A picturesque granite summit on the ridge between upper LaCueva and Chimney canyons. Because of the low angle of the rock, climbs tend to be easy to moderate. Lost ledge seems to be the classic here, starting in a beautiful and smooth dihedral.
Approach: Park in the upper Sandia Crest parking lot. Follow the fence line of the communication towers to the west, and follow a good trail down the east side of the mountain for a few switch backs until the limestone band is reached. For there, go left (or south) for about 100 feet until an easyish 4th class down climb is encountered (looks like a ramp for a while, the hard part is at the bottom). At the base of the down climb, trend a bit right and there is a climber’s trail that continues down, around a lesser formation, then to the sentinel. The map is a pretty rough drawing on how to get there, but should be helpful.
Can be done in 1 or 2 pitches. I would recommend one, which definitely can be done with a 60m rope and I believe it can be done with a 50m.Begin on the nice-looking right-facing dihedral, on the right (south) end of the west face of the formation. Good protection, good rock. Follow the lichen-covered crack in the middle of the dihedral to a small roof and step left, continuing on easy 5th class to the summit. The crack can also be continued through the roof (5.7) instead of traversing left....[more]Browse More Classics in NM
5.7 seems like quite a stretch. This was one of my first trad climbs, and I recall feeling like the rope was overkill. Just a lot of blocks and shrubs. I wouldn't make any special effort to climb this. There are many better climbs in the area. Tombstone, for example.
My wife and I ended up in a much steeper, loose, dangerous gulley. Quite possibly the approach to Torreon? (A cairn at the top of a granite 5.easy downclimb compounded the problem.) This gulley spat us out about 200ft south, of the south end of the Sentinal and we wasted tons of time there trying to get down and traverse back over to the Sentinal. Once we oriented ourselves, and hiked back out on the proper trail, it all became obvious. In the effort that it might help others, I contribute the following perception of the approach:
Leaving the parking lot: If, like me, you follow what you think is the *climber's trail* (ya' know, the steeper less switchback'y one), nearly down the fall line, and trend ever-so-slightly North, you will arrive almost exactly at the top of the limestone ramp.
The ramp: The ramp will be directly in-line between the southernmost towers, and the large dome to the west. If you are south of the towers, you are too far south (this was the most misleading part of the beta.) Viewing from the top, the ramp goes left at a low angle, with about a 5' drop in a notch at the bottom. If you end up at a straight down ramp, (high 4th, low 5th class) with tracks at the bottom (mine and others before me), you are in the wrong spot...go north.
The trail: It is only faint for a short stretch in the trees below the limestone, the rest of it is a relative superhighway, typical of a moderate route close to the car. If you end up at a dry, sandy, head-wall overlook above a gulley, with a cairn, you are in the wrong spot.