Pico Risco

7-Mar-98 (Private Trip)

By: Sue Holloway


Late last year when the Becks and I were comparing our DPS "To Do" lists, we saw that we all needed Pico Risco. Knowing how far in advance we plan our schedules, in December we all set aside the weekend of March 7 to do the peak. With the rains in January and February and continuing predictions of El Nino rains, it seemed unlikely that, even with all our advanced planning, we would be able to do the peak.

However, Mother Nature cooperated and after enjoying a week and a half of dry, warm weather and predictions of a continuing trend, we thought we just might have a chance to get this peak after all. I didn't want to spend a whole week-end doing one peak and Lori liked the idea of just doing it in one day so we made our plans for Saturday, March 7.

Neal Scott, John Cheslick, Richard Whitcomb and Judy Hummerich joined us as we left our San Diego meeting place at 5 a.m. The drive to Ensenada was pleasant as we enjoyed the beautiful sunrise. From Ensenada to Ojos Negros, the highway has numerous potholes but we made good time. Due to the heavy rainfall this winter, the dirt roads into Rancho San Luis were probably much worse than is normally encountered when others have done this peak. There were large areas of water that couldn't be avoided, somedeeper than the hubcaps of our vehicles (all trucks). Even with his 2 WD Toyota, Eric was able to negotiate the drive in and we were at the gate to the Rancho at 10: 10 a.m. Some of the group went to visit the man who lives there and took him our donations of canned food, fresh fruit and clothing. We started hik ing at 10:50 a.m.

After some searching, we found the use trail which was, for the most part, very easy to follow. We spent a bit of time looking for the "keyhole" but when we found it, we reached the summit at 1:10 p.m. Since our goal was to do this trip as quickly as possible, we took only enough time to pose for a picture and sign the register. We were back at the cars 1.5 hours later.

Since we were familiar with the road and the numerous "glitches", we expected the drive to be uneventful. In one particularly bad spot, Eric changed his strategy in trying to get through the area and Richard had to pull him out . After a gas stop in Ensenada and a relatively short border wait, we were back at our meeting place by 8:30 p.m.

All in all, it was a very long day and there was a lot of driving for a 4 hour climb. I was as tired as if I had hiked all day. If I ever do this peak again (somewhat unlikely), I am quite certain I will take Route B. Thanks to all the participants who were willing to participate in this marathon trip!

Further driving clarifications to supplement the DPS Guide:
Using the Guide's instruction through Ensenada... Bear right, following the main road Lazaro Cardenas Blvd., as it heads E then SE through an area of restaurants and nightclubs (the harbor is on your right) to its end in about 1.3 miles. (Note: the road does not end so watch your odometer and turn at the stop sign at 1.3 miles.) Turn right (E) here on Mexico Highway 3 (called Calzada Cortez) and drive a short distance...(Note: the short distance is 1.5 miles). Using the Guide's "map I/western approach", when you have passed Laguna Hanson and are looking for the turn-off/sign to Rancho San Luis, there is a sign "Kancho Alamar" that is 0.1 mile before the Rancho San Luis sign. Don't turn there by mistake. Other than these mere clarifications, the Guide's driving instructions and map were excellent.

Editor's note :
Eric Beck mentioned to me that Chato, the elderly resident at the Rancho, has died.

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