The Organ Mountains are an iconic part of the Mesilla Valley, New Mexico. This week they will be given the status of national monument.
The Las Cruces Sun reports: “President Obama will sign a proclamation Wednesday establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, Obama’s decision represents a victory for the group that has spent nearly a decade pushing for greater federal protection of the nearly 500,000 acres contained within the monument area. They say the designation will protect the area’s history, culture and scientific resources, while benefiting the local economy and maintaining recreational activities.”
Opponents fear access restrictions will hurt area law enforcement efforts and ranching.
“The president can declare a national monument under the act, but only Congress can designate wilderness areas. In a national monument, camping, backpacking, hunting, fishing and horseback riding are allowed, as is riding in motorized vehicles on designated roads. Existing uses, such as grazing, are maintained. In a wilderness, use of mechanized equipment is limited to retain the ‘primeval character and influence’ of the land.”
People have been climbing in the Organ Mountains for decades. The range is 20 kms east of Las Cruces and about a 90-minute drive from Hueco Tanks in Texas. There are 26 granite peaks that jut up, and very little climbing has been done.
In the 1960s, R.L. Ingraham climbed many new routes, “I myself have been told many times by old-timers and other townsfolk that ‘you can’t get into them mountains,’ that ‘no one has ever been on top of them’ and so on,” said Ingraham. He established over 70 routes.
It is unknown what the new national monument status will do to climbing access in the Organs.
Organ Mountains classics:
Orgy 5.6, five pitches, ORP
North Face 5.6+ R, 10 pitches, Sugarloaf
Left Eyebrow 5.7 R, eight pitches, Sugarloaf
West Ridge 5.7, five pitches, the Wedge
West Face 5.7, four pitches, Middle Rabbit Ear
West Ridge 5.8, four pitches, the Citadel
Gertch’s Folly 5.8, five pitches, Gertch
Tooth Fairy 5.9, four pitches, the Tooth
Tooth or Consequences 5.10, five pitches, the Tooth
Science Friction 5.11, four pitches, Sugarloaf
Sources: Cruces Sun, Climbing Magazine, Wikipedia