Otero County High Point Trip Report

Sierra Blanca (11,973 ft)

Date: 1995
Author: John Garner

Conditions: Clear
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.