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Gertch's Folly T 
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Gertch's Folly 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 700', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: 1962?, P. Wohlt, R. Ingraham
Page Views: 3,691
Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Oct 26, 2006

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Gertch's Folly roofs--spring 1975 Glen Banks ...


One of the Classic climbs of the Organ Mts. It takes an obvious weakness up the cliff with mostly good rock, and comfortable belays. The last pitch tackles a headwall with beautiful exposure and clean granite.

Pitch 1: climb the corner under a large roof. Pass an old 1/4" bolt to a ledge just below the roof where another old 1/4" bolt is found. Belay from here, or continue up around the right side of the roof and belay at another large ledge with a tree.

Pitch 2: Continue up the corner/crack system for about 100 ft. At this point make an escape to large ledge (grassy in the right season) will be seen off to the right. This is the path of least resistance. If you keep going up the corner, you will run into some harder, and les sprotectable ground, and miss the good belay ledge.

Pitch 3: Climb up or around a short slab to a small overlap with a weakness in it. There is a fixxed nut and piton at the weakness. After cranking over this, continue up to a comforatble belay ledge aboce.

Pitch 4: the dirtiest pitch. Continue up the corner system for 50 ft, where there is a chimney like move to gain a slab ampitheather above. Once on the open slab, pick from the many nice belay stances.

Pitch 5: Very short. Head up the slab to the headwall and traverse to the right side. Turning around the corner here is an exposed move and quite exhilierating. A hanging belay is found directly around the corner (out of sight from your belayer).

Pitch 6: from the hanging belay a piton can be seen where 3 small rooflets break the headwall. climb towards these. This is the crux pitch, with great exposure and very clean, almost featureless rock. 2 pitons protect the first two rooflets, afterwhich ample gear placements can be found. A good reach and a cool head will help surmounting these.

Above the rooflets, run out the rope to the top of the ridge.


The route is identifiable from the approach as a large corner system which leans slightly to the right, and ascends to the half-way point of the face. An excellent topo and route description was written by Charlie Cundiff and is available at the NMSU climbing wall. See Gertch for descent description.


Standard rack.

Photos of Gertch's Folly Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: P3 of Gertch's Folly
P3 of Gertch's Folly
Rock Climbing Photo: Gertch's Folly, old Southwestern Mountaineers 1980...
BETA PHOTO: Gertch's Folly, old Southwestern Mountaineers 1980...
Rock Climbing Photo: Coming around the corner high on Gertch's Folly.
Coming around the corner high on Gertch's Folly.
Rock Climbing Photo: Gertch's Folly Topo
BETA PHOTO: Gertch's Folly Topo
Rock Climbing Photo: We found great belay ledges for P3 about 60' too e...
BETA PHOTO: We found great belay ledges for P3 about 60' too e...
Rock Climbing Photo: Top of Gertch:  Spring Break 1975--photo by probab...
Top of Gertch: Spring Break 1975--photo by probab...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up at the first pitch, which passes to the...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up at the first pitch, which passes to the...

Comments on Gertch's Folly Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 31, 2015
By Karl Kiser
Apr 2, 2008
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

FA by Paul Wohlt and Dick Ingraham. They rated it 5.7 but 5.8 is probably a more fair rating. Harder and straighter variation pitches below the top overhangs have been climbed.
By Doug Roberts
From: Santa Fe
Jan 18, 2011

This is my favorite climb in the Organs. The triple overhangs had to have been a spectacular first ascent. The FA was done with the belayer around the corner, out of sight of the leader. The final pitch hanging belay on the slab beneath the overhangs was put in later.
By Steven Reneau
May 18, 2011

Great climb, once the nasty >2 hr approach is behind you. Crux for me was pulling past the p3 piton, which seemed harder than 5.8. Exhilarating is a good way to describe the end of p5 (fun). Hanging belay below p6 consists of 2 ¼” bolts that can be backed up with gear.
By E Wydeven
From: Austin, TX
Feb 22, 2012

How are the bolts on the hanging belay. I am planning on climbing this route in April, but I have never done a hanging belay and hanging off of two old 1/4 inchers seems kind of sketchy. What's up there to back them up? If there are a bunch of cracks, are they good? If so, why the bolts?
By Chris Wenker
From: Santa Fe
Feb 24, 2012

The hanging belay isn't truly a 'hanging' belay, if that's defined as an anchor where you're fully weighting the bolts and there are no other options on a purely blank vertical face. I recall it as a ramplike setting, pretty exposed, with decent options for backing up the bolts with gear; we had no problems there.

It's the rappel stations in the south descent gully that will get your attention though. The first consists of a rusty pair of ~5/16" (?) bolts (which can be backed up for the first descender). The second station is a newer single ~3/8" bolt, which can also be backed up for the heavier person going first.

Great route though.
By E Wydeven
From: Austin, TX
Apr 20, 2012

Thanks Chris. Our date got pushed back and we are now set to go in a couple of weeks. One more question though: due to the extra long approach -- and previous visits have shown us that we can about double the times listed to get to the base of most Organ climbs -- I'm hoping to go as light as possible, and I'm wondering what pro is essential to the climb. Our rack is pretty large and contains doubles in some of the mid sizes (BD .75 through #3). With that in mind, is there need for us to bring a #4 on up? Is there placement potential for a BD 4, 5, or 6?
By Forrest Wilcox
From: Las Cruces, NM
Sep 30, 2012

there are a few hard parts on this climb but nothing a 5.8-5.9 leader cant handle. In the decsent gully on the south, the chains are hidden behind a big slab, once you get to the bottom of all the bushes in the gully follow the stream bed all the way down until it is a straight down cliff, the chains are right on the edge
By Forrest Wilcox
From: Las Cruces, NM
Sep 30, 2012

approach on west side involves brutal bushwack for miles, east side approach might be doable but i have not tried it.
By Robert Cort
Oct 5, 2012

East side approach would be okay to the top of Big Windy Canyon, but the descent through the canyon to the base of the climb is pretty brushy (but at least not as much cat-claw).
By Reed Cundiff
Nov 23, 2012

This is one of the easiest approaches and descents in the Organs. We just walked off the backside and down Big Windy Canyon in the 50s through 70s. I noted a really big black rattlesnake on a boulder right along the descent around 1969 (it was cold and he wasn't doing much) and remarked to Bill Hackett that he shouldn't put his hand on the boulder. I received an end of the day blistering for BS'ing him and then he saw the snake. Of course we sometimes stumbled across the desert in the dark as we achieved what Dick Ingram would called "Organ Sainthood" e.g. 'to embrace the cholla and stumble flat onto the prickly pear.
By Dan Carter
From: Las Cruces, NM
Mar 2, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Approach: from Aquirre Springs. Time to the Big Windy Canyon Saddle, below low horn 1, was about an hour. Down the canyon and to the base of the climb, another 2 hrs. Classic Organs bushwacking but from the east there is less cat claw to battle. One could probably do this fast but this our first time to approach Gertch.

Most of the pitches are around 5.7-5.8 but the last pitch had a 5.9 move or two, especially if you're shorter. The pitch descriptions on this page are spot on. 6 pitches is a good break to prevent rope drag. Communication can be difficult between 3 and 4 and 5 and 6. Good exposure and classic Organs climbing on mostly good rock.

Descent: Walk off the north side of Low Horn 1 back to the Big Windy Saddle to where we left our packs. Finding the trail was easier going down and we were back at the car in under an hour.

I think the west approach would be shorter if there was a trail and one didn't have to wade through cat claw.
By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Nov 3, 2013
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Chris Wenker remarked about the westward descent that is south of Gertch: "It's the rappel stations in the south descent gully that will get your attention though."

Agreed! (as of 1 Nov 2013) And they are NOT readily/easily backed up but can be with some effort.
By Justin.Hall
From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Dec 16, 2013

Awesome climb every pitch has something new and interesting to climb. Went with 3 other people from car to car 10 hours.
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
Dec 17, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

East side approach: Go up the north fork of the Pine Tree Trail up to a gully with a short, thick, black log in the middle of it at the bottom. Almost immediately take off to the left of the gully and go up a shallow draw. When the vegetation starts to be too thick to be comfortable ahead, go right and up the gully from there. It will be mostly rock rubble and decent this high up. Drop your packs at the Big Windy Saddle. Bushwhack down the west side. Go down the gully and then over discontinuous fields of large boulders marked occasionally with cairns and overgrown in places.

Dan Carter’s directions: “Go down just far enough until you can cross over towards the south and into the canyon leading up to Gertch. Hike up this canyon towards. As you get close to the formation you'll see a big alcove straight ahead, this is on the south side of Gertch. When you get close to the alcove, head to the left and up a smaller canyon at the base of Gertch. Follow this up and over some boulders and look for the start on the left. It is just above a boulder you have to climb up. You should be able to see a piton above the start.” (Our party went a bit higher, I think, by a more complicated route which involved some significant scrambling, but the bottom of the route, with its tree in a corner, was plainly visible and easy to navigate toward.)

Deproach: Go to the top of Gertch, such as it is (btw, there is an actual summit register here), and continue along the ridge about half way to the base of Low Horn 1 where a ramp takes off and provides a shortcut. Alternatively, you can go along the ridge until you are north of Low Horn 1 and then drop along the ridge line to the Big Windy Saddle. No rapping required.

The approach took a fairly strong team 3 and half hours. (For comparison the same team, going as a party of four, did the entire climb in 3 and half hours as well.)
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
Dec 17, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

A way to avoid the hanging belay, along with the possibility of loose rocks hitting said belay:
(As described, this works only with a 70m rope, but with 60m all you have to change is split pitch 4.)

Take Pitch 3 to the ledge which goes right from the bottom of the obvious right facing corner. The ledge is about 15 feet long, and you’ll be coming up at the right end of it.

Pitch 4, about 220 feet: Go up the dihedral to where a stretch of consistent-angle slab opens up on the right. Climb up this slab to near its upper right corner. Belay from a small ledge there. Make sure to place your anchor far enough to the right to avoid an excessive rope drag on the following pitch when you will turn the roof above on the right.

Pitch 5 will then be the crux, and last, pitch. It will include the airy traverse on the nearly vertical left side of the right facing corner you will move into once past the overhang. It will pass the old hanging belay (two old bolts), and go up the vertical to slightly overhanging corner with a jumble of thick flakes sticking into it and making into a series of overlap problems (the three rooflets of the description and the crux of the climb). There is at least one good-sized block there that looks loose and some smaller loose stuff is likely in spite of what we already cleaned.
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
Jan 1, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

West side approach: More painful, but definitely far less strenuous and shorter in terms of both distance and time (with much route finding, a long break, and plenty of gear, we made it in two and half hours).

Take off from Topp Hut Road at a stake just short of the hut. The trail, going more south than east and heading left of the small hill, is well marked with cairns and crosses terrain with low, harmless vegetation. The greenery gets worse after a while and the cairns disappear just as you need to cross a gully. The best way to do this seems to be to cross into the gully early, as soon as there is a row of large boulders to your right, even before the last of the cairns. Down in the gully is a wide cow trail you can follow for a bit before deciding on a good way up the other side. (We didn't really find a good one, just blasted through it.)

Once there, the cairns reappear and vegetation calms down. Life is good until the next gully, a wider one and without the cow trail. Again: no cairns, catclaw heaven, and this time large numbers of boulders. The best crossing we found was again on the west end of possibilities. The gully was wider there and the boulders large, but boulder hopping with some walk in the middle made it possible.

From the gully go straight for the hill to your south and go left on the trail at its base. It is a beauty - smooth, surrounded by soft grass and otherwise harmless greens. And it takes you all the way to the saddle.

From there the path of least resistance, according to Charlie Cundiff, is to stay low on the south side of the ridge heading for Gertch. I started that way and found an animal trail worth following and relatively little resistance even if the amount of prickly pear above me increased substantially. Eventually I gave it up and joined my partners who followed a line of cairns on the ridge line. This trail was well marked, but the catclaw density was high. Even weaving through it, we were getting marked heavily.

Staying low or high for the first stretch, eventually you do go onto the ridge where it gets steep. Once only couple hundred feet or so off the rock, traverse/drop into the gully on your left (the one coming out of the Escape Gully of Gertch) and take it to the cliff. Leave packs there and continue left along the rock to the climb.
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
Jan 12, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

For more information and photos you can check out adifferentkindofparadise.wordp...
courtesy of Dan Carter.
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
Mar 22, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

West side deproach: follow the ridge line of Gertch practically all the way to Low Horn 1. Drop down on the south side and continue down through the vegetation (mostly Apache plume). Curve slightly to the right and drop down into a steep gully. Several hundred feet of this and the gully will become more rocky. Look for a lone tree on the right with rap slings on it. It will be still well short of the drop off. A single, two-rope rappel with a pair of 70m ropes will take you to the ground below. With two 60m's, use either the lone bolt or the mid-size tree on a ramp below as an intermediate rap station. (Two ropes are required for descent.) Go down the gully. In the area of large trees cut to the right to reach the ridge line used for an approach, and your packs.

There is supposed to be a more direct rap line as well, but with questionable bolts. Going down Big Windy Canyon is possible but not recommended as reaching any part of the approach trail from there is cumbersome and time consuming.
By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Oct 31, 2015
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Well written deproach, Marta. Good to know that double ropes have some utility.

From experience and if one is up for gambling on a pair of quarter inch bolts followed by a single bolt for the second rap, find the pair of bad boys just over the edge on skiers left (very nice ledge to stand on). A single 60m rope works. ... if only those anchors were upgraded with modern bolts (they were not as of Nov 2013).

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