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Southwestern Mountaineers

Southwestern Mountaineers. The Southwestern Mountaineers is a club of climbers, hikers, cavers, and general nature lovers whose membership is drawn mainly from Las Cruces, New Mexico, and its environs. Our main climbing activity is in the Organ Mountains, which are only 10 miles east of Las Cruces. These are a chain of some 20 granite and monsonite towers, some of them spectacularly sharp, arranged along a ridge about 10 miles long and rising to a high point of 9000 feet, some 5000 feet above the surrounding desert. The rock is good with generally shallow cracks. The profuse rock climbing routes range from easy, unroped ones to super-severe face climbs.

The club runs training sessions for novice climbers, and experienced leaders lead rock climbs in the Organs two or three times a month. We have led numerous rescue operations in this area in past years. During the summer of 1961 the club sponsored a training session for the E1 Paso County sheriff’s rescue team, providing instruction in knot tying, belaying, and general mountaineering practice.

A notable climb was made in the Organs in the spring by P. Wohlt and R. Ingraham, who made the first ascent of the west face of Gerch’s Folly, an 800-foot rock wall with breathtaking exposure and a number of pitches requiring classical climbing techniques. Other prominent peaks in the Organs first climbed by our members include the east faces of the Needle and of Little Square Top Massif, and the north face of San Augustine Peak. In 1960 P. Rogowski and T. McCalla climbed the usual route on Shiprock without the use of any direct aid.

Robert L. Ingraham, President