Sandia Crest 2x P2K
Mesa Prieta P1K

Thu, Oct 12, 2023

With: Eric Smith

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profile
Sandia Crest previously climbed Mon, Aug 3, 2020


Sandia Crest

Today was supposed to be a rock climbing session on the Sandia Crest, adjacent to Albuquerque. We had camped the night at 7,800ft in the mountains east of Santa Fe, finding it was 50F in the morning, much warmer than expected. This gave us some hope that it might not be too bad at 10,000ft on the Sandia Crest. We drove almost two hours to reach Sandia Crest at 8:30a, finding it 34F with winds 30-35mph. It was almost too cold to hike, but certainly too cold for rock climbing. We made a short circuit to tag the Sandia Crest HP and the nearby Wilderness HP, then went looking for another plan.

Mesa Prieta

A major problem in finding an alternative is that Eric has climbed almost everything within a 2hr radius of Albuquerque, those remaining having access issues. Mesa Prieta is a P1K that falls into this bucket. It's located on private property, surrounded by state trust, the Zia Pueblo (native american), and BLM lands. It's about 14mi of dirt road driving, but luckily, the roads are in pretty good shape, 2WD for all but the last mile, which is high-clearance. It would take us another two hours of driving to reach it, which meant it was almost 11:30a before we started out. Turns out this would be plenty, as the 6mi outing would take us only 3.5hrs. Our ascent route was fairly direct, but had a great deal of low cacti mixed with the grasses, making it tiring to watch nearly every step we took. The first mile was along the desert flats to reach the base of the mesa. The climb up the mesa wall added some volcanic rock and tree-dodging to the mix of cacti. Once on the mesa, the cacti relented some, making for easier walking on most of the last mile. The final small hill upon which the highpoint sits saw more of the annoying cacti. We found the benchmark and the remains of wooden survey towers (oddly, more than one), no register. We left one of ours at the benchmark. On the return, we retraced our ascent route to the edge of the mesa, then decided to try another way down. It was longer, traversing south along the rim of the mesa until we could access a yellow-colored gully of loose rock (but not really dangerous), and then a yellow-colored ridge on the lower half of the mountain. Most of this had very little cacti, much to our benefit. Even when we were on the flats below for the last mile, we found cow paths and old roads that also had very little cacti. We would certainly recommend our descent route over the ascent route for a more enjoyable outing. We finished up just before 3p and headed back to Albuquerque to see how the weather would affect the next day's outing...


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This page last updated: Mon Oct 30 09:56:20 2023
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