Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ice Canyon- Organ Mountains





      Please read  the other Ice Canyon entry for a description of hiking in Ice Canyon. This is an introduction/explanation of how I came to be hiking there in the first place.
      I have been wanting to climb Organ Baldy or Baldy Peak in the Organs for awhile. This one of a couple of hikes that remain on my Organ Mountains to do list from long ago. Many have been completed,but many others I've just lost interest in. My interest in this one was revived recently when  I picked up a" Celebration of Our Mountains" pamphlet at the SW Environmental Center and saw that one of the planned hikes was to Baldy Peak. That was  about a month ago and unfortunately I already had plans to be spending my fall break in Cloudcroft and didn't want to  cut my trip short on Saturday to come back and make this hike on a Sunday morning. It said in the pamphlet that the plan was to ascend via Ice Canyon and descend via Little Ice Canyon( Dripping Springs Canyon). It also said that the hike would test people "emotionally and physically," which didn't  sound that appealing. I should have learned my lesson right there.
 I did a bit of research on climbing Baldy Peak and came up with the description on summitpost.com  and that's all. A person known as twilly used the route from Bar Canyon. I had thought about this way many years ago and figured out a way of going around the waterfall back in Bar Canyon. Back then I had tried first the chute on the right just before reaching the waterfall,but got the willies when I saw it required crawling under some huge boulders. I backtracked a short ways and found a convenient gulch to ascend on the north side. It took me up on a ridge where it would be easy enough to climb back down to the stream bed. I didn't have time for the peak, but took some nice photos and called it a day. That route would've been fine for me, had it not been for seeing twilly's recent description and photos: burnt trees and clouds of ash courtesy of the Abrams fire, and a long climb up a scree slope( which is no fun at all).
  I did little more research. First I dug into my library of outdoors books and dusted off my 1972 edition of the Herbert Ungnade's The Mountains of New Mexico, which contains R.L. Ingraham's ridiculously laconic descriptions of climbs in the Organ Mountains. Baldy Peak is mentioned and the route described is as follows: " . . .continue into the box canyon along a stream bed for several hundred yards until an exit is seen on steep slope to the left. Climb out of the box canyon and follow the high canyon east and southeast (right) for a walk to the summit." I should known better. These men were real mountain climbers and probably scoffed at the treacherous terrain I encountered trying to follow this route.
 Lastly, I looked at the many photos the Octotillo Hikers have posted of their excursions to both Ice Canyon and Little  Ice Canyon. I was looking, but all I was seeing was ordinary people some quite a bit older than myself even,  climbing around in these ludicrously steep and slippery canyons and seemingly having a good time.Perhaps camaraderie will do that- more on that subject later. And I thought if they can do it, why can't I? More faulty thinking. I'll explain as I  tell you of my trip. I should have looked a little closer. These folks are not always looking for the easiest, safest or fastest route to anywhere, they obviously take a certain pride in the difficulty of some of their traverses.  I'm not immune to the feeling myself.But I rarely do difficult routes a second time.  I'm happy to climb a peak once for the most part.Both Ice Canyon and Little Ice Canyon are in their photo galleries multiple times. Clues everywhere but I was ignoring the signs.

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