Mount Ajo, Kino Peak, Cerro Pinacate
9-Apr-93 (Private trip)
By: David Campbell
Over the recent Easter weekend ( Apr. 9-11, 1993 ) Dick Searle, Jack Archibald and I enjoyed climbing the three peaks listed above. It was a bit warm, but cactus and other flowers were nice. A recent Desert Sage trip report suggested that the drive to the normal roadhead for Cerro Pinacate was hard to find and that 4-wheel drive was advised, so we took my Toyota Pickup. However, we found the route exactly as described in the Road Peak Guide, 3rd Edition, and never used 4WD. From 15 miles away, we could see large fields of yellow flowers on the mountain's slopes. All the way up we were in either lava flaws, wild flowers, or cholla, all very scenic. The yellow flowers were mostly brittlebush. Circling south of Carnegie Peak we passed through large fields of pink penstemons. From the summit we saw road tracks leading close to the peak from the north side of Carnegie. Far variety we returned that way, but stayed too long with the tracks, which led much out of the way to the north. So He just went cross country back toward the "reddish butts" and the truck. Much of the charm of this peak is its remoteness, so we sort of regretted the existence of the tracks leading so close to the mountain. The normal route is certainly short enough (6 mrt) that there is no need to drive closer.
Ajo was a very pleasant hike and on this one we saw other hikers. The peak is really class I as there is a use trail all the way. To do it this way, after passing the Bull Pasture Trail sign-in box and descending downhill just keep on the trail rather than turning east cross country as indicated in the R & P Guide. A good trail leads above the right side of the wash to the "base of the steep cliffs ahead". Upon reaching the "base of the chute" you have a choice. You can cross to the left and take the R & P Guide route up to the summit ridge. We ascended that way. Or you can follow the obvious use trail up on the right side of the cliffs and continue northward on the trail just above the top of the cliffs. We descended that way, but due to the "ball bearing gravel" on the use trail I would recommend the steeper, well ducked DPS route. Prettiest flowers enroute were hedgehog cactus, two varieties, mostly pink but an orange one near the summit.
Approaching Bates Well to do Kino we saw a Bobcat. And on the long walk across the desert (Route A) we saw, up close and personal, a rattlesnake and a Gila monster. On Kino we found the trip report in the Sage, Issue 224, to be a useful supplement to the guide. The only route-finding challenge, as pointed out by Mark Adrian, is where to turn left after ascending past the "prominent pinnacle" above the 1800 ft. saddle. We also searched too high and too low before finding "the crux duck". My altimeter indicates it is at 2750 ft., the same elevation as the notch. We added a duck to make it easier to find the left turn, so look for the crux dux. Once you turn left there, the route to the notch is well ducked. You don't have to drop into the second chute on the traverse, but climb up its right border right into the notch. From there the route up the NW face of Kino is very well marked. We failed to find any 3rd Class, but must admire those who pioneered this somewhat complex route. One final note: on the last 2.5 miles approaching the 1800 ft. saddle, it is easier to stay directly in the sandy wash, rather than on its W side. This avoids crossing many side gullies as well as considerable cholla.
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