Back to the Organs

The  Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, NM

In February Blake and I spent one day climbing in the Organs.  We were so impressed with the little-known mountain range that we decided to go back for more.  So last Thursday we flew to El Paso (Blake from Fort Worth and me from San Jose) and drove to Las Cruces.  Due to flight delays, we got to the hotel at about 2am.  So much for resting up for a big weekend of climbing!

Our plan was to climb on The Tooth, a clean 500 foot wall containing some of the Organs’ best routes.  Like most walls in the area, The Tooth is guarded by a lengthy and steep approach.  Just getting to the trail involves driving on an extremely rough mining road.  We had a 4×4 Ford F150 pickup and still only made it about a quarter of the way up the road.  Once we parked, it took almost two hours of hard hiking to reach the base.  Between the long hike, warm weather, and lack of sleep we were already pretty worked.

Our objective for the day was Tooth or Consequences, considered by many to be the classic route in the Organs.  It’s definitely a good one.  The climbing felt really sustained with exciting and committing moves on every pitch.  The second pitch, described on Mountain Project as the “best known and perhaps most feared” involves 100 feet of thin, insecure slab with just 4 bolts for protection.  The climbing was well within my limit but the runouts took a mental toll.

After climbing and rapping the route, we had a quick lunch.  We considered climbing a couple more pitches, but decided to cache the packs and gear (for the next day) and hike down.  Good thing we did because about halfway down the hike I started feeling really dehydrated.  All said, our car-to-car time was about 8 hours.

I spent much of Friday night cramping and alternating between shivering and sweating.  Not sure if it was just dehydration / sunburn or a bug of some sort.  Given my condition, the idea of of another big day in the Organs didn’t sound too appealing (or prudent) so we decided to head to Hueco Tanks.  But first we had the little matter of retrieving our packs, which were still cached a few thousand feet up the trail.  Blake volunteed to go get them and did the round trip in 2 hours – impressive.  After than, we drove to Hueco and did a couple of routes before the park closed at 6pm:

Starting the Second Pitch of Uriah’s Heap at Hueco Tanks
After a night at the Hueco Rock Ranch, we knocked out 5 pitches before catching a flight back home:
  • Uriah’s Heap (2p)
  • Rainbow Bridge (1p) — For a few years I’ve had my eye on a route called The Snake, which combines the first pitch of Rainbow Bridge with the last two pitches of Deliverance.  This time we did the first pitch of that linkup and I agree with Mountain Project that it may be “the most fun 10+/11- on the Front Side.”  I’ll be back to do the rest of The Snake.
  • Sea of Holes (2p) — A fun route but with just 7 bolts over 2 pitches it’s a little runout for my taste.
Overall, we didn’t get to do as much climbing as we have like to, but it was a great trip anyway.

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