Type: Trad, Alpine, 400 ft, 4 pitches
FA: Davito Hammack, Dan Buck, Cliff Thomas 1974
Page Views: 793 total · 13/month
Shared By: Chris Wenker on Nov 14, 2013
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


This is a decent shortish backcountry route, described by Hill (1993:165), and by Schein (2013).
P1 heads up over an arching, left-facing left-leaning corner, leading to some wandering face climbing to the right to a 2-bolt anchor (~30m). The first bolted anchor for Halfbreed lies about 8 feet to the right. P2 leads through a deep but short left-facing corner (crux). Then either head right to belay at a 6" diameter tree, or Hill's topo suggests a belay farther left (~45m). P3 heads slightly left through bulges to a bolted anchor shared with Twist o flex (~30m), although other options are probably also available. P4: easy 5th leads to a ramp, 3rd/4th class then to the saddle between the summits.


If approaching from the Crest, it works OK to hike first to the saddle south of the Thumb's summits, and then clamber/downclimb/rappel down the southwest face (take some webbing to refresh the rap anchor?). Hill also suggests hiking around from the base of the northwest ridge would work.
Find the start at the base of the waterstains, to the right of Twist-O-Flex and left of Halfbreed. Take the standard descent off the south ridge.
NB: In the 3rd edition, 1st printing (1993) of Hill's guidebook, the topo (pg. 167) correctly shows this route as #11, but his photo topo (pg. 166) incorrectly has it marked as #9. In the 3rd ed., 2nd printing (1996) and 3rd printing (2000), the photo topo is correctly numbered.


Single set of nuts, doubles of cams to 2.5 inches seemed to work. Some sections of P1-P3 may be vaguely R rated in 5.7 terrain. Bolted anchors at top of P1 and P3.


George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
  5.8 PG13
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
  5.8 PG13
Unlike most of the other "moderates" more than 2 pitches long in the Sandias, Water Stains has wonderful rock quality throughout and none of the bushes or choss pitches that are ubiquitous on most other comparable routes here. Worthy of more traffic, but unlikely to see it because it is runout in sections and because of the extra effort required to approach it. May 11, 2015
Dana J Patton
  5.8+ PG13
Dana J Patton   Albuquerque
  5.8+ PG13
We approached from the south (recommended). Head for the standard descent route walk off, but instead of scrambling up through the notch onto the Thumb, head SE down a short gully, scramble W across and up on easy 4th to a tree. We refreshed webbing and put a ring on it. Rap WNW down the notch. A second rappel is found lower down. We added some webbing here too. Tie end stoppers here for sure. Walk NW to base of climb under obvious streaks.

I thought P1 was easy climbing, but very runout. Also, you'll find Davito's bolts on top of a block a bit right of the line over by the big water stain. John's bolt is about 8 feet right and much better. Make a belay here with a green Alien or .3 C4. It's a better anchor and more comfortable than the original spot.
P2 has good gear. The crux corner is tough for the grade especially if wet. Powerful movers over a bulge in the corner about mid way up it with a long reach to good jugs with stemmed feet. Then a second crux at the top of the dihedral. Step around right to an airy position up through the streak to the tree/ ledge. Or you can go left to some small gear, over a bulge, and back right to the tree. Preferred if the streak is wet, just use long slings for rope drag. Excellent pitch!
P3 goes up a ramp to the left with OK gear. A couple of moderate moves at steeper bulges, but generally easy. Trend left looking for good bolts with a bit of runout up to the anchor.
P4 is easy 5th, but very loose, so watch out for your belayer! It's about 30m to a belay tree in the notch between the summits. Standard walk off Jul 13, 2015