Otero County Highpoint Trip Report

Sierra Blanca Peak - the Ultra prominence (11,973 ft)

Date: May 22, 2005
Author: Bob Bolton

We found an unimproved campsite along a side road on the drive to the Ski Apache complex and made a comfortable camp.

In the morning after a great sleep, I identified what I turned out to be a new bird species for me, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. Then we went up to the ski area and started hiking up trail #15 at the last corner before entering the ski property, as some reports suggest doing. This, however, was taking us away from the target peaks and, when we got to the trees and discovered rather deep and infirm snow, we abandoned the trail and headed straight up the ridge, around the first bowl to the lodge at the top of the lifts, then up onto Lookout Mountain for our first objective.

From there it was a simple hike and scramble to the summit of Sierra Blanca. On our return hike we decided to descend under the ski lifts and traversed down from the Lookout/Sierra Blanca saddle until we intersected the first lift heading for the lodge. A distant thunderstorm developed but didn't threaten us. This route was much preferable to the trail and we wished we had followed it on our ascent.

After returning to our rig we headed back to Ruidoso for Mexican food, then launched out for southeastern Arizona and the Chiricahua Mountains.