Sandias Rock Climb: The Cave Route on The Pulpit
Climbers: Steve Doorn and Gina Pasquale
We headed out early (but not quite our usual Alpine start) from Los Alamos for the La Luz trailhead at the base of the Sandias. Started up the trail at about 8AM and reached the base of the Pulpit by 10. The 4 pitch route is located on the left side of the formation and starts directly underneath the obvious large cave (although it isn't visible from the start of the route).
The first pitch (5.5/5.6?) starts in a fun, left facing dihedral with several tricky chimney moves. It's probably best to lead this pitch without a pack if possible (several tight squeezes). The pitch ends up on a big blocky ledge after about 100 feet. We hung out here for a little while, shivering and waiting for the sun to finally creep around to us and thaw us out.
The second pitch (5.6?, 80-90 feet) starts with a short (10-15 feet) traverse left, followed by leading straight up past a small roof to easier ground that takes you to a big ledge with two aging bolts (located in the smaller cave to the right of the big one). Gina led this pitch by going to the left of the small roof. It may also be possible to go to the right of it.
The third, crux pitch (5.7, about 80-90 feet), starts up about 10 feet right of the bolts. After the reachy crux move using a bomber hold off the ledge, it follows a fun crack up for about 30 feet that ends at the top of a small bulge. Just to the left is another dubious looking bolt to conveniently clip before going into a tricky, very wide stem (you might call this pitch a tall person's lead) to reach a small slopey stance above and to the left of the bolt. The pitch continues up over somewhat loose large blocks to a belay ledge at the very base of the right facing dihedral that starts the final pitch.
The final pitch (5.6) is a full ropelength so you definitely want to start it right at the base of the dihedral. The climbing on the dihedral is fun laybacking, jamming, and face climbing on excellent rock on the face to the right. After climbing the dihedral continue over easier (and somewhat loose rock) to the top. The climb was a blast and finishes with an awesome view of Muralle Grande and the Thumb.
The descent is a 120 foot rap off a big chain that starts (as you face Muralle Grande) about 30 feet to the left of the top out point. Rap to the notch and scramble back down along the north side of the Pulpit. We did the approach from the bottom of the La Luz, but it may be shorter to start from the crest (although you then have to hike back UP at the end of the day).