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Ascent of Mesa Redonda on 2006-05-14

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Sunday, May 14, 2006
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mesa Redonda
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:6198 ft / 1889 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mesa Redonda is located near US-6 several miles south of exit 126 on I-40, which is about 30 miles W of Albuquerque. I required a lot of trial-and-error scouting in the vicinity of the mesa to find a suitable approach. I will spare the details of all of my trials and describe only the approach that I actually ended up using. All roads on my approach route are no problem for any street-legal vehicle.

On US-6 about 2 miles S of I-40, turn right on an unsigned road that goes over a broad arcing bridge over some railroad tracks. Zero your odometer as you make this turn. On the other side of the bridge at 0.4 miles, turn left under an arch that says, "Major Land & Cattle Co., Highland Meadows Estates". Immediately after the arch, the road splits; take the left branch. The smooth dirt road parallels the tracks for a while and ends at a gravel road at 2.2 miles. A sign says "Land for Sale, Indian Hills, Sales Office 836-6893". Make a shallow oblique left turn onto the gravel road. At 2.7 miles the road goes through a pair of mud gates and ends at a T-intersection where a street sign says you have been on Calle de Llano and the new street is Amarillo. Turn right on Amarillo. Sometimes the gravel is so fine and soft and deep that it's almost like driving on sand, and it's difficult to maintain steering control. At 3.4 miles, the road turns left and changes from gravel to dirt. At 4.1 miles, make a right turn at a 4-way intersection onto a road that heads directly toward a pass on the right side of the mesa. At 4.6 miles, turn left onto a road that runs parallel to the base of the mesa. At 4.8 miles, turn right onto a road that heads less than a tenth of a mile up to the foot of the mesa and ends at what passes for a turnaround loop on the left side. This is where I began my hike.

I hiked up a bouldery ridge for about 300' gain until it topped out on a grassy ledge. Then I turned 90° left and headed about 350' farther upslope until I gained the summit plateau between a small black rock outcrop on the left and a small gully on the right. A 400' walk S from here took me to the highest ground, where I built a cairn. The cairn is no higher than the grass around it and is difficult to see from a distance.

A use trail goes much of the way along the route I used, and this trail appears to be made by occasional "adventurous tourists", probably teenagers, as evidenced by occasional trash not characteristic of normal hikers (drink bottles, jugs, hair brushes, etc).

Notes:

Most visitors to Mesa Redonda will note that most of the turns on the approach navigate a road grid that appears on both DeLorme and Topozone. Although the road grid is rather dense, the settlement is quite sparse; there's only one house every two blocks or so. There are many signs indicating real estate for sale. My suspicion is that some real-estate-tycoon-wannabe is trying to make big bucks by developing the area but is not doing very well with it. I doubt that access will ever be a problem but it shouldn't be too hard to "pass" if you can pose as a prospective buyer.

I investigated the possibility of climbing the mesa from the pass that is reached if you don't make the left turn at 4.6 miles. That possibility was soon ruled out because of lack of a good place to park, some No Trespassing signs, and a very cliffy route that may or may not work out.

The mesa could also be climbed directly from US 6 by parking near mile post 6. That would avoid the complex approach I used but trespassing would be an issue: you'd have to hop a signed fence and cross the railroad tracks on foot. Once past this point, however, it would be straightforward.

In October 2007, John Vitz climbed Mesa Redonda and reported that a house is under construction at the point where I started my hike. Cliffs are not a problem climbing the west slopes.
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