Type: Trad, Alpine, 700 ft, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: Jack Jutz & Paul Wohlt on 9/17/1966 then FFA by Gary Hicks & Jim Fuge on 10/3/1976
Page Views: 103 total · 2/month
Shared By: Bill Lawry on Nov 15, 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 the third of three Gary Hicks' routes I've done based strictly on Hill's guide - the others being Hail Peak's Poker and Ego Boost's Diagonal. In all cases the detailed descriptions were quite accurate. There's a little more detail below.

Hill's guide lists West Face Direct as a 5.8 route. By today's standards, getting past the "nest of pitons" seemed the crux of the route at 5.9/5.10. At the same time, we didn't much use the described wide crack to the left of the pitons because it was running with water.

  • P1 (5.8?) - End this on the right-sloping part of the belay ledge.
  • P2 (5.7) - Traverse right 10 feet or so to get off the belay ledge, then go mostly straight up to a tree starting with a fun lie-back crack.
  • P3 (5.8?) - Pretty obvious and ends at a good belay ledge. The piton is easily backed up.
  • P4 (5.8/5.9/5.10?) - The crux would be climbing through the "nest of pitons" although the wide crack to the left might be easier. Hill's guide indicates to climb the crack itself but we didn't because it was running with water.
  • P5 (5.7) - We went straight up which veers slightly rightward of the trend of the last pitch. I believe the described line for this pitch starts a little more in line with the last pitch's trend.

Hope to get back to this route for some pictures and to polish the pitch descriptions a bit. Meanwhile, post up if you have first-hand info!


See Mike Hill's guide, third edition. Amazingly, 37 years later the dead tree at the start is still there.


Standard rack. There are pitons on the route. The "nest of pitons" on pitch 4 might be backed up by something in the nearby wide crack which may or may not be running with water. Speaking of water - if doing the route a few days after a good rain, every pitch is likely to have some water on it although it all seemed manageable.

Have I mentioned water enough? :-)


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