17 March 2012 After Action Report W5/SI-018 Hill 6978 Grand Central Mountain
A bad day at black rock! Tom NM5TW and I spent two weeks planning the assault on the Cerrillos Hills SOTA Cluster. We determined the route of approach was legal and spent several lunch breaks at the BLM office in Albuquerque. It had been reported that this particular hill was in private land. We found that it was deep in BLM land. In fact it was bounded on the south by Cerrillos Hills State Park. The confusion probably resulted in well signed private land just to the east of the state trail system. We approached the Grand Central Mountain via the Cortez trail and then on to the Escalante Trail. At this point to be legal a short bushwhack across state land will put you at the BLM boundary just below the Grand Central Mine. WE elected to follow a horse trail just east of the fence line. Which may have put us in private land for about 100 yards? I believe based on the BLM Maps that the signs may have been encroaching on federal land. We found BLM and Federal Historical markers exactly where our research had indicated it would be. The Actual assault on the mountain was to be up the shallow valley and then up the East Ridge line. Roads and trail lead about a third of the way up. Our troubles began when we tried to traverse through a shallow Col. We encountered a carpet of Cactus. There was rock scree and rubble that made footing very unsure. It was at this point NM5TW took a tumble and landed in a prickly pear cactus garden. We spent about 90 min picking spines out of his bum. A trooper, never the less Tom continued and we began to look for any resemblance of a trail. None were be found. We aborted about a third of the way up. By this time we were both beat up. We never activated the mountain. I do not believe we will reattempt any mountain in this cluster. We picked the easiest, the others may need basic rock climbing skills. The good news is we did find a route in. Any SOTA activator is welcome to email us for now hard earned local knowledge. There is no potable water in the area. There are Nemours abandon mine shafts, some quite deep. We threw a rock down the vent shaft of Grand central and counted about 6 seconds until it hit. Rattle snakes will be a real hazard in a few weeks. The North side of the mountain may have fewer cacti. I would like to see this mountain on the SOTA Spot list as active.