The Northern New Mexico Peak Challenge

Art by Melissa Bartlett

Inspired by the success of the Passport to the Pajarito Plateau, PEEC and the Los Alamos Mountaineers are taking things to a literal new level with the brand new Northern New Mexico Peak Challenge. For the Peak Challenge, we consider all of northern New Mexico to be our backyard, and have selected seven iconic peaks as the goals. Anyone who climbs all seven has explored the roof of northern New Mexico, and looked down on much of the rest. The peaks include:

  • Wheeler Peak, 13,161′: The highest point in the state of New Mexico
  • Jicarita Peak, 12,835′: The northern outlier of the Truchas massif
  • Santa Fe Baldy, 12,361′: Sentinel of the south end of the Sangre de Cristo and the American Rockies
  • Mount Taylor, 11,306′ high and 4,000 feet above its surrounds: The southern sacred mountain of the Navajo
  • Sandia Crest, 10,678′: Standing guard almost 4,000 feet above the Albuquerque basin
  • Cerro Pedernal, 9,866′: Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic mountain, standing as a landmark at the northern end of the Jemez
  • Otowi Peak, 6,547′: The volcanic plug visible from White Rock on the eastern skyline

From their summits one can see far north into Colorado, south to Sierra Blanca, itself the southernmost major peak in the continental states, west into Navajo lands, and, from many angles, back to our own Pajarito Plateau.

The Challenge is simple: go climb them all (for Pedernal, the bottom of the summit cliff counts as a climb). But you need not climb them alone. The Los Alamos Mountaineers will be leading hikes up all of the peaks this year and returning regularly thereafter. Participation in the hikes will be free to PEEC members, Mountaineers, or Challenge registrants. You must register for the Challenge to have the hikes count. The peaks have been selected to be accessible in a day trip from Los Alamos, although some trips will offer an overnight option to avoid a very long day. The hikes are intended as a physical challenge, ranging from tough-moderate to strenuous. To verify each climb, participants will submit a photo of themselves at the top, or will be counted on the Mountaineers trip roster. Look for trip announcements on the PEEC and Mountaineers websites. Photos can be submitted to challenge@peecnature.org.

Please note that these hikes are extremely strenuous. We do not recommend attempting them if you are not an experienced hiker. Participants will be asked about their experience with climbs of this nature when registering for a Peak Challenge group hike. Climbing Pajarito Mountain or Cerro Grande Peak are great hikes to get started training for the Peak Challenge and both are in PEEC’s Passport to the Pajarito Plateau, Part III!

PEEC will conduct registration for the Peak Challenge. Participants must pay a $10 fee to enroll and can do this online or in person. Upon completing the seven hikes, Peak summiteers will receive an award coin specifically created for the Challenge, and will be honored on the PEEC website. Please join the Peak Challenge!

Register for the Peak Challenge here

Do you have questions? Check out our Peak Challenge FAQs page for more information.