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Sandia Mountains In The Winter - Picture Report
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James Watts
(james481) - F

Locale: Sandia Mountains
Sandia Mountains In The Winter - Picture Report on 03/18/2007 02:10:33 MDT Print View

Hi all, just looked at a few of the pictures from an overnighter I did with a buddy of mine in the Sandia mountains east of Albuquerque, NM. Some of the pictures came out pretty well, so I thought I'd share some of the beauty of my backyard playground. Hope you enjoy it.

(Click images for larger size)


A nice and sunny Saturday morning, but at 45F with 35 MPH gusts, a little chilly.



Our first stop of the day at "The Overhang" at 6800 ft.



An interesting and unique New Mexico landscape.



We hit snow (up to three feet in places) at about 7000ft.



We've arrived at our destination, "The Icemaker". At an elevation of 7800ft, a small stream cascades down a 120ft face, leaving spectacular ice formations in the winter. Here you see me standing on a pile of small ice cubes that have fallen off the waterfall (hence the name). I wonder what I'm thinking about?



Here is a wider view of the falls through the trees.



My companion for the trip in front of our cozy domicile.



A wider view of camp. Evening temps of 23F with 10MPH gusting winds.



A lot of new ice on the falls in the morning. Listening to chunks of ice whistling down all night was interesting.



Packing up camp in the morning. Temperature of a balmy 13F when we got up, but at least the wind died down in the night.



Another small waterfall further down the canyon. Phew, this is some tough hiking!

s k
(skots) - F
Re: Sandia Mountains In The Winter - Picture Report on 03/22/2007 22:20:56 MDT Print View

Looks like a very nice playground to scratch around in, James. I enjoyed the post.

Joe Otero
(Ducati-Joe) - F
Re: Re: Sandia Mountains In The Winter - Picture Report on 03/27/2007 21:15:26 MDT Print View

Great trip report James! What trails did you do? Last week I went up South Crest and down CCC. Sunday I did Embudito up to Oso.

I'm looking to do the entire Crest in Apr. I hope the snow is cleared out by then.

Cheers,
Ducati Joe

James Watts
(james481) - F

Locale: Sandia Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Sandia Mountains In The Winter - Picture Report on 04/03/2007 11:41:21 MDT Print View

>> Great trip report James! What trails did you do? Last week I went up South Crest and down CCC. Sunday I did Embudito up to Oso.

>>I'm looking to do the entire Crest in Apr. I hope the snow is cleared out by then.


The pictured trip was the foothills trail to lower La Cueva Canyon. "The Icemaker" is formed where Chimney Canyon flows down into La Cueva Canyon. You can reach it either by going up La Cuava from the bottom (like we did on this trip), or dropping down from the La Luz slightly above where it crosses Chimney. Either way, be prepared for some serious bush whacking. There are no trails to speak of down there, and the brush comes in pretty thick, especially in summer and fall. Last year, a buddy and I went above "The Icemaker" to connect to the La Luz. 600 yards as the crow flies took us about an hour and a half!

We're planning on doing Embudito to Oso as a night hike this weekend, probably leaving a little after dark. How are the conditions up near Oso? Is there any snow or ice still up there?

Glad to hear from a fellow Sandia adventurer!

Christopher Chupka
(FatTexan) - M

Locale: NTX
Summer? on 04/03/2007 12:55:12 MDT Print View

James,
I am thinking taking my daughter up there for her first backpacking trip (age 9). I was toying with taking the tram up and hiking around and then walking down. How are the temps up there in July, water availability?

Second choice was up around Taos, Wheeler Peak area.

Thanks,
Chris

Edited by FatTexan on 04/03/2007 12:56:04 MDT.

James Watts
(james481) - F

Locale: Sandia Mountains
Re: Summer? on 04/04/2007 12:33:22 MDT Print View

>> I am thinking taking my daughter up there for her first backpacking trip (age 9). I was toying with taking the tram up and hiking around and then walking down. How are the temps up there in July, water availability?

Hmm, well, IMHO July is sort of a tricky month for backpacking anywhere in New Mexico, including the Sandias. Depending on your altitude on the mountain, I would expect daytime temps to get up to anywhere from 85 - 105 degrees. However, especially higher up in the mountains, afternoon monsoon storms (especially late July and early August) can be vicious, dropping temps dramatically (even to the point of snowfall or freezing rain), and the lightning can be very dangerous, so usual precautions must be taken. Pack rain gear no matter what! These storms can boil in over the peak where you can't even see them until they're on top of you. My SAR team routinely pulls hypothermic subjects off of the mountain even in the middle of summer.

Particularly on the front (Albuquerque) side of the mountain, most of the watersheds are perennial, so you might have trouble finding a good supply of water, although this year we've had quite a bit of rain and snow, so some of the streams may last until July. Of course, water can be had from the tram terminal and crest house on top of the mountain.

Taos area or the Pecos Wilderness above Santa Fe may be better choices due to water availability year round, but the same rules about monsoon storms still apply, especially at these altitudes.

Speaking of altitude, the areas under consideration range from 10K - 13K above sea level, so take that into account as well. If you aren't acclimitized to at least 5000 feet, make sure you plan more time than normal for the hiking, and try to maintain a quick escape route downwards in case you or your daughter begins to suffer from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). AMS is no joke, even at these fairly low altitudes, and if proper action is not taken (moving lower, post haste), it can be pretty debilitating.

All that being said, you are the best judge of you and your daughter's abilities, and if you feel that you're up for the challenge, you'll have a wonderful time in the unique climates that New Mexico has to offer.

Joe Otero
(Ducati-Joe) - F
Embudito to Oso, Sandia Mountains In The Winter - Picture Report on 04/10/2007 20:47:43 MDT Print View

Mike,

Sorry for the delay in responding. My computer went TANGO UNIFORM.

As far as Embudito goes...
I did a day hike on 25 Mar, and easily made it to the Oso. The last few miles were packed snow though. How do you think the light dusting of snow this week affected the Sandias? I am looking at the back side for Sunday afternoon.