Seamingly Hard 5.10b

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 35.20450°N / 106.48740°E
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Mixed, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.10b (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 2
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Seamingly Hard 5.10bSeamingly Hard is hard 5.10b slab
Seamingly Hard is a slab route located in the Lower La Cueva Canyon, Sandias - just outside Albuquerque (the largest city in New Mexico). The route is bolted, although the bolts are widely spaced, and especially towards the end it does appear exposed. Believe me, you will be happy to clip to these bolts, not much gear placement along this route.
Mountain Project describes it as "the often admired but less often climbed slab". I climbed this route with an experienced climber, and was wondering what was taking him so long, but then I got to experience it myself... It does not appear very difficult from the bottom, but when you are on the slab, you are on your feet, no hand holds, and especially in the spring season there could be a running water. This route is in the shade all day long, so do not attempt it in the winter (I would expect snow/ice)unless you bring crampons:). We encountered a snow patch right at the start, which was easy to avoid. The part between the 1st and 2nd bolt were a little bit wet.
The whole route is sustained, do not expect any easier stuff along the route, and fall here would be painful...I think that you can climb it with a 70 meter long rope as a 1 pitch climb, but most people climb with 60 meter doubles.

Getting There

La Cueva TrailLa Cueva Trail
inside Lower La Cueva canyonStart heading south
A difficult trail to followScramble along the rock edge

Drive on Tramway Blvd and turn north on Forest Road 333 (this road goes to La Luz trailhead and Juan Tabo picnic area). Turn right after the first cattle guard - Forest Road 333B, to the La Cueva Picnic Area. The start of this trail is pretty obvious. You can park your car near the restroom area, or about 25 meters below on a small parking lot. This is a fee area, and you should pay 3$ fee at the pay station. Hike east for 0.25 miles on La Cueva trail # 83 to a point where the trail forks. Take the right fork into the canyon, which is a smaller trail than the trail going to the Sandia tram.

Keep going up the canyon along the stream, and at some sections you have to scramble up above the stream. There is a trail, which could be hard to follow. There are rocky slabs you have to climb up, and if you search around, you should always find the trail again. These are Sandias after all, and some scrambling and route finding is expected.

The photo on the right shows where you need to start heading south, up the canyon wall. Again, look for a trail (there are some cut trees). You will scramble up along the rock edge - photo # 3, and there you will rediscover a trail again.

You will come to a large overhanging boulder with some fixed air gear (this is where the locals practice Yosemite aid climbing). Continue east on the trail for about 100 feet to a large, left-facing corner and water streaked slab. There are several climbs are next to each other: Gemstone 5.8 and our Seamingly Hard 5.10b, and about another 75 feet up more climbs: Sapphire 5.9, Emerald City 5.9+, and Revenge of the Elderly 5.7.

Route Description

Seamingly Hard 5.10b
2nd anchors
The route start is pretty obvious, you can see fixed bolts. Most people climb it as a 2 pitch climb, but as I mentioned above if you have a 70 meter rope you will be ok to do it as a 1 very long climb (about 65 meters long).
1st pitch: climb to the 1st bolt is easy, then continue straight up to the bolt # 2 and 3. There were some moist sections along this route. Clipping to the first bolt was easy, the real fun started above it. The climb does not get any easier, so if you are uncomfortable between 1st and 2nd bolt reconsider your plans. The climb was dry above the bolt # 3. It was a relief to clip in. There are no trad gear placement opportunities at this section. Above the 4th bolt you should try to look for fixed anchors, which you share with a neighboring climb Gemstone.
2nd pitch: There were 3 more fixed bolts. Follow a little left trending seam, again remember your feet. Do not expect handholds, and the rock had a lot of tiny features which surprisingly were enough even for my clumsy feet. Above the bolt #7 there was a small crack where you should place some gear. We did use 2 nuts, # 3 and # 7.
The top anchors are not clearly visible.Look towards east and you should see the boulder pictured in the attached photo. The anchors are there, just oriented so conveniently that you cannot see those. A little bit an awkward position of these anchors, but they got us down.

Descent: 2 60 meter ropes tied together will get you all the way down to the bottom of the climb.
1 70 meter rope will get you about 1/2 was down to colorful and visible slings (which appeared to be in a good condition), 2 rappels.

We climbed the route a little bit differently. We were hoping to do it as a 1 pitch climb, but our 60 meter doubles were not quiet long enough. So, we had to build an anchor about 10 meters away from the 2nd = rappel anchor.

Essential Gear

Two 60 meter ropes or one 70 meter rope
7 slings (or you can use quickdraws) and a small rack with small and medium sized nuts, and some cams.
Positive attitude - not a macho climb, a lot of tiny footwork.

External Links

Seamingly Hard on Mountain Project