I had just dropped off my dad at the airport in Albuquerque when I decided my girlfriend and I should go on a hike around in the Rio Puerco Valley. The sky was clear and it was a very mild winter so far with temperatures in the 50's and 60's during the day. It was a great opportunity to get out of the city for a while.
I called my girlfriend and arrived at her house at 10 am. We left the house on the north side of Albuquerque at 10:40 am. We didn't make it to the base of Cerro Cochino until 12:00 pm and didn't start the climb until 12:15 pm. We decided, based on the view from the northeast where the buttes are first visible from the road to Albuquerque, that an attempt should be made by the southwest or northeast part of Cerro Cochino because of the steep drop-offs to the northwest and southeast.
We climbed up onto the steep hill Cerro Cochino is on with ease. Once we pased the fence that straddles the west side of the peak, things got a little harder as the scree that comprised most of the terrain shifted and slipped beneath our feet. After traversing to the southwest corner the climb became extremely fun. The rocks were solidly held together in outstanding arrangements common on the volcanic buttes. At ton of cacti stood perched atop the rocks and forced us off the top of the ridge. We walked along just below the ridge until we found a gully to take us back up, which was relatively easy. On top of the ridge again, the rest of the ascent was fun and not difficult.
On the way down, we decided to take a shortcut down the gully to the scree slope several dozen feet below. It was tough because of the loose rock and cacti. My girlfriend didn't see one cactus and she sat in it with minimal amounts of damage to her body but a lot of pain. Immediately after she did that I placed my hand into another cactus I didn't see. It was pretty tricky descending down the gully and just as difficult going down the scree because the composition of rocks in the slope varied in size every seven feet or so. I'd recommend going down the ridge all the way to its end and then turning in whatever direction you came from, rather than going down the scree. The rest of the way down was like the end of a normal hike with no problems or complications.