Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trail Running Santa Fe Baldy and the Three Peaks

SF Baldy (L), Penitente and Lake Peaks (center-L), Tesuque Pk (center)
A reader sent over a listing of top performances for a few of the northern New Mexico summit trail runs. The listing comes from the MTN RNR trail running series, an informal group of local backcountry runners that get together to run-out these established courses on an annual basis and have been keeping records of best performances going back to the 1980’s.

The recognized Three Peaks route begins at the Santa Fe Ski Basin (10,000ft), heads up Winsor Trail to the summit of Santa Fe Baldy (12,622ft), descends south and passes through the Puerto Nambe saddle over to Penitente Peak (12,160ft), then up the east ridge of Lake Peak (12,409ft), traversing minor highpoint Deception Peak and just below the radio towers on Tesuque Peak (12,000ft), down Aspen Vista Rd to the trailhead, then a brief climb up Hyde Park Rd to the starting point. Roundtrip distance is 18.7mi with 4,550ft of climbing.

Best recorded performances of the Three Peaks route are the following:
 (M) Record:  Leo (Senovio) Torres – Cordova, NM, 2hrs 56min 56sec (1992)
 (W) Record:  Katie Gengler – 3:46:00 (1998)
 (M) Masters:  Leo (Senovio) Torres – 3:19:55 (1995)
 (W) Masters:  Ginny LaForme – 4:26:59 (1995)

Santa Fe Baldy (L), Deception Peak (near), Lake Peak (R)
Rumor has it that the late Russian alpinist Anatoli Boukreev may have challenged or bettered Torres’ record during one of his Santa Fe training sessions, but I haven’t heard enough detail to substantiate more than a mention in passing here.

Regardless, that is smokin' fast. I've run to Baldy summit in around 1hr 30min. Now that's not time-trialing but even if you take that down 15min you still need to add the traverse to Penitente and Lake Peaks (~1hr), the descent to Aspen Vista trailhead (I've raced down in 35min which isn't superfast but top speed for myself), then another 10min climb to the car. So my fastest possible times all linked together would still be short by 15-20min of Torres' best. The guy is a legend and deservedly so.

I’ve received a couple other emails regarding area records and performance lists and have added them to the updated New Mexico Records page along with the times above. The Tough Guy page has also been updated with a few runner profiles from the Four Minute Milers list. Good reading.

Related Links
- Santa Fe Area Trails List
- Santa Fe Peaks and Summits

View Deception Peak - Santa Fe in a larger map


  1. This Sunday a bunch from Los Alamos will be running the Beyond Baldy run, which is up Winsor to Baldy, cross country over to the next Peak (Redondito?), down to the lake and back on the northern end of the Winsor and up the Skyline trail over Lake and Penitente.

  2. Steve, just found this in my spam filter. Wish I could join you all but I'm just not in mountain shape right now unless it involves being stationary and fueling with cold Sierra Nevadas. I'd love to do some Bandelier runs if you have that in your schedule this summer. Let me know and I'll come up. KB



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