American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Southwestern Mountaineers

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1956

Southwestern Mountaineers. Since the initial meeting of our climbing club was in October 1955, our lack of collective experience caused us to postpone any major climbs for that year. We have, however, established a short training course in the fundamentals of rock climbing, emphasizing such features as belaying, rappelling, and rope tension climbing, using as guides such publications as the excellent Handbook of American Mountaineering and the Sierra Club pamphlet Belaying the Leader.

Shortly before the organization of our club, an accident occurred in the local Organ Mountains by a party consisting of military personnel from nearby White Sands Proving Ground, resulting in the death of one and the injury of a second person. Subsequently, the Provost Marshal of this base requested that our club furnish a list of safety rules to be used as a guide for military personnel at White Sands wishing to climb in the future. We complied, emphasizing the point that hikers inexperienced in rope and piton work, should avoid exposed slopes, the reason, insofar as we could determine, of the accident.

Our southern locality and lack of opportunity for major expeditions excludes us from extensive snow and ice work, so we plan to specialize in rock climbing.

The Organ Mountains, in which we do most of our climbing, extend in a north-south direction for about 30 miles with an average depth of about 10 miles. They rise from the desert floor to a height of over 9,000 feet, and consist of rhyolite and granite spires, getting their name from the fact that they resemble the pipes of an organ. Their climbing history was meager until after World War II when German rocket scientists from White Sands Proving Ground undertook some of the more difficult ascents. There are an estimated 20 spires requiring rope tension methods. We cordially invite any members of the American Alpine Club who are interested in rock climbing to visit our Organ Mountains and climb with us.

Harry S. Davis, President

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