Middle Peak's east slope
Middle Peak, also known as Middle Sister, has an elevation of 5,786 feet and is the middle summit of the Tres Hermanas (Spanish for "Three Sisters") Mountains in southern New Mexico. The Tres Hermanas are oriented in a northwest to southeast direction with North Peak (North Sister, elev. 5,802 ft.) and South Peak (South Sister, elev. 5,630 ft.) bracketing the Middle Peak in the center. These three peaks and their distinctive pyramid shapes can be seen all along New Mexico Highway 11 from Deming, NM, to the Mexican border south of Columbus, NM, and beyond.
Middle Peak from the south.
View from the summit.
Approaching Middle Peak from the north and Deming, NM, you exit I-10 and drive south along NM 11 for approximately 25 miles. You will have the Tres Hermanas Mountains in sight the entire duration of your trip south and will have no problem identifying them. As you approach you will be looking for an intersection sign indicating a road to the left (this is Luna County Road B-0005) and for a gate along the right hand side of the road with a wooden frame gateway above it. The gate should be open since the right side is Bureau of Land Management land and only certain areas are posted private property. Opposite of the gate will be Luna County Road B-0005 and the blue sign indicating it.
If approaching Middle Peak from the south and Columbus, NM, you will drive north along NM 11 for approximately 6 miles. You will be looking for the same intersection described above except the gateway is on your left and Luna County Road B-0005 will be on your right.
You will turn right (or left) through the gateway and proceed west along the dirt road. The road will split to the left and right, you will continue right (the left should be posted private property and one of two houses you will pass). You continue up the dirt road past a wooden cattle or horse pen to the right. Always attempt to stay on the right hand side path along this section since the left side is in rather poor condition. You will pass the second house which will be to your left along the dirt road. At about 1.8 miles you will take a right at an intersection and ensure that you immediately veer to the left hand road going north. You will continue until you come to the first left hand turn, take this dirt trail. You will drive a few hundred meters towards the saddle in between South and Middle Peaks. Park at the end of this trail.
A 4WD or AWD vehicle is recommended for getting to the base of Middle Peak due to areas of loose sand and dirt and also for a few areas where high clearance for obstacles will be required.
Route to the Summit
Middle Peak East Ridge route
The route to the summit of Middle Peak follows the east ridge that extends from the summit block all the way down to the end of the dirt trail. Like other non-descript and remote summits in the area there is no existing trail from where you leave your vehicle up to the summit. Therefore you are bushwhacking and route-finding your whole way to the top. The east ridge was the route I chose due to the appearance of a general sloping hike to the top. This was generally the case which areas of scrambling and mild rock-climbing was necessary. The descent was a more gradual slope than the ascent and therefore probably would be a good option for an ascent for someone who does not find scrambling comfortable for their skill set.
Additional ascent/descent routes via the drainage and saddle of South and Middle Peaks was seen as a good possibility. Also from the second dirt access road there was a route up a canyon/chute leading to the north ridge that seemed possible as well but with a fair degree of scrambling and climbing involved towards the upper half of the route.
I would not consider the exposure of this route to be overly dangerous, however, do exercise caution when scrambling and bouldering up on the route.
View of East Ridge.
Lower East Ridge.
Descent from the summit.
There are no developed campsites or facilities in the immediate vicinity of the mountains. Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, NM, about 6-miles southeast has camping available. Primitive camping is permitted; no fees or permits.
BLM rules apply. No fees or permits required. 24-hour access.
Food and Lodging
The two nearest towns are Deming, NM, 25-miles to the north of the access road and Columbus, NM, 6-miles to the south. Deming, NM, has chain hotels and food and is a much larger town than Columbus which has a few local restaurants and hotels.