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Big - T 

YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 20 British: E3 5b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, 350', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Lance Hadfield, Ian McMillan, Lee Brinckerhoff and Marc Beverly: 8/2005
Page Views: 1,686
Submitted By: Chuck McQuade on Jul 22, 2008

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P1) Some key bolts (6) with great gear opportunities in between lead to a 2-bolt anchor.

P2) Starts with bolted face climbing followed by great climbing through a series of small roofs and ledges leading to another 2-bolt anchor and the money headwall pitch of the climb.

P3) The crux pitch. The first bolt is right off the belay. Clip it, pull on a flake, and make a few moves to clip the next bolt. Balancy moves that force good posture take you through incredible face climbing to a thin crack, some more easy face climbing, and to a nice belay ledge.

P4) Essentially a lower 5th class scramble to the top.


30 yards north of Bush Shark Spire proper. Look for a bolt 10 feet off the ground near a large boulder


Small to medium trad rack, several draws as there are a number of bolts supplementing p1-p3. Use caution if rappelling the route with a 60m rope, the rap down to the p1 belay station is definitely a rope stretcher.

[ADMIN NOTE: I found that the following rack was sufficient for this climb: Camalots, single set: #00 to #1 C3, and 0.3 to #1; Nuts; 11 draws/slings.]

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 14, 2015
By Alam
Aug 26, 2007

The Big T is a stunning route for the Sandias. Rock quality is great. I found the last pitch to be harder than 5.10C even though it was my partner who lead that pitch (perhaps 10.d is more accurate), but then again I may be getting old.

From a historical note this route starts about 25 feet to the left of Threshhold (see old Hills sandia guide), which is again about 25 feet to the left of the bush shark spire start.

The first pitch ends at a 2 bolt belay and is about 25 feet to the left of the second pitch of Threshold. Big T follows the bolt line on the face up until it joins a crack system. The 2nd pitch of Threshhold uses the beautful hand crack on the right to work through the face, and then at the pin in the roof moves left to join the main crack system.

Big T joins the original Threshold route for the last 60 feet of pitch 2, ending in a 2 bolt belay. Threshold ends at the same spot, but was usually a marginal belay station with numerous small pieces - now you can use the big fat bolts for the belay!

Big T goes straight up with hard face climbing following the line of bolts. Threshold moves directly left from the belay to joint the large left facing dihedral-gully all the way to the top.

Note on these raps - the top bolts are very hard to locate. They are out on the point that has a tree, but are about 20 feet down the ledge, and are blocked from view above by a block... the gulley to the north can be done in about 15 mintues, bushy but is much faster than setting 2 raps.
By Anthony Stout
From: Albuquerque, NM
Aug 2, 2008
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

This route made for a great morning in the Sandias. Most of the rock quality was great, and the third pitch was thought provoking with all the balancy movement required. Small gear is helpful on the third pitch.

I am questioning if we may have been off route for the final fourth pitch because we did not see any bolted anchor and belayed from a tree at the summit.

Climbing the third pitch, it appears that there is another bolted route just to the right of Big T that joins it at the third belay anchor. We initially thought it was the Threshold route but looking at Alam's note above, it likely was not. It sounds like the threshold route branches left after the second pitch, while this line of bolts was to the right. They use the same bolt hangers as Big T, so I am assuming that the same individuals bolted the route. Does anyone have any idea what this route is?
By LeeAB Brinckerhoff
From: ABQ, NM
Aug 3, 2008
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b


The route to the right is Blood in the Water. Which is full bolted but you will need some finger sized cams to set the anchor for your belayer at the bottom of the pitch, in the notch btwn bush shark spire and the wall.

The FA party for the Big T included, Lance Hadfield, Ian McMillan, Lee Brinckerhoff and I belive Marc Beverly drilled some of the bolts as well. The route was put up in August of 2005 over 3 days.
By Mick S
From: Utah
Aug 12, 2008

The first bolt of the second pitch does not tighten down (as of Spring 2008). I had a nut tool/wrench and it just spins in the hole. Also the second bolt of the crux pitch may be bad. I didn't try tightening it down, since it's cruxy there, but it was loose. Sure made the climbing seem harder, I thought it was .11-.

The first time I climbed the route (Summer 2006), the bolts looked fine. I assume someone fell on the bolt on the crux pitch to loosen it.
By Mick S
From: Utah
Dec 1, 2008

Maybe someone tightened them back down?
By mattb19
Jul 26, 2009
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

Does anyone know when the bolt was added to the third pitch where you traverse out left? I climbed the Big T in May and thought that it seemed really hard since I used the one hand hold for a piece of gear. Man the climb is much easier now with that bolt. I kinda of enjoyed it without the bolt.
By LeeAB Brinckerhoff
From: ABQ, NM
Jul 26, 2009
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

The bolt was not "ADDED", it was replaced after some unknown party decided to chop it. You can still see the broken off stud near-by. The original bolt was put in by the FA party for the reason you cite as well as the fact that the gear that goes in that litttle pod is not all that great. Lets hope this does not happen again, if someone doesn't like a bolt they could always skip it, really what is the point...are they trying to say that they are a bigger BAD A$$ than everyone else, routes are not allowed to be safe and convinient???
By mattb19
Aug 17, 2009
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

I guess I did not notice the chopped bolt the first time. I was so gripped from trying not to fall. That is too bad someone chopped that bolt.
By ReubenG
Jul 13, 2010

good route! I thought p1 was the crux. p3 was technical, but I never felt pumped where I was horribly pumped on p1. I would give it a solid 10c.

The movement was awesome. The bolting was not quite "sandia" style. Several bolts were less than a foot from decent gear, not great, but decent. Most of the bolts were absolutely essential and I was glad to clip them, but I can see why people are on the chopping path.

The crux bolt was questionable but the next bolt is fairly easy to reach.

The only bad part of the climb is the 4th pitch which is really just a stack of boulders...but alas its the sandias.
By Bob Graham
Sep 30, 2012

We rappelled in with 1 70 meter rope off of the bolts down below the tree, it worked great. I wonder what the bolted line is off to the left going up the steep face on pitch 2? Good route pitch 3 is very fun interesting face climbing and sustained. The recommended gear in the admin note was right on thanks.
By LeeAB Brinckerhoff
From: ABQ, NM
Oct 1, 2012
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

Bob, Sorry, the sort of the routes was off, the line to the left of the second pitch is Curfew 5.12+. I've corrected the location of Curfew to reflect this.
By lance hadfield
From: tijeras
Sep 14, 2015

this is the first time I read all the talk about this climb. Ian and I bolted this line but mostly me. Lee bolted his line from mine, and Marc Beverly added the bolt without asking and contacted me later to say it seemed unsafe and that was why he added it. Even though Ian and I climbed it several times without it it was much better and in the nature I hoped for with the new bolt in that crux part of the climb. I never found out who chopped the bolt but am grateful to whom ever replaced it. I bolted this line in memory of my chocolate Lab Tobie.

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