Ascent of Jarilla Mountain on 2020-01-03

Climber: Alexander OConnor

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, January 3, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Jarilla Mountain
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:5310 ft / 1618 m

Ascent Trip Report

Jarilla Mountains HP.

Like the West Potrillo Mountains HP, there are two check ins for this one. Only one is able to be recorded via this forum.

Jarilla Mountains are a small range that sits within the Tularosa Basin just northwest of the Tularosa Valley and Orogrande, NM. It was mined for turquoise by the Native Americans and later by prospectors for gold, silver, copper and more. Currently it is still mined for turquoise at the very least. I had the distinct pleasure to meet the owner of some of the mines there!

Getting to them isn't overly complicated if you're competent with map reading basics. The dirt road you want to access is just North of Orogrande off the 54. From there you'll be required to navigate the labyrinth of dirt roads. It should be understood that the area has sections of private land and active mines. It is encouraged you establish contact and permission from the owner(s) if you intend to enter any lands not public.

Once you manage to determine how you want to go about ascending this range, find a suitable spot to park just off the dirt road you're using and begin in the general direction. There are no trails in this range so again, some form of navigational aptitude will be your best asset. Decide which slope will be best suited to meet your ascent's needs. Be advised that as you navigate around the range there are deep and exposed holes that are likely former mine shafts. Serious injury can be sustained should you fall into one. Getting out will serve as another serious obstacle. Be smart and careful!

Upon the first attempt we used a slope on one of the northern high points to reach the ridgeline. It was also extremely windy and snowy that day which severely limited visibility to white out conditions. From there we traversed west to what we initially thought was the range's high point (HP). With no visibility to identify any other peaks and a map that had inaccurately marked the exact location of the HP we retreated prematurely. Naturally conditions radically calmed and cleared as we were finishing our descent. Corroborating my observations with identifying markers on 2 other apps I realized we may have possibly missed the HP by a mere hundred feet... one peak away.

I made the decision to return to the Jarilla Mountains the very next day to rectify this error. It was clear and conditions were perfect! On this occasion, I used the slope of the peak we thought was the HP the day before. It was very steep and rocks were loose. Small sections required some scrambling and additional effort. Once up top the range's HP was very apparent. I made my way down one last saddle and a final push up the last slope.

The summit had a somewhat disorganized cairn/rock pile with a registry. I helped rebuild it along with a plastic tube to mark the summit. I also located two survey markers. The view was excellent. You can see for miles in all directions and have gorgeous views of the surrounding mountain ranges. I lingered for the sun to begin to set before making my way down.

For my descent I utilized the northern slope which involved some scrambling. Once on the saddle just north of the HP I continued until I reached a ridgeline that branched eastward. I used that for the remainder of my descent. It was very gradual and easier than I expected. I would recommend simply using that for any journey up or down for the most unimpeded experience.

I extended the courtesy to communicate with the owner of the mines in the area of my whereabouts and when I finished.

Overall I enjoyed both occasions, but conditions provided by the second day left me ecstatic and exhilarated! This range is a hidden gem and would love to climb it again!
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble

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