Cerro Pinacate, Kino Peak, Mount Ajo, Baboquivari Peak
5-Apr-97 (Private trip)
By: Linda McDermott
Weather reports had snow on Babe late in the week of April 1, so plans had to be altered quickly. Instead of Babo first, it was put to a doubtful last. Garnet Roehm and I carpooled all the way to Babo to pick up a climber or two who didn't get the message about the change. We could see snow on the peak on Friday evening as we left the campground - this didn't look good! Our group met at Organ Pipe Cactus campground early Sat. morning for the fairly confusing process of getting Mexican insurance and stopping at the information booth just off the road to Pinacate for permission and a donation. From his information booth, it is easy to pick up the route to Pinacate as described in the guide. We had four 4-wheel drive vehicles which made it nice for some of the gully crossings. Consolidating people and leaving all non-essential gear in the US was great and made us feel more at ease.
The climbing route went well, going over some of the lava beds, and avoiding most of them. We went behind Carnegie Peak, on the left side, which has somewhat of a use trail running at the base of it. The rest of the route was fairly straightforward, and it was hard to believe how quickly I came down what took forever for me to get up. Best part of any desert trip is the pot luck, and that was terrific as always. We had a group site at Organ Pipe which served our purposes well, the only complaint being that our "fire ring" was actually in the waist-high grills!
Next morning we again got a very early start to get over to Kino using the "A" route. The trail into the base went very well from Bates Wells (although we had no trouble leaving our gear in our vehicles here, the Organ Pipe rangers had advised against it). After the long trudge through the desert and reaching the saddle, we went up the route, finding ducks along the trail as we needed them. Nice (but long) trip back - the best part of hiking along the desert floor is that you can see hawk's nests and other flora and fauna that you usually miss as you worry where your next step will be. Thanks to Eric Beck for leading both peaks so successfully.
After Kino, the group split up. A small group went back to Organ Pipe to do Ajo on Monday (led by Lori), several went home, and Garnet and I headed for Babo, hoping for the best.
Participants on Pinacate/Kino: Eric Beck, Lori Lando, Garnet Roehm, Ron Grau, Ellen Senior, John Gibba. Ernie Spiehler, Neal Scott, Linda McDermott, Judy Hummerick, Richard Whitcomb.
Ajo: Lori, Eric, Neall Ellen, and Ernie.
Babo - We got an early start on Monday morning. After two days of climbing, I was a bit slow going uphill, so it took over three hours to get to the base of the slabs where a pile of old lumber is a historical remnant of a depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps project that they put in the trail and a fire lookout on the summit. We scrambled up the slabs and on to the 4th class pitch.
The 100' pitch on the right still had a bit of water and ice from the previous week's storm. Garnet was able to clip into the two fixed bolts on the left of the pitch then decided to put on rock climbing shoes to make the final off-route moves up the rock on the left. By going to the left, there was no moisture or ice on the rocks. He put anchors around rocks to belay me to the midway point up the pitch, far to the left. Once I was anchored, he traversed the rest of the pitch to the oak tree at the top of the pitch then belayed me to the right- side chute above and on up.
Turns out, we had snow on the route for the next several hundred feet and it made for slower-going. The chockstone was still a small obstacle, and once above the gully beyond it there was no snow: and only fantastic views and blue skies on top. We reached the summit mid-afternoon, and therefore spent very little time on top. Because there was a snow bank perhaps going 8-10' up the base of the rock pitch, we were able to use one rope to rappel the 80-90' pitch from the oak tree to snow - longest rappel I have done in years (maybe ever, but I didn't admit that to Garnet!).
We got to the trail and descended quickly, though not before dark. I will never forget the sun setting behind layers of mountain ranges as we looked out on the desert floor from the trail. Good thing there was trail so we didn't have to watch every step. We were almost to the campground when it finally got too dark to see the trail in one particularly broad sandy spot, so we did use flashlights to get back into camp. Two things were great about getting out in the dark: we saw a wild javalina (small wild pig-type creature) and the comet was spectacular - we thought we could distinguish the spaceship too.
Must say that the Babo campground is one of the prettiest desert spots I have stayed in, very clean and well kept. The caretaker was there on the weekend when we picked up one of our group, but we saw' no sign of anyone to pay mid-week. When I had called the district office, I was told I could get the permit to climb and pay fees to the caretaker. In this case, there was no one.
Another interesting highlight in the area is Picture Rock which is on an off-shoot of the road to the campground. Signs are easy to find, and the rock is unmistakable. There are lots of petroglyphs, so be sure to stop by and take a look.
My thanks to Garnet for helping me up such a beautiful peak, and making it a safe climb.
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