Southern New Mexico

New Mexico has a lot to explore!  We began with a tour of the giant caves of Carlsbad Cavern National Park, then moved on the the scenic White Sands National Monument, and finished with the rugged Organ Mountain range.

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Cave draperies in Carlsbad Caverns.

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The Hall of Giants, at over 60ft tall Giant Dome and the surrounding stalagmites are quite large.

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A beautiful collection of soda straw stalactites and popcorn.

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The ripples of a drip are captured in the cave pool.

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White Sands National Monument

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Steve enjoys frolicking in the gypsum sand.

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We found a desert oasis.

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Hiding from the sun in the desert.

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The rugged Organ Mountains.

The most demanding part of climbing in the Organ Range is the approach and descent.  From where the approach begins to the base of the rock stands ~4+ miles of hiking with ~3500 ft of elevation gain through tricky cactus filled terrain.  Knowing that finding the start of the route would be the biggest challenge for us we decided to do a scouting day to figure out the terrain and stash our gear near the base so we could move quickly on the summit day.

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Boris takes on the old mining road to start the approach. The road gets much rougher after this point.

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Steve on our day 1 scouting/gear stash mission.

On our day 1 scouting mission we almost called it quits.  It was brutally hot in the mid day sun and finding the right trails/gully to ascend was trickier than we had imagined.  After all but giving up we finally found the right way and stashed our gear.  It was not all the way at the base of the route like we had planned but it was a good ways up and we were confident we had identified the correct way from there.

We rested our legs for a day then got up before the sun to go for it.  We made it to our stashed gear quickly then continued onto a seemingly endless amount of steep prickly gully scrambling.  After only one more wrong gully backtrack we made it to the base of The West Ridge of The Wedge (5.7).  Then it was time for a fun exposed ridge climb to the summit!

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Near the summit on The Wedge. The white ground in the upper right is the White Sands National Monument.

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Summit views from The Wedge looking south.

After the summit we thought we were golden, we had read beta to go down a different way off the backside for an easier descent than the terrain we had scrambled up.  This proved true for the first gully, but then things got spicier.  It did not appear that many climbers had been up this way recently as the brush was extremely thick, requiring some serious bushwhacking .  We kept questioning if we were even in the correct gully.  In the end I think we were in the correct, the Organs just has some very rugged terrain.  I have a lot of respect for the climbers who call this their home crag!

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Sunset over Las Cruces and the Organ Mountain Range.

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