there are now five, not three, bolts along the initial seam. The second pitch remains the same, a bolt and a fixed pin, and protects adequately after the fixed gear. If you are doing this in one pitch the 20 ft. runout mentioned in the description is still there. May 14, 2015
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
There was an accident and rescue on the climb ca. 2009. 2 or 3 additional bolts were added after that occurred. The new bolts sort of also protected the R/X/TR climb to the right of p1 called Drunken Master, and it was suggested that the "new climb" be called "Seamingly Drunk". It's possible that the line that most people will climb now may not be 100% true to the original "Seamingly Hard" line.

Mick may have got this info on the new bolts from me, as I sent him some notes on fixed gear and other stuff when he was updating Sandia Rock.
Accident write-up:

Prior to the new bolts, both guidebooks probably should have always given this one an "R", but didn't, so it would have been easy to get into a dangerous situation. I remember downclimbing off of it without having reached what was at that time the 2nd bolt, about 10-12 years ago, when I felt the bolt spacing didn't meet my standards for my footwork. (Because I backed off, it must have been REALLY SCARY before! ha.) I think the current b2 is new, not sure on which others are.

I genuinely do not mean to put the new bolts in either a positive or negative light, just adding to the story. May 15, 2015
Will Vining
Will Vining  
Thanks, George. I was just curious about the story. Definitely glad the new bolts were there, this would be quite terrifying without them and certainly worthy of an R rating. Even with the new bolts the spacing is still fairly large, I would not want to fall on it. Still a fairly heads-up climb. May 18, 2015
David Baltz
Albuquerque, New Mexico
David Baltz   Albuquerque, New Mexico
I seem to remember getting some manky RP/steelies in the seam back in the day. I recall it being a typical Gary Hicks 'sphincter shrinker' route. The new bolts were most welcome. Apr 16, 2018