Whiskey Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 35.19843°N / 106.45658°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.6 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 5
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


The ComplexThe Complex
One of the longest ridges in the Sandias, this mess of jumbled rock stretches from the second tram tower northward to just west of the Thumb. The rock quality in this area of the Sandias is relatively low and infrequently climbed, which adds to the danger. The approach is fairly long, rugged, and confusing, but pales in comparison to the challenges posed by the ridge. Much of the rock is loose and patched with cactus. Also, changes in rock climbing grade vary drastically within short distances along the ridge.

Getting There

To do the route in "correct" fashion, a start at the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area is warranted. After taking Tramway north from I-40 beyond Academy Road and turn onto the road to the picnic area. Park in the northeast corner where a large map awaits your inspection.
Domingo Baca Canyon and Whiskey Ridge

Route Description

Whiskey Ridge Route ImageAerial View of Whiskey Ridge
Elena Gallegos to the Tram Tower:

From the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area, travel north along the network of trails to reach the Domingo Baca Trail (230). Follow the trail far into the canyon staying as close to the stream as possible. At some point, you'll hit a waterfall/granite cliff blocking the path. Work your way up and right onto the broad ridge and skirt its northwestern edge until you can return back to the stream. About 10 minutes beyond the Great Granite Gates (prominent rock cliffs/buttresses rising from the creek floor), veer left (west-northwest). If in doubt, use the tram cables for guidance.

This section is where it gets hairy. Prepare yourself for yucca with sharp, three-foot long leaves, cactus patches 20-30 feet in diameter, unforgiving brush oak, hordes of boulders, and very few paths through it all. Some game trails do exist and may provide routes of least resistance but beware, deer can jump bushes you can't, leaving you with a dead end to contend with. Despite horrible route-finding difficulties and aimless off-route jaunts, the trip to the tower took roughly 3 hours, which I believe to be a good estimate.

Ridge Proper:

4th Class
Short Pitch 1: 5.5 (nice, huge, wobbly boulder makes for fun stemming)
Long Pitch 2: 5.1
4th Class
Short Pitch 3: 5.6
4th Class
Long Pitch 3: 5.6 and 5.4 downclimb
Rappel 1 (airy)
4th Class
Rappel 2
Short Pitch 4: 5.6 and 5.5 downclimb (loose rock)
3rd/4th Class

Keep in mind that all anchors are self-made. The first rappel station has two pieces of webbing and one cord wrapped around a massive, sturdy boulder. The second rappel stations has three pieces of webbing around a foot-wide tree.


Option 1a Via La Luz (Recommended):
3rd Class descent along ridge to the southern base of the Thumb
Bushwhack north around northwest ridge of the Thumb to upper portion of La Luz.

Option 1b Via Domingo Baca:
3rd Class descent along ridge to the southern base of the Thumb
Bushwhack south into Domingo Baca and regain trail back to Elena Gallegos

Option 2: Double-back down route to Domingo Baca and Elena Gallegos

Getting In Over My Head

The following trip report has a more detailed description of the route:
Hangover on Whiskey Ridge

Essential Gear

Hiking gear, plenty of water, normal rack, and webbing for rappels. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather including hail and snow even into April and May.

External Links

Elena Gallegos Picnic Area Info



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