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Ascent of West Blue Mountain on 2017-09-06

Climber: Fred Brown

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:West Blue Mountain
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:10336 ft / 3150 m

Ascent Trip Report

Came in from the north, US-60 to NM-52. Stayed on NM-52 for 37.4 miles, turning east onto FR-478 which is signed, "Co Rd-E15". Drove 13.1 miles on FR-478, then a right turn onto FR-478B, which is signed Coffee Pot Canyon - Trail 96.

Highly advise loading a GPX file as trail 96 is difficult to follow in places. As noted by other trail reports there are blazes cut into trees marking the way but many are difficult to spot at a distance. The trail stays in Coffee Pot Canyon for about 1.9 miles then makes a right turn, marked by a large rock cairn, to a set of switchbacks that climb to the ridge above. While blazes are the primary markers there are cairns on occasion and downed timber placed in such a manner to help guide the way. The user route to the summit is a mess of downed timber and thick brush. Best to stay on the trail until you're east of the summit before pushing on to the highpoint. On the way up I bypassed West Blue Mtn for Blue Mtn which is only a quarter mile more, then proceeded up West Blue on the return hoping to stumble on a decent summit trail. Well, it doesn't exist. I found the old user trail but its a mess until your close to the barbed wire fence near the summit. I found the overall hike to West Blue to be slow going due to the lack of a distinct trail in many places despite the blazes and cairns.

On my return to Albuquerque I headed to Mount Withington using forest roads. Rough roads (FR-96 & 138), best have 4WD if you're considering this route. FR-96 starts about 4.5 miles from the trailhead. You pass the turnoff on your way in on FR-478 but its not marked. Its 17.6 miles to the junction with FR-138. FR-96 is rough in places, F-138 not so much. I found out from the Mount Withington firewatcher FR-96 is unmarked due to its poor condition, considered a "washed out road". Saw one other vehicle on it. I never did have to use 4WD but there's no way I would go down this road without it.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3306 ft / 1008 m
    Extra Gain:125 ft / 38 m
    Distance:14 mi / 22.5 km
    Route:Trail 69
    Trailhead:Coffee Pot Canyon Trailhead  7280 ft / 2218 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm
Started clear, cool, little wind but by 1PM T-storms rolled in and it rained.
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:4 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:3 Hours 



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