Baboquivari Peak, Cerro Pinacate


By: Dave Jurasevich


On Thanksgiving Day, November 28th five of us met at the Baboquivari Campground to do a climb of that peal. The group included Les Hill, Arthur Lin, Rheta Schoeneman, Mart Adrian and myself. That morning at the trailhead we met a DPS group led by Bill T. Russell bound for the same destination. After a stimulating hike to the base of the 4th Class wall, we donned our climbing harnesses for the rock climbing ahead. Les Hill lead the pitch in fine fashion and belayed the group to the top, where we continued on our way to the summit. A half hour break on the top was enough for signing the register, taking pictures and pointing out a few distant landmarks. Dark clouds approaching from the west hastened our descent, where we met the last of Bill's group making their way up. Back at the campground we were fortunate enough to lay claim to the nearby cabin for the evening. Around the cabin fireplace we had a Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, yams, corn-on-the-cob, tossed salad, an Italian gourmet dessert and plenty of drink to go around, putting the final touches on a great day.

The next morning we visited a sacred cave of the Tohono O'Odham Indians located high on the slopes behind the cabin. After making a small offering to the local gods we drove to our last tourist destination in the reservation, Picture Rock. Scattered along the S face of this rock can be found numerous petroglyphs of various shapes and sizes. Unlike the petroglyphs found in so many places in the desert, these were crafted on light colored rock instead of the usual darkened desert varnish.

With the tourist business complete we beaded off to Mexico and Cerro Pinacate. Strong winds, blowing sand and a threatening weather forecast out of Tucson sped us down early that afternoon to the Red Cone area of Pinacate. Hoping to get the peak and beat the incoming front we all agreed to go for it that day. Successful in the attempt, we returned to the cars under cloudy, starless skies on a cold, inky-black night. Mexican cuisine being the program that night, Rheta and Mark -struggled to keep the stoves going in a strong wind and prepared a delicious meal of burritos and refried beau. Fortification against the cold was provided in the form of tequila anêjo complete with salt, lime and sangrita chasers. We all fell asleep in our campers to the howling of the wind and the sound of raindrops hitting the roof.

By morning Cerro Pinacate and neighboring Carnegie Peak had a light blanket of snow on them down to about the 3000 foot level. Departing company with Rheta and Mart (they went out to attempt Mt. Ajo in the snow) on Saturday morning in the Sonoran desert, Les, Arthur and I decided to do some touring of the Pinacate region by driving to Volcan Elegante, a 4800 foot diameter x 800 foot deep crater hidden from ground view until you reach its rim. Continuing N from there we mapped the road access to Pinacate from Mexico Highway 2. This map will come out in the 4th edition of the Desert Peak Guide, however anybody interested in an advance copy car send me a SASE and I'd be happy to send them one.

The 3rd edition Desert Peaks Guide suggests that climbers intending to do Cerro Pinacate (see Sidelines 2) must check in with the Mexican Part Ranger in Sonoita before driving down. I tried that on this trip, only to find that the ranger was nowhere to be found. In checking with the rangers at Organ Pipe NM, they said that it was not mandatory to obtain a permit from the Mexican ranger but suggested that anyone going to the Pinacate area at least leave a note on his front door telling him you're down there. As is the case with Parque Nacional de Constitucion 1857 (Pico Risco) and Parque Nacional San Pedro Martir (Big Picacho), finding the ranger is a hit-or-miss deal.

A very good fold-out guide and topo map (showing major dirt roads in the area) to the Sierra del Pinacate can be obtained for $2.00 from the Organ Pipe NM Visitor Center. Using this map and occasionally Eating a compass bearing on some prominent landmark, we were always sure of our location in the area. For those interested in more detailed information on the geology, history and particulars of this area, the Visitor Center has a hardback book for $24.95 by Ronald L. Ives entitled Land of Lava, Ash, and Sand-The Pinacate Region of Northwestern Mexico. Ives was one of the foremost explorers of the Pinacate area and his book is filled with valuable information for anyone really serious about getting to know this remote land.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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