Type: Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III
FA: Jay Evans & Carlos Buhler spring 1974
Page Views: 582 total · 13/month
Shared By: Bill Lawry on Apr 20, 2015
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


Windy Ridge is the obvious south ridge of Hail Peak. See the right-hand ridge line in the below photo. For this route, it is better to travel down the east side of Hail Peak as opposed to down its' west side. The east side has less severe bushwhacking and avoids losing some elevation only to have to hike back up to the start of the route.
West side of Hail Peak, in January 2010. Photo taken from lower in Domingo Baca Canyon.


The description in Hill's guide is good overall. It lists two starts for P1: a) at the base of the ridge or b) at a cave-like chimney on the east side of the ridge roughly 100 feet above the "actual base" of the ridge; here is a picture of the cave:
Pitch 1: Cave start of Windy Ridge

[Near the cave start, we couldn't easily discern a start at the ridge base - could this start actually be a "little spur just southwest of the beginning of the ridge" as discussed in recent conversations with Gary Lee Hicks? Plus, the actual base of the ridge is not so well defined as viewed from the east side. And, as viewed from the west, the base of the ridge is probably much further than 100 feet down from the cave.]

Hill's guide rates the first pitch as 5.7. The cave start is on the edge between 5.7 and 5.8 by today's standards. At the same time, it can feel uncomfortably hard if one stays sucked into the back near the chockstone. Also, we belayed just after exiting from the cave (~1/2 inch gear) rather than continuing another ~30 feet up to the ridge as Hill suggests for P1. On the other hand, doing all of that in one pitch may minimize the chance of hitting your belayer with loose rocks from higher up.

The rest of the route is mostly easier and not any harder. Follow the ridge line including an obvious chimney in the middle of a very large steep face. For the terrain that is within ~35 meters before the chimney pitch, use care in choosing your way to avoid a lot of rope drag; that stretch also has a lot of poor-quality rock.

The last significant pitch avoids the steep top of the ridge by traversing rightward / upward on "smooth slabs" to a large tree on a huge ledge (see below photo). After that, another 35 meters of 3rd class gets one to a few fifth class moves going up around a clean off-width crack for about 20 feet.
Our pitch 6: follow the rope to the rightward escape via smooth slabs to the large tree.

From the top of the route, it's around a 300 foot scramble to the north end of Hail Peak for descending the North Ramp route.


Standard rack to 3 inches. Some pitches (most?) are greater than 30 meters - a 60 meter rope works fine, and the ledges for belays are mostly ample.

We took 15 stoppers, 3 hexes from ~1 to ~3 inches, and about 5 cams from 1/2 inch to 3 inches. An additional 4 inch cam is nice for the ~30 foot dihedral/crack/"groove" just above the cave.