Ascent of Sierra Blanca Peak on 2017-02-10

Climber: Duncan Lennon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, February 10, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Sierra Blanca Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:11973 ft / 3649 m

Ascent Trip Report

I'm intrigued and mystified by the fact that only one other person on peakbagger has logged an ascent of Sierra Blanca between late December and early April- an intense mountaineer called Jaime Viñals. Of course plenty of other folks have likely gone up there in winter, but I wondered if PB users had avoided the peak during this period for a reason.

Nope! From where I'm sitting, SB can be climbed year-round. Doubtless unfavorable conditions pop up now and again, but in general you'd be good to go with snowshoes, ice axe and some form of traction. Or skis, obviously, though skiing off the summit itself would be a trick.

As I cruised across the southern part of the country in the weeks leading up to the climb, I kept an eye on snow conditions at Ski Apache. Things seemed pretty bony. As I finally approached the peak from Roswell, I could see big bare patches up high. Good news!

The east ridge certainly seemed like the shortest approach. Unfortunately the trip between Elk Lodge and the ridge is an unpleasant one through a rough and unhealthy forest. That sidehill consumed much of my ascent time, and is the only reason I'd hesitate to recommend this route. Above 10,000' the walking is easy (with snowshoes) and more enjoyable than the north ridge proved to be. I saw a few elk as I traipsed the ridge high above the New Mexico forests, some of which were being intentionally burned. The, uh, forests, not the elk.

The summit was breezy and glorious, and Lookout Mtn beckoned, so I descended towards it along the steep class 2+ ridge, here partially scoured. On the far side of Lookout, I inquired at the gondola about the best route down. I had a certain answer in mind, and sure enough the liftie wordlessly gestured at the open gondola door. Thanks man!

All in all a fun adventure on one of the west's gentlest giants. As I write, in the White Sands picnic area, this giant crouches exactly 8,000 feet above me.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Duncan Lennon
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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