El Picacho del Diablo


By: Dale Van Dalsem


Only 8 of us met Sat A.M. at the Vallecitos turnoff from the Observatorio road. The Observatorio sign is gone at the Hwy 1 turnoff, but the Rancho Meling sign is there, but hard to see at night. Didn't get away from MDR until 3 P.M. Friday; didn't get to the Vallecitos turnoff from Observatorio road until 3 A.M. Unless you get away by noon on the Friday of a holiday weekend, forget it.

We drove in 12+ miles to the shack, hiked NE to Blue Bottle saddle & paused while some climbed Cerro Botella Azul, 300' gain. Then the 3,000 drop to Campo Noche, following the painted green dots down the talus in the middle. About a 7.5-hr day.

It rained that evening; no campfire. Around 7:30 P.M., Larry Tidball, Barbie Hoffman, & Bill Oliver returned from bagging the peak, via the Night Wash/Slot Wash/Wall Street Ruta Normal. They had come in a day earlier and planned to attempt the fearsome pinnacle Ridge route. A touch of snow (?) & a bit of rain & they, of course, wimped out & packed down to Campo Noche and bagged the peak on the day we hiked in.

Sunday we climbed the 4000', cl 2/3, Normal Route, in a slow but steady 9 hrs 40 E.T., R.T, & had a victory campfire. Monday we hiked out in 6.5 hrs, before noon. Somehow it took us 12 hours to get home, even though the border crossing at Tijuana was only 25 minutes.

Participants were: Dan Sherman (finished the list on this trip!), Mario Gonzalez (3rd ascent), Dale Van Dalsem (3rd ascent), Julie Rush, Judy Ware, Tom Scoyt, Tom Moumblow, & Eddie Nunez

Wendy Ruess & John McCully, and ferocious Doberman Chessie started up the canyon Friday A.M. In camp that night Wendy had a sharp pain In her neck & fainted. Then a day in camp & out & home. Cat scan & examinations followed &, fortunately, she only had 3 pinched nerve, exacerbated by carrying a backpack. This would have been John's 7th ascent; only Ron Jones, with 10 or 11, has more, unless Jerry Schad or some of the San Diego folks have snuck in for more!

Big Picacho was my first desert peak, in '77, and remains a favorite!

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