El Picacho del Diablo
By: Bill Clifton
At 8 am Saturday twentyone people met at the El Paraiso Cafe/Gas Station 96 miles south of Mexicali. This should not be confused with the town of the same name farther down the San Filipe Road. After waiting a half hour for stragglers we left for Rancho Nuevo via the Valle de Trinidad Road. Continuing west from the ranch we soon arrived at the Canyon Diablito roadhead from where we backpacked north to the entrance to Canyon Diablo.
A half mile into the canyon is the first obstacle, a pool and waterfall which can be passed only by means of a fixed rope or a detour up the canyon wall. After getting the rope in place we ate lunch and played in the water. The next two miles of the canyon are quite rugged. From there it heads due south and is fairly gentle, containing many fine sandy campsites. We used the one on the west bank right at the main southward turn.
The next day was spent moving the group to a point midway between Smatko's, Camp and Campo Noche. We camped in a spot containing small sand flats and many trees and shrubs. Early the next morning people started to struggle into Campo Noche. There was a group of some 25 people already there but they were planning to move up onto the mountain that afternoon. The day was spent loafing and exploring as one group scouted the lower part of Gorin's Gully for a possible ascent of Blue Bottle.
The plan of attack was devised around a fine campfire that night. We were to start out as one group but would separate into a fast and a slow group while climbing in the Night Wash. We left at 7 am and soon polarized into two groups as people climbed at different speeds. Since the only person to have climbed the peak previously was bringing up the rear we all got an exercise in route-finding. The first group reached the summit shortly after ten. After an hour or so, on top and deciding not to cross to the south summit we started, down. The slow group was passed at the mouth of the gully leading from the Slot Wash to Wall Street and one member of that group decided to return to camp. We arrived back at camp about 2:30 and killed the afternoon relaxing in the stream and around camp.
About five it became apparent that the slow group was not going to return before dark, so two people packed summit packs with jackets, food, water, and flashlights and started up the mountain. At dark the missing people were encountered in the slot Wash about 1800 feet above camp. One woman had fallen against a tree and apparently cracked a rib. We descended to camp in the dark by making our way from duck to duck by flashlight, arriving at 10:20.
The next day people started leaving in small groups to head back to the cars. One group left to climb Blue Bottle but were unsuccessful, and others layed over a full day. Everyone was back to the cars by Saturday morning. The leaders would like to thank Bob Vinton for his help in leading both the backpack and the climb and especially John Forester for his help with the night rescue and the hike out.
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