Ascent of Truchas Peak in 1970-07

Climber: Phil Robinson

Others in Party:Boy Scout Troop 166
Date:July, 1970
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Truchas Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:13102 ft / 3993 m

Ascent Trip Report

The first time that I hiked Truchas Peak was in 1970. I was in Boy Scout troop 166, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was 15 years old. There were about 12 boys and a couple of adult leaders. The adults dropped us off at Santa Barbara campground, then we hiked up the east fork of the Santa Barbara River to the end of the box canyon and the headwaters. The first night we spent about half way up the valley, in a large open area, near the location where the middle fork trail meets. The second night we stayed in forest, at the edge of beautiful meadows and little lakes at the headwaters of the East Santa Barbara River. The morning of the third day we had a tough hike up to Santa Barbara peak and Skyline Ridge. Hiking Skyline Ridge was one of the most beautiful hikes that I could imagine, all above the timberline with beautiful views in every direction. The third night we set up camp at Truchas Lake and we hiked up to Truchas Peak later that day. We had to scramble on all fours to get to the top. We continued along Skyline Ridge, crossing the ridge peak Trailriders Wall, to Pecos Baldy Lake where we spent the 4th night. From there we hiked to Horse Thief Meadow and spent two nights there. Our 7th night was at Stewart Lake where we met up with some more boys from our troop. We were there one or two nights. I believe our trip was 9 days, 8 nights. The next morning we hiked out. We did not have regular tents but were masters of making tents out of plastic. We would lash a log between two trees with binders twine and drape the plastic over the top, and then we would wrap little pinecones in the corners of the plastic and tie it off. The plastic was very ultralight. We would make a trench at the bottom where the rain came off. I remember our hike from Truchas Lake, crossing the ridge peak Trailriders Wall, to Pecos Baldy Lake; it was a hike with solid rain all day. We wore our ponchos over us and our backpacks. It rained while we cooked and most of the night. I laid in the tent with rain hitting the plastic 6 inches from my face. This was probably my rainiest hiking experience ever. Our total hike was 50 miles and we received a patch for the hike.

The hike to Santa Barbara Peak, then over to Truchas Peak, is one of my favorite hikes in NM. I have made this trip 5 times. The first time I hiked this loop was in Boy Scouts in 1970 and the last time in 1992 with my 2 sons Garret and Brandon. We park in the Santa Barbara camping area and hike up the East Fork of the Santa Barbara. We hike half way up the fork, and set up camp for the first night, then stay at the very end of the box canyon, at timberline, the second night. (In college, I did this section in one day and my friend was snaking over logs at the end of the East Fork.) Day 3 we hike up Santa Barbara Peak in full backpack. When I did this with my 10 and 12 year old sons, I had an 85 pound backpack. Quite a chug! To me, this is one of the most beautiful days of hiking you can ever find, a day along Skyline Ridge! The vistas are incredible! All you see is nature. The third night we set up base camp near Truchas Lake, then the next day scramble up, at times on all fours, to Truchas Peak. The 5th day we hike out by way of the West Fork of the Santa Barbara. The total hike is 32 miles with a backpack, plus the day hike to Truchas Peak.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3582 ft / 1090 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3105 ft / 945 m
    Round-Trip Distance:50 mi / 80.5 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1502 ft / 457 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 477 ft / 145 m; Extra: 1025 ft / 312m
    Loss on way in:1025 ft / 312 m
    Distance:22 mi / 35.4 km
    Route:Santa Barbara Campground up the East Fork River
    Start Trailhead:Santa Barbara Peak  12625 ft / 3848 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2080 ft / 633 m
    Gain on way out:2080 ft / 633 m
    Distance:28 mi / 45.1 km
    Route:Out near Cowles
Ascent Part of Trip: Santa Barbara Campground Base #1 (8 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Santa Barbara Peak1970-07 a3840 ft / 1170 m
2Peak 123821970-07 b 
3Truchas Peak1970-07 c3582 ft / 1092 m
4Trailriders Wall1970-07 d 
Total Trip Gain: 7422 ft / 2262 m    Total Trip Loss: 3105 ft / 946 m

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