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Water Stains 

YDS: 5.7+ French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, 400', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.7+ French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: anyone know for sure?
Season: mid-spring to mid-fall
Page Views: 1,072
Submitted By: Bill Lawry on Apr 6, 2008

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BETA PHOTO: I believe this is actually the original way the fi...


Water Stains zig-zags its way up the middle of the west face of The Pulpit. Mike Hill's description in "Hikers & Climbers Guide to the Sandia Mountains" (1993) is okay. See "Location" for gaining the ledge at the base of the 1st pitch.

However, see this Photo which shows what is the original way to do the first couple pitches per Mike Hill's guide. It is different and much better for a party of two than that described below; the way below is what I learned from someone else in 2004 when we climbed it as a party of six (!).

Pitch 1: Climb easy terrain up and left into an open book or large alcove. Work your way straight up until the climbing eases. Trend a little right and then up heading out from under the roof system. Set gear belay at ~30 meters of rope on a small ledge adequate for two people. The last 10 or 20 feet to the belay is 5.7 and a little run-out with hard fall potential.

Pitch 2: Climb slightly up while mostly traversing left to a fixed pin. Pin is visible from the belay. Traverse down/left under the pin through the crux, and then up to a spacious ledge and bolted belay.

Pitch 3: Traverse directly to the right on a ledge for roughly 30 feet to a relatively new bolted anchor at your feet; these bolts are not visible back at the spacious ledge. Continue the pitch up a subtle ramp that trends rightward past a piton via balancy but not difficult face climbing. Some small pro. At an ample ledge very near the top, temporarily jog right to keep the climbing within the rating; see Photo. Belay on a ledge with a mostly-alive belay tree, ~6" diameter. Behind the tree there's a little pro-able feature high in the dirty corner.

Skipping the above "jog right" and instead heading straight for the tree on the belay ledge felt 5.9ish with no nearby pro - did it on top rope.

Pitch 4: Climb up the gully a couple of moves before escaping right on an up-angling incipient crack for 10 or so feet. Then continue up staying a bit right of the gully. There are sections of dirt and loose rock. Be careful to not send rocks down the chute that aims them at your belayer.


The below location description works with the above pitch-by-pitch description. However, see this Photo for a much better P1 and P2 for a party of two.

See Mike Hill's description. After a bit of 4th class scrambling and a tight squeeze between rock on the left and a live pine tree on the right (~8 inch dia), rack up on the ample horizontal ledge. The live pine on this ledge stands noticeably alone a bit up from the very base of The Pulpit .


Standard rack plus a few pieces for roughly 3/8 inch cracks.

Photos of Water Stains Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Water Stains Route. However, see this Photo which ...
BETA PHOTO: Water Stains Route. However, see this Photo which ...

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By Anthony Stout
From: Albuquerque, NM
Jun 20, 2011

"Standard rack plus a few pieces for roughly 3/8 inch cracks."

OK, you know you are dealing with an engineering type / science geek when we are telling people to bring extra rack pieces for a crack that you are measuring in 1/8 inch increments!

Sorry Bill, I just could not let that go. Made me chuckle. Guess I am easily entertained.
By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Jun 21, 2011

Guilty as charged. :-)
By Robin
From: Albuquerque, NM
Apr 12, 2013

I saw nothing odd about his gear description. But then again I'm an engineer too... :)

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