El Picacho del Diablo

May 1951

By: Bob Bear


It gives your Chairman great satisfaction to be able to announce the achievement of a long-standing ambition to climb EL PICACHO DEL DIABLO the middle of May. This rugged Mexican peak bowed for the second time this spring, this time to a three man outlaw party composed of Desert Peakers, Roy Gorin, John Delmonte and yours truly. When Louise Werner came back from the March trip of the San Diego Chapter glowing with enthusiasm over her experience, the urge to go back and conquer a peak that had conquered us on a previous occasion became irresistable for Roy and myself. So we set out in Roy's GMC suburban with high hopes and lots of salt tablets.

We availed ourselves of all conceivable means to insure reaching and climbing the peak. At Meling ranch we picked up a guide-packer and an extra mule to keep us on the straight and narrow and relieve our aching backs as far as the rim of Canyon Diablo. We did not disdain to take advantage of the 20 mile logging road which took us to the edge of the pine forest which was most of the way up to the plateau area. Once we dropped into Canyon Diablo carrying all our needs in our packs we shifted to a large proportion of dried foods to compensate for the clothing, sleeping bags and climbing equipment transferred from the mule's back to our backs.

Our route on the plateau was the circle route; we hiked around the northern portion via the meadows of La Corona, Los Vallecitos and Los Llanitos going to the rim, thence around the southern portion via La Grulla and Vallecito back to Oaks Pasture where we had left the Suburban. Our route assailing the peak also followed the rough pattern of the two most recent Club trips. We left the rim at Rocky Point, where the average Meling client is content to gaze in wonder at the rugged SW face of El Picacho Del Diablo lying only some 4 miles to the NE, and we dropped down "Gorin's Gulley" 3000' to the stream in the bottom of Canyon Diablo. Then we hiked down the canyon underneath the summit to a side canyon heading on the north ridge of the peak perhaps 500' lower and 1/4 mile distant. This side canyon is really a challenge for its high average angle of climb, its many dry waterfalls to be circumvented and its 4000' of altitude to be gained. To reach the summit is still a tricky job of route-finding and rock climbing once the north ridge is attained, involving circling the peak some 135 to climb it from the ESE.

A trip to El Picacho del Diablo is such a vivid experience it is hard to avoid excess verbiage in writing of it. Suffice it to say, all of us who have been in the San Pedro Martir Range, where the peak is located, heartily recommend a visit to that country to those less fortunate mortals who haven't yet been there. There is a stimulating novelty to being in a foreign country and to visiting a frontier ranch like the Melings. That vast virgin forest in the plateau where the hand of man is seldom seen is something one no longer finds in this country. As for the rugged peak which dominates the range, it is the most strenuous and difficult peak I have ever climbed. Someday I hope the DPS will schedule a trip to this country, probably in conjunction with the Rock Climbers. For those with lots of endurance and a knack for rough going, the peak is a reasonable objective. For other less strenuous individuals the circle through the highlands should be a fully satisfying experience.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
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