Member Trip Report

MEETINGS & ACTIVITIES    trip menu    search   calendar


Palomas Peak, Sport Climbing, Sandias

September 26, 2003

Author:  Larry Earley

Trip Participants:  Larry Earley and Norbert Ensslin

Palomas Peak located at 8000 ft in the Sandia Mountains is a nice limestone sport climbing crag. Some information can be found in Rock Climbing New Mexico and Texas (Falcon Guide). Detailed information is found in a great online guide (see link from LAM home page). Around 80 bolted climbs ranging from 5.6 to 5.13 are at Palomas. It is not good for beginners since the average climbs are hard 11s. There are a couple of 8s, a few 9s and a few easy 10s. The climbs range from 40-70 feet and face west. Access is from Placitas up towards the Crest on NM165, partly paved and partly dirt. Parking is limited. Access is also from the Sandia Peak ski area downhill on the dirt road a few miles. The hike in is about 30 minutes on a nice trail with 500 feet elevation gain.

Norbert and I walked all the way to the back of the area first and started on People Mover (5.6-7). A short climb with three bolts. It seemed a little tricky and both of us took our time leading. Not a good first lead. Rock was pretty good but the climb was not great. We stepped a few feet left and tried Pony Ride (10a). A hard layback start leads to mostly 5.9 moves to the fourth bolt. The crux is the top. A strange anchor with a very difficult move to the anchor gets your attention. The last move was 11a. The anchor has a low bolt and one high bolt. You clip the first anchor bolt and then try the short well protected move to the second bolt. We didn't make it. Simply grab the quickdraw and get the second bolt. You have to see it to believe it. Really. Climb is excellent and clean rock.

We walked a ways back the way we came until we found the climbs Pussy Whipped (8+) and Tiger by the Tail (9+). They share the first four bolts. These were interesting and 70 feet tall. Some different kinds of moves including face, stem, steep jugs and others. These were not just a walkup. Try them. We both hung at bolt five and thought about some moves ahead.

We next went to some great climbs Lonesome Dove (9+) and Patchwork (10b). Both are 70 feet high. Both have hard starts and some fun too. Lonesome Dove has a great crux halfway up. You have to make four hard moves in a row and then run it out a ways to the next bolt. Its only 9+ but its committing. Go for it. Patchwork is much harder. The surprise is the finish. Great face climbing. The geology changes three times along the way. We look over at Chess (10b) and Checkers (10b). These look harder and a little overhung. Next time. Awesome sport climbs.

We walk back and see a few other climbers. Its a Friday so its pretty empty. A really perfect day with clear blue sky and nice moderate temperatures. We spend the whole day and don't rush. Some guys are trad climing the mediocre cracks. Oh well. We see two others on Green Eggs and Ham (10c). A bolted dihedral. It is delicate and balancy we are told. It is quality. Next time. We settle for Floating on Moonbeams (9+). A short average climb with the crux start. We finish on a classic sandbag Stick to Stucco (10c/d). I try it first. I stick clip the first bolt. The start is thin and steep and sharp. Then pull over a bulge at the bolt. I wouldn't lead this one if you are not a 10+ solid leader with balls. Unless you clip it. The climb continues sustained 10 to the forth bolt. I find a bail draw. This can't be good. Did I mention its damn hard to move past bolt three. I hang and reposition myself to continue. It is now crux time above the bail point. The next bolt is too far. I go up several moves but can't see a clipping hold or stance. I bail. Norbert tries the climb. He struggles past bolt one, hangs and repositions on bolt three and has a plan for the crux. Norbert places three cams in the short crack and moves up ten feet and hangs. Six more feet to go. A few slips and a cut on the wrist. Next a foot in the sling aider and he makes it to the fifth bolt. Norbert says he can't make the anchor. He tries three times and fails. He lowers left off route to a big crack and runs it out to the anchors. It is definitely 10+. The guide book says 10c. The latest online guide is now c/d. From the ground it is a low angle slab. The rock is so rough a fall will scare you to death.

We walk out and plan to return some day. Maybe we will bring back a rope gun to try some other hard tens. There are lots of 11s and 12s. We give them a look but we won't even try. There are not many 11a, but a lot of 11c. We will be happy with the tens. The Mountaineers need to check out this place. It is quality and very different from White Rock in every way. Plan on a full day with the drive and walk. It is worth the trip.

Send your trip reports, comments, updates, and suggestions about this site to
Jan Studebaker

Website Design by Jemez Web Factory