Otero County High Point Trip Report
Sierra Blanca (11,973 ft)
Author: John Garner
Hike: 8 miles, 2000' gain
Directions to Trailhead: In Ruidoso, take NM 37 north about five miles; turn left at
turnoff to ski area, NM 532. Follow road 12 miles to top. Trailhead is several
hundred yards below ski area parking lot.
Route: Hike up Crest Trail # 25. Grade is moderate, through conifer forest.
Occasional views of ski runs lessens the wilderness experience, as does the sound
at times of equipment running. Route is a bit confusing at top. At the crest of the
range, enter White Mountain Wildnerness. Turn left (south) toward top of ski area).
Follow ski runs up to upper lift terminal.
At top of lifts, Lookout Mtn appears as a hump above. Climb up to it.
Once that is bagged, drop down a bit, cross the saddle between Lookout and Sierra Blanca,
then pick your route up to the top, about 800' higher. Trail guidebook says
"well-worn route". Don't buy it! First half of route is fairly loose,
with some grass to help. Second half is a scramble, Class 2+. Will need to use
hands a good bit across the knife-edge to the top. Not too scary, as the
exposure is not great directly on the ridge, but 3000' drop-offs just to either side.
Not for agoraphobic hikers. For better balance, I wound up leaving my day pack
at the beginning of the knife-edge. Just the same, a real mountaineer would sneer
at this trip (and at me).
HP Description: HP is obvious at rocky summit. No register at the time I was there.
View: Absolutely awesome. 360 degree hundred mile view. The view here is one of
if not the best I have ever seen. You can see the entire Tularosa Valley 8000 feet below,
with a long strand of White Sands visible for miles. Can see Black Range over top of
San Andres range. Many others visible.
Comments: The knife-edge is not the place to be in a storm. NO shelter.
Trees are beautiful in fall; many elk, especially in wilderness area north of HP's.
Bugling can be constant. Also, you can walk back down some of the ski runs or
access roads to shorten the trip.