Ascent of Magdalena Peak on 2020-01-19

Climber: Alexander OConnor

Date:Sunday, January 19, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Magdalena Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:6625 ft / 2019 m

Ascent Trip Report

Magdalena Peak and the land immediately surrounding is owned by New Mexico State University (Director of Real Estate). I did speak to them after about 5 different transfers and numbers from people trying to help and direct me. The "No Trespassing" gate is there to prevent vehicular traffic as the road is extremely steep in places. The department did express that they do discourage climbing the mountain for liability reasons, but it is not actively enforced. Having said that, use common sense and don't ruin it for others that come after you. Be respectful of the area. It's also worth noting that summit is leased to the Federal Government primarily for the FAA and NASA. I needn't remind anyone that trespassing in the gated antenna farm and observatory is an federal offense.

We used the road for vast majority of our endeavor, but also explored part of the circumference of the base where the hard ball turned into dirt road. We considered using a draw to ascend the mountain, but not all of us had appropriate footwear (I forgot my boots) so the paved route seemed to be the most appropriate option to ascend. Smarter not harder. The road switchbacks and is steep as obviously annotated.

Once towards the top it levels out. We made our way across the mesa, and I went off route to explore Mesa Azur. I particularly enjoyed the view from the corner of the Mesa facing Southeast. After a short while of exploring around, I made my way back to the road so we could make the way towards the summit.

The rest of the journey was uneventfully easy. A large percentage of the summit to cordoned off by chain linked fence and razor wire on top. The barrier encompasses the area around the FAA towers and dome. Numerous signs are present to remind that one person that might consider anything irrational. While it probably did nothing, I put my phone on airplane mode while near the sectioned off area.

The absolute highest part of the mountain is just outside the gate on the west side, so you can still officially declare this mountain summited once you stand on the highest section. I also observed 2 survey markers. There might be 4 but I couldn't find them. I'll also make an interesting note that this mountain might have been named Flat Top towards the early part of the 1900s as the survey markers indicate.

I surveyed the flat top of the summit on all sides. You're treated with a phenomenal view of the entire Sierra de las Uvas wilderness, everything West, you can see Cookes Range, Florida Mountains, Portillo Mountains, and more! Up close you can clearly observe Sugarloaf Peak and Sierra de las Uvas North (climbed the day before). We took some photos and relaxed before making our way back down.

The way down was uneventful. On the north most section of the route coming down I broke off and went to the edge to take additional photos of Sierra de las Uvas North, Sugarloaf Peak, and the valley below it. The remainder of our return journey remained uneventfully calm.

Overall an enjoyable experience. It was my second day in a row exploring the Sierra de las Uvas range and area. It is a very underappreciated area and remote. If you intend to ascend this particular peak, please make the due diligence to communicate your intentions to NMSU. As always, respect the land, and stay wild!
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack

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