Pico Risco


By: Gordon Macleod


Risco Pk(5150') Baja California

The 16 cars of the caravan with 48 Desert Peakers and guests successfully negotiated the Sand Trap, which lies a half mile from the Tijuana-Mexicali highway along the Laguna Salada Expressway, without losing a stroke. On the return trip, however, the hordes of Gringolandiers and their South-of-the-Border hosts, converging upon the TRAP Sunday evening, rediscovered some lost principles of sand mechanics including for example, the important axiom that the manpower equivalent of the conveyance's weight -properly applied, of course-can usually produce a satisfactory rectilinear motion. This is possible, only if the sand does not completely engulf the vehicle, in which abandonment may become necessary. Some litter-conscious Sierra Club-types object to this practice however.

It was clear from the prevailing bathing suit attire that the topless swim suit has not penetrated as far south as th Guadalupe Canyon Hot Springs Resort, except possibly for the male of the species. Although most of the caravaners seen in bathing suits near the vicinity of the pool spent some time in pleasantly warm water, those not so attired generally avoided swimming -with only a very few exceptions. Old-time visitors to the hot springs will be happy to hear that the palm trees at the resort are beginning to recover from the fire of the other year. Litter in the upper campground is still a blight and a shame.

Ruth Karimi and Arky Erb's recent marriage was appropriately celebrated around the campfire -Bingham style- that evening. Their happiness was toasted with best wishes from all.

The search for an Asst Ldr, necessitated by the temporary incapacity of Neko Colevins, wallowing in the luxury of Los Angels, led to the voluntary appointment of this writer, by himself. The leadership problem thereby created was solved by the simple device of getting the group started in the morning and then falling to the rear. Leaderless, the group followed Arky Erb the 3900 feet to the third class summit of Risco Peak(5150', as per my trusty Thommen Everest Model Altimeter). The route took us along the north side of the mountain and then to the west, where a prominent chute was climbed to the summit.

Incidentally, that no-leader situation ought to solicit a couple of tarty notes to the Chapter Exec. Comm! The same problem we met with last spring on our SPS trip to Cartago Peak occurred again, but in slightly different form. Apparently the problem isn't confined to the Sierra Nevadas. By actual, confirmed count 26 climbers started, 6 dropped out, more or less, as scheduled about 2 miles from camp, then 2 more dropped out about a third of the way up, and paradoxically 19 persons signed the summit register. As was suggested, in my Cartago trip witeup 5%(1 in 20) accuracy is not only acceptable in many engineering applications, but is regarded as pretty good in some situations. Consequently, we need not get too excited -in spite of provocative statements to the contrary-when we get a solution accurate to 5%, especially when the solution is on the conservative side as in this case. Now, this was not the only example of engineering analysis performed on the summit. Arky had his nifty Abney Level Gage, while I did my superior(it was at least twice as heavy) Bruntons Patent Pocket Transit (Model F2000). The problem we addressed ourselves to was a classic one recognized by mountaineers the world over-"Which peak is higher? This one we are on or that blankey-blank (i.e. 4th class) pinnacle over there?". While the other climbers are relaxing and appearing nonchalant and unconcerned over the whole affair (not fully appreciating the full significance, of this undertaking I dare say), Arky and I took a number of careful, unbiased, and nearly sober readings with each instrument of the other summit We are happy to be able to report that the other peak was on the average 50 minutes of arc (i.e. 5/6 of a degree) lower (i.e., sometimes it was higher, but most of the time it was lower), which means that our peak -the true summit- was h= d tan d 200/(50/60)(pi /180)= 3 ft higher. Moreover, the new register's bona fide Sierra Club register from San Francisco sent down especially for the occasion by Bob Greenawalt-says so, and let no man put asunder!

Everyone (all 19, I trust) retired from the peak in good order, the first one leaving, arriving first and the last to leave (me) arriving last, with all others falling in between. In the absence of any nasty notes to the contrary, let me assert that everyone, with hardly any exceptions, got home safely, in a timely manner and just a little bit better for making the effort-if not physically then mentally.

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