Ascent of Sierra Blanca Peak on 2015-05-31

Climber: Rob Anthony

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, May 31, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Sierra Blanca Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:11973 ft / 3649 m

Ascent Trip Report

Sierra Blanca has been on my wish list for a few years now as it is the most prominent peak in New Mexico. When I moved to Colorado, I thought I may never get around to it, but luckily instructing at the yearly IRIS intern orientation in Socorro, NM gives me a good reason to go back to New Mexico.

I stayed the night int Ruidoso and got a fairly late start in the morning after getting supplies. I headed out to Apache Ski area and on my way up the winding NM 532, my car blew a coolant line. I got water from other motorists, but knew the car would have to cool to bleed the system properly. I needed to gain some extra elevation anyway, so I just started hiking towards the ski area from mile marker 5.

6 miles and 1500 ft of road hiking later, I could see the ski basin downhill, so hitched a ride the remaining mile or so to save time. I then got a burger at the ski shop and headed up trail 15 towards the top of the ski slope. About a half mile up the trail, TR 15 turns into TR 25. I followed TR 25 a couple miles uphill as it contoured around some of the slopes towards the ski hill, the trail fading in and out of existence at places.

At a drainage (which was flowing), I got off TR 25 and followed a ski route up to the upper ski area. From here, I contoured around Lookout Mountain and headed down a mountain bike trail towards Sierra Blanca, looming in the distance.

As I hit the saddle to Sierra Blanca, I met another hiker from New York whom also was planning on summiting it. We each went our own pace and hiked up the class 2- slope to the upper saddle of Sierra Blanca. From here, you have to traverse a bit of saw tooth topography, but a trail is worn on the west side of the slope and it is easy to avoid exposure. The final push is a solid class 2 scramble to summit, which is fairly distinct and has several large boulders.

I sat on a the highest boulder and enjoyed great views of the Capitain Mountains, the Mockingbird and Oscura Mountains, as well as the rest of the Sacramento Mountain Range to the North (including Nogal Peak).

I had the New York climber snap a photo of me when he arrived and then descended back to the sadle between Lookout Mountain and Sierra Blanca.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4138 ft / 1261 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1473 ft / 448 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.5 mi / 18.5 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Nights Spent:0 nights away from roads
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4138 ft / 1261 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3438 ft / 1048 m; Extra: 700 ft / 213m
    Loss on way in:700 ft / 213 m
    Distance:10.7 mi / 17.2 km
    Route:NM 532, TR 15/25, North Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Highway 532, mile marker 5  8535 ft / 2601 m
    Time:4 Hours 14 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:773 ft / 235 m
    Distance:0.8 mi / 1.3 km
    Route:North Ridge
    End Trailhead:Sadle with Lookout Mountain  11200 ft / 3413 m
    Time:30 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Sierra Blanca (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Sierra Blanca Peak2015-05-314138 ft / 1261 m
2Lookout Mountain2015-05-31680 ft / 207 m
Total Trip Gain: 4818 ft / 1468 m    Total Trip Loss: 3553 ft / 1083 m

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