Ascent of Placer Mountain on 2020-11-11

Climber: Rob Anthony

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Placer Mountain
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:8897 ft / 2711 m

Ascent Trip Report

This one had been on my list for a while, but I was a bit deterred by the ambiguous access issues. I read the Santa Fe article where the Botanical Gardens (whom manage the Ortiz Mountain Educational Preserve) explicitly stated that they would not limit access - just that folks would have to road hike up to the preserve to mitigate liability. That seemed like a good enough legal defense to me.

I parked off GoldMine Road, and slipped through the fence as explained by other climbers. I then followed the road for roughly 2.5 miles to a Porta Potty which was presumably in place for visitors to the Preserve. I wandered around some of the displays and boards discussing the mining history of the Ortiz mountains which explained that the land is owned by the people of Santa Fe County. Therefore it is public land. The displays are quite nice, and it's obvious that a fair amount of time and effort went into creating the preserve - it is a crying shame that it has been out of use for over 5 years now and some of the facilities are starting to fall into disarray.

There's a nicely constructed shelter just up the road from the first turn off with a map of the two trails in the Ortiz Mountain Education preserve. I had some difficulty following this map. I guessed where the Placer trail must be and guessed wrong. I ended up scrambling to the crest up the East ridge which was a fairly miserable bushwhack up an overgrown screen slope. When I hit the summit ridge, I found cairns, which I followed to the summit.

Summit is marked by a large cairn and a Benchmark. There is a summit register tucked into the Yucca right by the Benchmark. As another hiker mentioned - the true high point seems to be maybe another 30 yards to the West of the Benchmark - I hit that. Great views and solitude on this summit. The views are nearly 360 degrees and include the Sandia Mountains, the Santa Fe Mountains, Cabazon Peak, the South Mountains, and of course the Ortiz Mountains.

I ate lunch, signed the register (first person since 2017), and followed the cairns back along the summit ridge. I continued following them to the South of where I had ascended and found that the trail actually goes up 2 ridges to the south of the one I had climbed. The trail is of moderate difficulty to follow, but is still there and can be followed. This was a FAR superior and easier route than how I ascended.

I followed the road back to the shelter. Paused to read some more of the literature, and then returned to the car.

Great Hike. If you do this - it is absolutely critical to respect the property of the mine next door and not enter as well as follow leave-no-trace ethics to a T as the preserve is unmaintained.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2947 ft / 897 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2947 ft / 897 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9.4 mi / 15.1 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2677 ft / 815 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2327 ft / 709 m; Extra: 350 ft / 106m
    Loss on way in:350 ft / 106 m
    Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    Route:Ortiz Mountain Rd/ East Ridge
    Start Trailhead:End of Goldmine Rd  6570 ft / 2002 m
    Time:2 Hours 19 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2597 ft / 791 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2327 ft / 709 m; Extra: 270 ft / 82m
    Gain on way out:270 ft / 82 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Route:Placer Mountain Trail, Ortiz Mtn. Rd
    End Trailhead:End of Goldmine Rd  6570 ft / 2002 m
    Time:1 Hours 46 Minutes

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