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Organ Mountains

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High Horns, The 
La Cueva 
Low Horns, The 
Needle and Squaretops 
North Organs 
Rabbit Ears Area 
South Organs 
Sugarloaf Area 
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Organ Mountains Rock Climbing 

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Location: 32.3436, -106.562 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 136,981
Administrators: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Jan 23, 2006
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [2 people like this page.]
Little Square Top (left), The Wedge, and Third Pea...


This eye-catching mountain range is just east of Las Cruces. There's probably more climbing here than one could do in a lifetime. However, the long approaches over hot and unfriendly desert have kept the crowds away. The original Spanish name of the Organ Mountains was Sierra de la Solidad - Mountain of Solitude, and the name fits to this day. Off trail, and almost everything is off trail, the mountain range is ragged enough to be nearly deserted. If you do go there, plan on being self-sufficient. Be prepared to provide your own rap stations even on "established" rap routes. Cell reception is generally decent, but other than that, expect to be on your own.

Some favorites which may appeal to you, depending on what you are after:
Easy climbing made adventurous by long runouts on ultra-long routes – Sugarloaf
Classic lines up a steep, clean granite – The Tooth
Sun in winter – Southern Comfort Wall
Shade in the summer – The Citadel
Climbing within the sight of the parking lot – La Cueva
Bouldering – Pena Blanca
An impressive summit gained with some effort – The Wedge

Overview of Areas
The mountain range divides naturally into North and South Organs. South Organs are largely off limits, being on Fort Bliss or White Sands Missile Range, and for the most part decidedly chossy. Almost all of the climbing here is in the southwestern end at Pena Blanca, and it is predominantly bouldering.

The northern half of the the range is granite. It starts from the south with the Organ Needle and Square Top area and continues with High Horns and Low Horns. Going north, the range splits into two parallel lines of peaks - Rabbit Ears in the east and Rabbit Ears Towers in the west - separated by Rabbit Ears Canyon. The north end is again basically a single chain of peaks which gets progressively less rocky.

Separate from the main line of the range, approximately east from the Needle is Sugarloaf. It is also granite, but it is an exfoliation dome studded with chicken heads rather than the blocky terrain typical of the rest of the range.

Also away from the main ridge line, low in the west and close to Fillmore Canyon (the line separating North and South Organs), is La Cueva.

Listing of areas (generally from north to south)
North Organs
.....The Diamond

Rabbit Ears Area
. Eastern line of peaks
.....Last peak
.....The Cwm
.....North Rabbit Ear
.....Middle Rabbit Ear
.....South Rabbit Ear
.....Pyramid of South Rabbit Ear

. Western line of peaks
.....The Citadel
.....Shortline Wall
.....Lesser Spire

. Western foothills
.....Rabbit Ears Slabs
.....Hot Gates
.....Northern Exposure Wall
.....The Fin
.....Southern Comfort Wall
.....Bastion Wall

The Low Horns
.....Low Horn 1
.....Low Horn 2
.....Low Horn 3
.....Low Horn 4
.....Low Horn 5
.....Low Horn 6

The High Horns
. The line of the peaks
.....The Spike
.....The Spire
.....Lost Peak
.....The Wedge

. The western foothills
.....The Tooth

Needle and Squaretops
.....Little Squaretop
.....Organ Needle
.....The Retaining Wall
.....Minerva's Temple

Sugarloaf Area
.....Sugarloaf's Stepchild
.....East Slabs

La Cueva
.....Shady Side
.....Sunny Side

South Organs
.....Achenbach Canyon
.....Long Canyon
.....Pena Blanca

Getting There 

Approaches can be made from several spots. The Dripping Springs recreation area, the Topp Hutt and Modoc Mine roads off of Baylor Canyon road, and Aguirre Springs campground.

Expect 1-3 hours for the approach and be prepared for desert sun and plenty of hostile plants.


Bouldering in the Pena Blanca area is covered in New Mexico Organ Mountain Bouldering Guide possible to find at

The guidebook "Rock Climbing New Mexico" by Dennis Jackson has a short section that is useful for climbing in the Organs. A new edition is now out (2006) and includes a bit more info on the area.

A few online resources are helpful. R.L Ingraham Guide to the Organs This is a guide written in the 70's and gives descriptions of most peaks and approaches.

To appreciate the early pioneers, Dick Ingraham in particular, and to get a feel for what it was like back then you can check

There is also a series of Topos (Rock & Ice #48 for one) for some of the more popular walls. However, it lacks detailed route descriptions and the topos have now been posted to Mountain Project into the relevant areas. If you need more information feel free to contact Marta Reece.

Climbing Season

Weather station 10.4 miles from here

314 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',7],['3 Stars',94],['2 Stars',99],['1 Star',102],['Bomb',5]

Classic Climbing Routes in Organ Mountains

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Organ Mountains:
White Lightning   V2 5+     Boulder   The Volcano : The Rave
Boyer's Chute   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad, 5 pitches, 800'   Rabbit Ears Area : North Rabbit Ear
North Face   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R     Trad, 9 pitches, 1800'   Sugarloaf Area : Sugarloaf
West Ridge   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 6 pitches, 650'   Rabbit Ears Area : The Citadel
The West Ridge   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 5 pitches, 500'   The High Horns : The Wedge
Left Eyebrow   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R     Trad, 9 pitches   Sugarloaf Area : Sugarloaf
Lowenbrau Light   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches, 180'   Rabbit Ears Area : Southern Comfort Wall
Gertch's Folly   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 5 pitches, 700'   The Low Horns : Gertch
Wish You Were Here   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 150'   Rabbit Ears Area : The Citadel
Margaritaville   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 250'   Rabbit Ears Area : Southern Comfort Wall
Black Velvet   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   Rabbit Ears Area : Southern Comfort Wall
The Nose   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 140'   Rabbit Ears Area : The Citadel
Shillelagh   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 5 pitches, 800'   The High Horns : The Wedge
Speak in English   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     TR, 50'   The Garden : El Diablo Spire
Tooth or Consequences   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 4 pitches, 550'   The High Horns : The Tooth
Tooth Fairy   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 4 pitches, 450'   The High Horns : The Tooth
Finger Zinger   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b PG13     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Rabbit Ears Area : The Citadel
Tooth Extraction   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 5 pitches, 500'   The High Horns : The Tooth
Science Friction (to Left Eyebrow)   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 9 pitches, 800'   Sugarloaf Area : Sugarloaf
El Diablo   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     TR, 50'   The Garden : El Diablo Spire
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Organ Mountains

Featured Route For Organ Mountains
Rock Climbing Photo: North Face route. Photo litld01.

North Face 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b New Mexico : Organ Mountains : ... : Sugarloaf
The impressive and long North face of Sugarloaf attracts climbers like no other formation in the Organs. This route makes the most of the long continuous North face, climbing anywhere from 9 do 11 pitches to reach the summit. Trying to describe each pitch in details not really in the spirit of the climb, as there are as many variations as pitches. At the same time getting off-route on these hard-to-protect slabs can spell some bad situations. After much soul searching, I decided to include a det...[more]   Browse More Classics in New Mexico

Photos of Organ Mountains Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: A snowy October day.
A snowy October day.
Rock Climbing Photo: This photo of Sugarloaf was shot from the base of ...
This photo of Sugarloaf was shot from the base of ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Third Peak (lowest), Lost Peak (middle), and The W...
Third Peak (lowest), Lost Peak (middle), and The W...
Rock Climbing Photo: Peak Labels of the Organ Mountains
BETA PHOTO: Peak Labels of the Organ Mountains
Rock Climbing Photo: Coming down Topp Hut Road, Rabbit Ears Massive (on...
BETA PHOTO: Coming down Topp Hut Road, Rabbit Ears Massive (on...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rabbits Ears from the Aguirre Springs road.  Dibs ...
Rabbits Ears from the Aguirre Springs road. Dibs ...
Rock Climbing Photo: All three Rabbit Ears from just below the summit o...
All three Rabbit Ears from just below the summit o...
Rock Climbing Photo: Organ Mountains from the west. Photo George Ray.
Organ Mountains from the west. Photo George Ray.
Rock Climbing Photo: Northern Section of Organ Mountains labeled.
BETA PHOTO: Northern Section of Organ Mountains labeled.
Rock Climbing Photo: The west side of the Organs
The west side of the Organs
Rock Climbing Photo: Organs overview written by Paul & Linda Seibert (c...
BETA PHOTO: Organs overview written by Paul & Linda Seibert (c...
Rock Climbing Photo: Organs overview written by Paul & Linda Seibert (c...
Organs overview written by Paul & Linda Seibert (c...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Organs as seen from the West.
The Organs as seen from the West.
Rock Climbing Photo: Panorama of Organ Mountains from the West. Photo G...
Panorama of Organ Mountains from the West. Photo G...
Rock Climbing Photo: Peak Map
Peak Map
Rock Climbing Photo: Organ mountains in winger. Photo Adam Heckathorn.
Organ mountains in winger. Photo Adam Heckathorn.
Rock Climbing Photo: one of the many friendly local plants
one of the many friendly local plants
Rock Climbing Photo: Organs overview written by Paul & Linda Seibert (c...
BETA PHOTO: Organs overview written by Paul & Linda Seibert (c...
Rock Climbing Photo: sunset on the Organs
sunset on the Organs
Rock Climbing Photo: almost full moon over the Organ Mts
almost full moon over the Organ Mts
Rock Climbing Photo: another panorama from the west
another panorama from the west
Rock Climbing Photo: looking toward the visitor center from Modoc Mine ...
looking toward the visitor center from Modoc Mine ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Modoc Mine road
Modoc Mine road
Rock Climbing Photo: 16-Nov-2012.  Basecamp ~ 2/3 way up trail to Sugar...
16-Nov-2012. Basecamp ~ 2/3 way up trail to Sugar...

Show All 27 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Organ Mountains Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 22, 2015
By Karl Kiser
Apr 23, 2006
The Linda Rosul and Ted Dunning article of the Organ Mountains In Rock and Ice #48 (March/April 1992) contained redrawn topos (see page with Southern Comfort Wall) provided by the Southwest Mountaineers. There are errors in the article and the topos do need to be updated.

For the record, the persons who generated these topos in the 1970s and 1980s include (hopefully I didn't omit persons): Steve Wondzell, Edmund Ward, Paul Seibert, Paul Kemp, Mark Motes, Glen Banks, Matt Monagle, Jim Graham and Karl Kiser.
By Karl Kiser
Apr 26, 2006
"Rock Climbing New Mexico"--Dennis R. Jackson (2006) contains a section on the Organ Mountains pp. 390-407. I offer some additional comments here.

Many of the older ratings 5.6 to 5.9 could be one grade harder. This would not apply to all climbs but do not underestimate an easy rating in the Organs. These mountains are not crags.

The approach times seems to be off a bit (see book times below). The approach to the Citadel and Southern Comfort are much shorter than the other areas, probably less than an hour. The first trip to any of these areas will be longer than subsequent trips.
Citadel--1 hour
Southern Comfort--1 hour
Tooth--1 hour
Wedge--1.5 hours
Sugarloaf--1 to 1.5 hours


#1 Glad We Came--better at 5.8/5.9

#2 Wish You Were Here--better at 5.8/5.9. The climb was originally done in two short pitches although the climb can go straight up (runner well) and left to the anchor. Pitch1: climb up left facing dihedral, exit right and belay. Pitch 2: traverse left to bolted anchors. One can continue up and go to the summit of the Citadel although most parties rap. Rap to the east and walk back to gear. The notation about 5.11 face climbing is WRONG. This is information about the third pitch of Hercamur Snurd. This pitch is seldom done and contains old 1/4" bolts.

#3 Hercamur Snurd--both pitches better at 5.10-; new 3/8" bolts have been added (thank you Jim)

#7 Finger Zinger--better at 5.10a/b

#9 West Ridge--better at 5.7; one can rap either to the east (more common) or west off the summit (two ropes and hard to find--used more for routes on the west face of the Citadel).

Southern Comfort--p.399

#13 Black Velvet--I put in the two bolt variation on lead, they are 1/4" bolts and need replacement!

#14 Margaritville--better at 5.8/5.9

#15 Hangover--one can escape left on the second pitch if the crack proves too difficult.

#15.1 DT--Mark Motes doesn't mind if someone places a couple of good bolts on the pitch to make this a still exciting lead. The route is usually a TR, start with DWI and then go left after the roof moves up a shallow dihedral.


#16 Tooth Fairy--descent for all three routes noted in book is the same, three double rope raps down the center of the face.

Topo for T or C: the first pitch is wrong, this is the unprotected variation. Follow the written instructions--up the crack then traverse right to the belay.


One can approach the Wedge from the east as well. Go up high on the Pine Tree trail then up a ridge to a flat area below the short east face of the formation. This is where the short rap is found. Go right and descent to the start of the West Ridge, go left to descent to the start of the Shillelagh route.

#20 Diagonal Route--there are several starts to this route, 5.9 and 5.10. The route is better know as the Shillelagh Route.

#21 Robbins Route--this has historical interest but there is no established route up the face, the book misleads here Several strong parties have climbed in the area of the historic route (at 5.11) but to my knowledge no route has been definitely described.


One can rap from the east side with a single rope (useful) and frequently done. Then just walk west under the south face, around to the north side and follow the rock down to your packs. Some friends just climbed Sugarloaf and did not see an intermediate rap station from the southwest rap, it needs two ropes.

#22 North Face--better at 5.7 and grade III, this cannot be a grade IV when the long and hard Organ Needle East Face routes are noted in the as a IV.

#23 The Left Eyebrow--this route is also better as a grade III.

#24 Science Friction--the 5.11 moves are just a couple off the belay at the top of the second pitch, one can simply aid this as well (much less scary than the less than well protected 5.9 face climbing to the left). I do not know if the 1/4" bolts have been replaced. They are 30 years old and necessary. I would not do this route unless the bolts have been replaced!
By Charles Cundiff
Oct 4, 2006
Back in progress, a more definitive guide to the Organs (and the Mesilla Valley). Everything else is finished (ie. Dona Ana's, Rough and Readies, Percha Creek, and Pena Blanca. It's going to be hard to finish though, as I'm currently living in Ft. Collins Co. Anyone who wants to put together something comprehensive on Orp, the Lesser Spire or the Rabbit Ears... it would be helpful. I don't have good stuff on Bastion or the Card Deck either. Also, names of routes on La Cueva? All I know is Banana Split (10b?)

By Karl Kiser
Mar 26, 2007
Most of the multi-pitch climbs in the Organs were put up with 45 or 50 m ropes. One should take two ropes to rap unless one can confirm that there is a single rope rap route.
By climber pat
From: Las Cruces, NM
Dec 5, 2007
Be very concerned about the 1/4 bolts. I know of two which broke under body weigth in the early 1990s. One was on the Citedal and one was in the Dona Ana's.
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
Sep 17, 2008
We're now entering the nice season for climbing in the Organs. Late fall and early spring are ideal because it gets way hot in summer. Winter offers some fine climbing weather too but the days are shorter and if you get a system rolling through, it can get pretty damn cold.
By cuclimbing
From: Las Cruces
Dec 4, 2008
I've heard a people refer to a "mini half-dome" somewhere in the Organs on the West side. I feel like they're talking about something that's around the dripping springs area...Anyone else heard this or know what I'm talking about?
By Aaron Hobson
From: Clinton, TN
Dec 9, 2008
The Peak that strikes me most as being Yosemite-like is Sugarloaf. Not being a Yosemite climber, I'm probably not the best to judge, but it doesn't seem to me that Sugarloaf is much like Half-Dome.
By Lowell
From: El Paso, Texas USA
May 22, 2009
See Organ Needle/Normal Route (classic hike).
By cuclimbing
From: Las Cruces
Apr 3, 2010
By George Perkins
From: The Dungeon, NM
Feb 23, 2015
I've heard of people seeking out beta for a traverse of the Organ Mtns. These links may help, as will contacting local climbers. Looks exhausting.
By Nathan Fry
From: Intervale, NH
Aug 21, 2015
Anyone interested in the info on the traverse can contact me or Jon Tylka, both via MP. Stranded up here in Vermont with lots of ice, but I still miss my Organs ...
By MikeBriseno Briseno
From: Anchorage, Alaska
Dec 22, 2015
Does any one have any information about a rope that was found off of Modoc Mine Road in the boulders just past the red gate?

The rope is a blue 60m dynamic rope. It was stashed there enroute to our route of the day when we realized we had three ropes.

If anyone has any information, please contact me.

Mike Briseno

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