Climbing The Sentinel, Sandia mountains

Climbing The Sentinel, Sandia mountains

Page Type Page Type: Album
Additional Information Image Type(s): Rock Climbing


The Sandia Mountains are a mountain range immediately to the northeast of the city of Albuquerque in New Mexico, and practically in my backyard. (I lived at its foothills for 15 years).
Sandia means watermelon in Spanish, and is popularly believed to be a reference to the reddish color of the mountains at the sunset. However, the most likely explanation is that Sandia Indians grew squash and the Spaniards thought that those were watermelons.
Most of the rock is limestone, nice for climbing. There is a multitude of trad climbs. There is also a sport climbing area - Palomas Peak (I have posted a couple of photos from there on SP previosly).
Because of the approaches to the climbing areas, you will typically find solitude while climbing. And despite the fact that you are climbing in New Mexico, you can get cold. Most of the climbs are above 9,000 feet.

The Sentinel

The Sentinel is a picturesque granite summit on the ridge between upper LaCueva and Chimney canyons. Climbs on the Sentinel tend to be in 5.7-5.8 range (all trad). Lost Edge seems to be the classic here, starting with a beautiful and smooth dihedral. There are no bolts along the route. Standard rack with camalots from 0.4 to 2.0 is plenty (0.5, 0.75, and 1 doubles). I also used my new DMM alloy offsets just to test it out. It is a 2 pitch climb, some people make it a 3 pitch climb.

Our climb was a combination of 2 climbs: the classic Lost Edge 5.6-5.7 and Almost Overlooked 5.8-.

information from the Sandia Climbing Guide Book

Another view of the 1st pitch1st pitch of Lost Ledge
2nd pitch on the Sentinel2nd pitch Traverse

The Sentinel is the prominent pinnacle that stands on the upper south rim of Chimney Canyon. Hiking time down to the Sentinel is about 1/2 hr. Reach the Sentinel by hiking directly down from the north end of the chain link fence that runs in front of the crest observation point to a limestone band, at which point the Sentinel appears as a small rock pile to the northwest. Down climb the limestone band and make your way down the ridge that lies between Chimney Canyon and upper La Cueva Canyon. Hike north of the notch at the east side of the Sentinel in order to gain the west side.
Lost Ledge 5.6, 2 pitches - is probably the most popular route. First pitch is the more difficult. Quality of rock is good. Begin the climb just to the right of the West Saddle and climb up the obvious smooth-faced dihedral that leads up the west end of the southwest face. Near the top of the dihedral traverse left out of the dihedral onto easier rock, and make your way up to a belay stance. A final short, easy gully leads to the top. A variation is to follow the dihedral directly on up instead of traversing. This goes about 5.7 or 5.8. With a 165 foot rope this climb cab be accomplished in one pitch. Protection is excellent.

Descent from the summit of the Sentinel is accomplished by way of a short scramble down the east side.

External Links

Sentinel on Mountain Project


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Bubba Suess

Bubba Suess - Sep 16, 2009 11:49 pm - Voted 10/10


You ought to attach this to the Sandia Mountains page.

Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Sep 17, 2009 9:29 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Attach

Thanks, I will.

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Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.