Picacho Peak


By: Maris Valkass, Igor Mamedalin


The last two or three years I have not been leading as many trips as in the past. Seems that I only get in three or four a year. I do go on several private trips, so at least I get some conditioning.

This was my first trip this year. As usual, there is some apprehension in the morning, as there are some people whom I did not know, or have not seen for a while. Then of course, there were two or three old friends. One should never worry about the people, at least not on DPS or SPS trips, they are always friendly and congenial. This certainly was no different.

It has been seven or eight years since I had done the peak so I picked a meeting place in the middle of the farm country in Winterhaven. We almost got mixed up with the farm workers going to the various fields. A better place would have been further down, across the canal.

We caravaned to the roadhead. Most of the place seemed the same, until you come to the mine. When I was there last, you almost could not see it from the road. Now it is huge, and I understand that they want to expand. We did not have a problem finding the right wash, but pulling in some cars had problems because of the high bank and soft gravel. We did have to push and pull couple of cars, but we did not lose any time.

The hike to the peak was straight forward, since you can see it all the way. When we started to ascend, I could not remember the route, and was too proud to read the directions (besides my glasses were buried in my pack), so, thanks to Bill Gray, who had been here last year, not very quietly, pointed out that I was on the wrong ledge. Not long after that, when I was merely leading the group onward and upward, Wayne Norman yelled from behind asking the meaning of the big arrow that we passed. Needless to say, the route had been changed since I was here last, so we followed the Big Arrow.

At the step across we set up a belay for those who wanted it, and left the rope behind for the return trip. Next place was the 6 or 7 foot rock climb which we climbed without belay. However, on the way back people preferred a belay for down climbing. A sturdy ladder was in the usual place, and everyone climbed it without any problems.

At the false summit you have a choice to climb it and then descend on the other side, or you can down climb to the left, and walk around it. This, I understand, was discovered by Randy Bernard's son few years ago. Since I had not climbed the second route, we selected it. This also is faster because you only down climb and climb back up, while the other way you do it twice. We all got to the summit, ate lunch and came back to thecars by 4 pm.

Since we had not planned anything specific for Sunday, some people went home. Others staved overnight and left in the morning. Those who stayed enjoyed a great campfire with sharing of wonderful food and each others company.

My thanks to those who volunteered their help in route finding, Igor for assisting, and others for sharing their time with me. The participants were: Randy Ragland, Barbara Cohen, Neal Scott, David Leth, Linda McDermott, Wayne Norman, David Baldwin, Elaine Baldwin, Bill Gray, Igor Mamedalin, Keats Hayden joined us for the campfire, Anna and myself.

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