Southern New Mexico May 2003 Itinerary
Dear mom and dad,
I provide here an itinerary for my upcoming
driving trip to New Mexico (hereafter "NM") and
West Texas ("TX").
Ultimately I intend to complete NM.
Tuesday       May 20
Wednesday May 21
The driving route to NM is very plain - just head
east on I-8 as it passes, in turn, through Yuma, Gila Bend,
Tucson, crosses the AZ-NM border, Lordsburg, Deming, and
finally Las Cruces. [AZ : Arizona]
I am traveling with R - peakbagger extraordinaire
from Los Angeles. I don't have his truck license number.
However with his permission (?) I can call you sometime
and let you know. R just completed California -
becoming the fifteenth to do so (I was the fourteenth last July).
Thursday May 22
Organ Needle (8,980+ ft) - the Dona Ana County Highpoint (cohp)
This is a semi-technical climb that is highly sensitive
to rain and/or snow.
A map of the summit area is nothing but a jumble of squiggly
lines that are too closely spaced to be of any use. Hence a map
is not provided.
The climb involves an approach on foot from the base of the
Organ Mountains, in turn located immediately east of Las Cruces.
The elevation gain of previous trip reports is 4,100 feet -
although that can be reduced to 3,600 feet with judicious use
of 4 wheel drive and some nerve at the wheel.
This is an all-day climb and we will have to be on our toes
to get up and down before sundown.
The semi-technical portion is only for the top
few hundred vertical feet, i.e. the vast majority of the climb
is simply hiking uphill on slopes of ever-increasing steepness.
The crux is a 20 foot nearly vertical section. However it
has very solid handholds and a diagonal crack for foot placement.
Some would rate this class 4 - others would call it class 3.
In any event it is certainly FAR easier than summit day on
Granite Peak in Montana!
We will probably NOT bring a rope since,
on an earlier climb of Organ Needle with 11 people
(March 17, 2000 with Scott Surgent in attendence),
nobody needed a rope going up - and only 3 of them needed a
rope belay going down (climbing downhill is always more
psychologically daunting a challenge than climbing uphill -
principally because you cannot see where to put your feet).
I always bring extra food and a parka with gloves
in case, for some reason, we do NOT get back to my truck by dark.
It would be an uncomfortable but survivable night.
Were it to rain or snow we would have had no business on the
mountain in the first place.
Again, the closest community is Las Cruces. The Organ
Mountains do NOT lie in a National Forest. Instead, they are
immediately west of White Sands Missile Range. Please note
this in case you do not hear from me by mid-day Friday.
YOU CANNOT EXPECT A PHONE CALL from me Thursday night -
chances are very good that we would just camp at our truck
without driving out from the area. Consider yourself
fortunate if you DO hear from me at that time.
Friday May 23
Drive into Texas - all the way south to Big Bend
National Park (NP).
Saturday May 24
Climb Emory Peak (7,825 feet) - the Brewster cohp
and highpoint of Big Bend NP.
There is a well-trodden trail and this hike poses no
dangers whatsoever. Elevation gain is about 2,400 feet.
Getting this county will increase my glob span to over
1,600 miles - extending north and west to the Canadian border
at Washington state.
Drive back half-way to NM, stopping at TNC (see below).
Sunday May 25
Climb Mount Livermore (8,700 feet) - the Jeff Davis cohp.
This mountain is on TNC land. The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
is a conservation group that purchases tracts of land for
preservation of its natural state. TNC opens the area for
guests a few time a year - allowing for legal access to
an otherwise forbidden area.
The "open date" for climbing Mt Livermore is May 25 -
the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
The hike is up a jeep trail and is trivial with about
a one thousand foot elevation gain on foot.
Drive back into NM and head west through Las Cruces
towards the Arizona border, stopping short of it.
Will meet G, also of Los Angeles, at the KOA
Campground of Lordsburg, NM. R and G
are both in their mid or late thirties.
Monday May 26
Tuesday May 27
Climb Big Hatchett Peak in Hidalgo County (8,391 feet).
This is a two-day ascent and we'll bring plenty of water for
the effort. The weather should be warm but we'll bring a pair
of tents anyways since we will overnight on the mountain.
It is cross-country but the terrain is not difficult.
Organ Needle (see above) is far more challenging.
Wednesday May 28 to end of May
Return through Arizona. G would like me to climb some
of the Arizona cohp(s) with her - a favor I will give her
given that I've completed that state and hence have climbed
everything she could possibly want to do with me. In return
I get a "free" ride home.
The following counties might be of interest to G -
Cochise (Chircahua Peak)
Graham (Mount Graham)
Pima (Mount Lemmon)
Pinal (liner on Rice Peak)
Santa Cruz (Mount Wrightson)
Other counties are either too hot by now owing to their
low elevations, or are in northern Arizona and hence off-route.
G indicates that she'd like to do some of her Arizona hiking
prior to meeting Richard and myself - so leaving perhaps one or
two days of hiking with me, with R possibly in attendance
Adding two days of cohp'ing in Arizona to two days for driving
home at a relaxed pace, four days are required to return from NM.
Thus departing NM on the 28th, a Wednesday, suggests a return to
San Diego on May 31 - a Saturday.