Big Horn Peak, Picacho Peak

21-Jan-98 (Private Trip)

By: Linda McDermott


Ted had invited Jim Hinkley, Neal Scott, Jeanette Vincent and me along on a mountain climb that involved "surprise peaks." In retrospect, I must say that I am learning what Ted's language means when he schedules peaks and climbs (i.e., "well, let's see here" means I'm going to be somewhat scared, "this seems to go" means I'11 probably be scared, and "uh-oh" means I'd better just bite the bullet and get up there - special thanks to Jeanette who is educating me to his language as we travel together).

I was honored to be asked on the trip, so decided "surprise peaks" couldn't be all that bad. We drove through Blythe and Quartzite then went another 50 miles on US 10 to exit 81 where the rest of the group was waiting for us just off the freeway. We camped here for the night and rose early to get to the road-head for Big Horn Peak, a terrific-looking peak where we hoped to see big horn sheep (no luck).

We started up the main wash, after parking right under a powerline tower so the cars would be easy to spot. We ascended a ridge, turned left and ran the main ridge to the top of the peak. It was misty, which always adds to the flavor of any trip.

We made it back down to the cars when Ted gave two options for Sunday: Signal or Little Picacho. Because I wanted toget both Signal and Castle Dome together, I voted for Little Picacho. Little Picacho had meant a great deal to me the previous year, being the first real challenging peak I had done since I had broken my ankle. The ordinary trailhead parking place just below the mine had been bulldozed so heavily because of the rains, it was impossible to get across the berm to park. Therefore, we went down another 1.2 miles to park in another gully, thus adding a bit of mileage.

Apparently my nerve left me that day, because even though I had another 50 peaks under my belt since Little Picacho last year, I still was scared. We got to the base of the peak and to the first "event" - the underhanging rock ascent. Ted went up first and set up a belay rope. The next "event" was the step across. Ted, Jim and Neal all jumped across that point. Jeanette was getting ready to do so also, but decided to put on a rope. There was never a question of whether to use a rope or not in my mind. After painful decision- making, I decided to go down and up the crack to the right of the jump-across. It went very well, and I still was belayed.

The ladder was the next "event" and it was still in place. We decided to rappel down the false summit, on the left. That went very well, no problems, and we climbed to the top of the peak where we ate lunch. Going back up the rappel spot, Ted belayed us from below while we up- climbed. I was nervous about this spot too because last year I had dislocated my shoulder several times and had asked Wayne Norman to "haul me up" that spot. I've learned what does and doesn't work with my shoulder, and compensated this time with no problem and no dislocated shoulder. Back down the ladder, and to the jump- across where once again I elected to go up and down the crack. We had a rope on us down the final spot, and I started smiling and laughing again once we got back to the flat ridge. Thanks to Ted for getting me yet another of the harder peaks on the DPS list. Participants: Ted Brasket, Jeanette Vincent, Neal Scott, Jim Hinkley, and Linda McDermott.

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