By: John Vitz
We have it on good authority that Gordon MacLeod has been receiving threatening letters from many of the participants in this trip. He not only set up a ridiculously late meeting time, but also managed to fink out on the whole trip. He was able to con the infamous John Vitz into leading the trip for him, so one can imagine the surprise and disgust that the group registered when they arrived at the meeting place. They had been expecting to be ably led up this mountain and they were instead in the clutches of a leader who considers any trip to be successful if as few as two people are lost.
We waited only ten minutes for stragglers in La Puerta before leaving for the roadhead. The leader, fearing the consequences of not enough parking and too much soft sand, made the group stop much too soon. It was very warm as we started across the flats toward the range, walking on the road that should have been driven. So while son Harvey returned for his pickup and roared by us with a load of lazy climbers into a sand wash whereupon he went POOF. About this time Eric Schumacher came running across the desert from where he had parked the night before. Eric had known the roadhead in advance as this was his third or forth trip to the area. He wanted to know why we were walking and then muttered something about idiots as he ran back to his car. He proceeded up the road that he was on until he had to pull over to allow a gravel truck to pass. POOF.-2.
The peak is only about 3500 feet high but is extremely rugged. There are sand washes to slog up, boulders to hop over, waterfalls to pass, steep, hard, loose, decomposed granite slopes to ascend, and a ridge to traverse. The range contains dense Sonoran desert plants, beautiful granitic cliffs and canyons, and superb views of Laguna Salada, the Sierra Juarez, and the Sierra San Pedro Martir (Big Picacho was visible). The climb was clearly going to last until after dark. Bud and Bep Bingham showed uncommonly good sense for desert peakers by turning around early. Four others stopped at the summit ridge and Eric and Joan Hack proceeded somewhere in between. The group started down with everyone going at his own pace leaving the leader on the summit to offer congratulations to Eric as he finished the list.
He said that he and Joan were going to descend slowly and that we should not wait for them. So we all staggered down the mountain at various speeds. Bob Herlihy made it before dark. Betty Dessert and Paul Lipsohn took a wrong turn and had to climb over a low ridge in the dark to find the cars. Larry Fink led the middle group back and was pulling Wilson's truck out of the sand as Karl Bennett, Ed Treacy and I stumbled over the moonlit rocks with Jerry Keating, old heat exhaustion himself, and Andy Smatko, two and a half weeks after a hernia operation. And he should know better. We moved camp up closer to the end of the road and in doing so - POOF-3. About 10:30 we retired to the sack to fight off the voracious Imperial Valley mosquitoes - we lost. About midnight Eric and Joan came wandering in and wanted to know where their car was. It hadn't moved.
Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the|
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides
|DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section|