Knife Edge – Sandias Mountains, NM

On my drive home from CA -> VT the first stop I made was in Sante Fe, NM to visit my climbing partner Dan. For the full day I was there I first spent a little bit of time hanging out in downtown Sante Fe while Dan worked in the morning, then we went climbing/scrambling for the afternoon. The route we chose was the Knife Edge in the Sandias mountains, which follows the ridgeline to the north (left in the featured pic) of the large Shield rock wall.

A ~1hr hike on well maintained hiking trails followed by 20 min or so of travel on light use trails brought us to the base of the climb. The climb is really much more of a scramble than a true technical climb, with only one section that has a few 5th class moves. I carried a short ~20m line and a couple pieces of gear in my pack, but we ended up “4th classing” the whole thing without feeling any need for a rope or gear. Most of the scrambling was on far less than vertical rock, maybe only ~40-50 degrees or so, with many trees and dirt ledges breaking things up. Solid rock, big handholds, and obvious footholds made the scrambling easy, fast, & safe, though most of the time we were in “no fall” zones. The crux came about 2/3 of the way up the ridge in the form of a notch that we first had to downclimb a bit into and then up the other side on steeper rock. We took our time here and with a bit of patience found a nice secure path through, and on up easier scrambling to the top. The top of the ridge ended in a wide plateau of forest where we sat for a few minutes and ate a snack, before heading back to downclimb the entire ridge. There were a few other options for the descent, but all would have taken much longer and involved significantly further travel. The downclimb/scramble went easily with just a bit of extra focus required again negotiating the crutch notch section.

Total time up and down was ~5-6 hr, with probably half of that on the climb/scramble and the rest on the approach / return hike. Fun afternoon and a great goodbye (for now) to the West.

One thought on “Knife Edge – Sandias Mountains, NM

  1. Nice pics. The one of Dan down climbing gave me a slight case of the willies. Safe travels home.

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