Picacho Peak

3-Dec-95 (Private trip)

By: Erik Siering


It sure was a lot of fun. It was party time.

Seventeen climbers assembled at Picacho State Park in the cold, dark Saturday morning. Grumbling was heard on the ungodly hour. Our 5:00 a.m. meeting had been intended to put our anticipated group of thirty+ on route B by dawn, figuring on a summit turnaround by noon. However, last minute flu casualties and general attrition halved our group size.

Climbers were Dan Richter, Tina Stough, Tom Bowman, Vic & Sue Henney, Leslie Hofherr, Patty Kline, Ann Kramer, John & Carol McCully, Steve Nardi, Greg & Mirna Roach, Tom Sumner, George Toby, and Ron Young. Charlie Knapke joined us midclimb. Edna Erspamer (been there, done that) and "Chessie" McCully sat out the climb and enjoyed the view. The trailhead drive was high-clearance in spots; the McCullys' sedan was parked when the wash turned rough. We headed up at 6:00, toting our assemblage of ropes and gear.

Most took a belay on the ladderless first pitch out of the notch. A fixed line was set at the subsequent step (jump!) across. We spotted Charlie rapidly approaching from below, having missed our rendezvous. A well-crafted ladder aided the second pitch, to which we added a rope, principally for the later downclimb. Charlie free-climbed the false summit and belayed the rest of us up. Here we found a recliner and TV, but alas, no toilet seat. Rapping off the other side, we then sauntered to the apex of Little Picacho. Seven DPS list finishers were present. Vic and Sue had summited for the fourth time! Photos galore.

A low flyby of jet fighters saluted us before we headed down. We considered the keyhole on the descent, but chose to reascend the false summit using cascaded etriers we'd brought. This was fun and went quickly. Another rappel, and we then downclimbed our way to the notch. Carol did fine on her first ever rappels. John caught some air on the last pitch. Ann bruised a rock with her bottom. We were back to the cars just past noon.

Champagne and beer soon flowed readily. We took the nice group site ($75/nite, reservable) at the state park. Mass consumption ensued. Lunch segued into dinner, dinner into noshing. We devoured Ann's turkey, Tom's chili, Tina's veggies, Mirna's salad, Sue's cake, et al. Everything. Karen Leonard joined us midway. The hard core partiers, beer and firewood lasted nearly till midnight.

The peakbaggers dispersed Sunday for nearby DPS climbs, while others lazily headed home. Greg, Mirna, Ann and I stopped for a morning soak at Highline Hot Well. This fine cement pool hot spring is situated on BLM land an hour west of Yuma and fifty yards north of Interstate-8. It is reached from the eastern exit in Holtville (Van Der Linden), heading east less than a mile on the frontage road (Evan Hughes Hwy). Clothing requirements should be agreed upon with the other bathers present; it is near an RV park frequented by a mature crowd, and in full view of I-8 traffic. It was fun to toast and moon truckers as they whizzed by blaring their horns...

Special thanks to Dan, Tina, Greg, Charlie, and everyone else who pitched in to setting up and maintaining the ropework. The best part of this trip was the group. My regrets to those who couldn't join the climb due to our original number. Now for other list finish parties, fun routes and desert climbs without a list in mind!

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