Shortest of the Big Ears
There are three Rabbit Ear Peaks visible from the east side of the Organ Mountains, the shortest and easiest to access without gear is South Rabbit Ear. Still, due to the off trail nature, gully scrambling, bushwhacking, and route finding, this is no "easy" peak. Not for the average hiker, at least. Most of the hike is exactly the same as the hike for Rabbit Ears Plateau, because the access canyon and approach are the same. Therefore, you may want to combine them into one trip.
If you need greater detail to hike most of the way up what I previously, and erroneously referred to as "Big Windy Canyon", please refer to my Rabbit Ears Plateau hike description. The correct name of the approach canyon is Rabbit Ears Canyon. Park at the trailhead, hike up the road to the Topp Hut, continue to the mine, proceed on the trail heading north towards Rabbit Ears Canyon, and hike, scramble, and gain most of the canyon. As your hike arcs gently southeast towards the Plateau-South Rabbit Ears saddle, pay attention to the large peaks to the north.
North Rabbit Ear appears first, and is the largest of the peaks. It will disappear behind some low rocks before reappearing as you get higher up. You will soon see Middle and South Rabbit Ear Peaks come in to view. Once you begin to come into line directly below the large, obvious gully running out below the Middle and South R.E. saddle, start looking for the two pines on the south side of the canyon, up on a ledge. One is tall, one is short, and they form a pair that provide some slight confirmation you are on the correct path, if you like that. Once between the gully and the two pines, begin a harder scramble directly up the gully to the saddle between Middle and South Rabbit Ear. This is a vicious hike, but it is the preferred option to my stupid choice of bushwhacking over from near to the Plateau-South Ear saddle, which is thicker and far, far worse. Think: cholla!
Despite how hard it may seem to ascend this gully, it is overall a reasonable scramble. At times, you will need to climb small faces, cross gravel slides, or go through the brush. I had to leave the gully a few times on descent, and you likely will as well. Just keep pushing on, and in 45 to 60 minutes, you should be very near the saddle. Once there, most of the effort is over.
As you near the saddle, notice the fairly easy to climb rock on the right, or north side of South Rabbit Ear. Begin scrambling and climbing up this rock. I don't know what is the best route, but following what I did, make for the deep gully at the top of the easy rock and climb up that, heading east. A little beyond, you'll need to start to move south to the summit. You will have to get around some brush. None of the exposure is ever very great, and the rock is very good with many holds. The summit is marked with a rock pile. Celebrate 8,130' on South Rabbit Ear, and descend the way you came up. Be careful going down.
I found this to be a little harder than what I have experience with in the Sierra and northern Rockies for scrambling, but that may be due to the brush. Overall, if you feel uncomfortable, you are probably off route, as this is entirely doable at class 3. There are numerous class 4 and easy 5th class route on this peak, and this description serves as the descent route for them. Allow most of a day, avoid windy and lightning prone days, and enjoy. Expect ice and snow in winter.
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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