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Ortega Cut, NM
mini location map2016-10-21
33 by photographer avatarimike
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Ortega Cut, NM 
Ortega Cut, NM
Canyoneering avatar Oct 21 2016
Canyoneering12.00 Miles 2,900 AEG
Canyoneering12.00 Miles   9 Hrs   45 Mns   1.45 mph
2,900 ft AEG   1 Hour   30 Mns Break
Basic Canyoneering - Scrambling; easy climbing/downclimbing; frequent hand use; rope recommended; easy exit
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Finally... after four years of glancing over and down (or up) into this longest of the Marble North spur canyons, we wandered up into this cut. It was not what I expected.

From the north side ridges it displayed bedrock slabs. The impression was that it would be an open amble... broad sidewalk of tilted slab. I knew the entry might pose a problem; I'd tried four years earlier with Yubao and we were turned back... 12-30' dryfall with no obvious routing... on that day we went another way.

As always, Marble North was exceptional... fun and challenging scrambles. Great moments of Rock. Nice Vistas.

It was a bit different today... I was slipping and sliding around due to a shoe malfunction. I'd come across a nearly new pair under the bed...and at the last moment put them on instead of my normal scrambling shoes. I was surprised to find new shoes... by end of day I realized why they had been tucked away: slipperly souls!!

The climbs were made precarious... and finally, I fell. I was at the top of a 12' bouldering... and I got lucky. My feet came together, head back... I landed upright, and Ross was standing there to keep me from tipping back over and falling the additional 10'. Bruised a bit... not busted.

That element continued to impact the climbing for the rest of the day, but it stayed fun.

Into the Ortega Cut we worked our way up to the lower blockage. There were routes. I liked the too slick left side, but the upper rock was rotten. We opted for a sidehill scramble up the right side...spotted and chosen by Mary.

The canyon stayed consistent... small boulders and massively overgrown! I spent a great amount of time clearing our route. It will be fun to return and ascend with the newly opened route. The slab sidewalks were not there.

We knew there would be two massive blocking dryfalls... 30-60' with no obvious relief. Reaching the lower one it displayed to be as shear as expected. From above we had spotted a side drainage that cut cleanly through that level of cliff, but it was well down canyon... an extra hour of effort if we chose to use it to ascend. I opted for us to move along the cliff base, hoping to find a reasonable route.

There were a number of climbable sections, but having had one fall earlier, and not trusting my feet... and even more important: lots of rotten slab face... I passed up the early options and took us over to a 16' vertical face of good rock. It had the benefit of a nice vertical slot midway up. I carefully made my way up... realizing as I climbed that we had a problem: Mary would not be able to make this ascent. While she's made remarkable progress over the last year, this little climb included details she had yet to encounter. Fortunately, I'd packed my hand rope... 30' knotted. It worked! Was not pretty... probably was not much fun for her, but she topped out. Ross followed using the rope assist which he probably did not need.

Second dryfall gave us one of the easiest up imaginable... and the upper canyon flattened ... soon carrying us up to our easy exit route... the "A" trail!

Deer and sheep provided some diversions on the day... all in all... a very nice loop. And, after too many years, The Ortega Cut is done!

We still have S4, S5, S6, S7, S8 and N9 to check out... Marble North is not done.

Unfortunately, the picture set will not include the great moments... hands were too busy during the climbs!
Ageless Mind... Timeless Body... No Way! Use It and Lose It. Just the way it is...
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