Doña Ana County High Point Trip Report

Organ Needle

Date: March 31, 2001
Author: Scott Holzhauser

We drove to a parking place on the jeep road and started hiking on the 4100ft climb. Ben Zerbey drove another mile or so on the bad dirt road, reducing his climb by about 500ft. Everybody reached the first saddle in good time where the first to arrive enjoyed a 35 minute break. Some call this juniper saddle, but the only juniper tree was cut down last year to land a helicopter on the site to transport the remains of a fatal climbing expedition member back to town.

The passage up through Dark Canyon went well as all the snow had melted, helped by strong, warm winds the week before the climb. We waited at Dark Canyon saddle for everyone to regroup, then went down the east side a bit, and climbed the standard route, marked by orange spots painted on the rocks. At the class four rock climb, everyone was able to go up without a rope and all eleven enjoyed lunch at the summit.

On the way down, out came the climbing rope and harness. Two people used it to climb down the face of the rocks, including myself. Many thanks to Scott Surgent for bringing the good climbing rope and harness and packing them up the mountain. Many thanks also to Chip Arnberg for belaying the climbers, using his expertise in the use and practical application of the climbing rope and harness. Together Scott and Chip made the rock scramble safe for everybody, regardless of their climbing ability or fear of heights.

We regrouped twice more, at Dark Canyon saddle, then again at juniper saddle. Here the group broke into two. I led the faster group of seven down and we arrived at the cars at about sundown. Annie Gordon, who is slow downhill, her husband Ron, Ben Zerbey, the oldest member of the group and the one who has been up and down Organ Needle more than anyone else in the group, and Scott Surgent were in the second group. Fortunately Ben's car was closer and they were able to cut off some of the return trip. It was dark by then.

In the aftermath of the hike, both Annie and I decided it was our last trip up Organ Needle. There are just too many other interesting places to visit.