Sombrero Peak, Jacumba Mountain


By: Fran Smith


Fran and Steve Smith

Two days of climbing in smog-free air with temperatures suggesting spring, and two peaks to climb offering healthful exercise, easy pace, local scenic spots, and distant viewing. These are the ingredients of a perfect weekend, and we had them on this weekend.

Fourteen participants signed in at Bow Willow Campground and we were on our way. The leader did not repeat his error of a year ago when he led the car caravan into a three minute round trip to the Bow Willow dump area. Instead, the group drove 3-1/2 miles up the stream bed to the roadhead. Continuing on foot for another 1-1/2 miles in the stream bed, numerous large rocks are encountered. An alternate route is to contour on the north side higher up, hut this is also rough to move over. At a rather large area of palm trees, the route makes a right turn and upward rather abruptly, but finally becomes an easy rock hopping climb on up the draw. This widens and you sight an isolated group of about a dozen palms some distance up ahead. Continuing right past these palms and onward, Sombrero Peak is obvious, and we were soon on too signing the register. Two bottles of champagne were divided among the twelve that made the summit. The occasion was Carleton Shay having attained his fifteenth desert peak - and EMBLEM status. But all good things come to an end, so twelve champagned climbers and two empty bottles started downward. Meeting the three people that had stooped their climb just above the palms, the entire group returned to the cars with no difficulties other than tired bodies. Leaving Bow Willow, we caravaned southeast towards Ocotillo where the leader had to hunt (after dark by this time) for the turnoff to Sunday's roadhead. Several people found Saturday's climb enough exercise for the weekend. Supposedly, two cars drove into El Centro for dinner, after which they either did not find the roadhead, or else ended up not going into town to eat. After leading the cars to the roadhead, the leaders plus Bill Schuler returned to El Centro for dinner, but did return for Sunday's climb of Jacumba from the east. Seven climbers, including a newcomer, Margaret Lewis (an ex-DPSer), were soon at the Mortero Palms. This is a really scenic spot with at least eighty-five magnificent palm trees with a rocky periphery framing them. Several cameras took advantage of the situation as their owners made good use of then. After climbing out of the palm tree oasis, and hiking cross country two miles to the base of the Jacumba Ranges the leader chose to fol1ow a steep rocky ravine which led straight towards the summit of Jacumba. The shortest route to the summit is from the southwest, but this eastern approach makes a nicer one day climb and the Mortero Palms are worth the extra time. All seven starters signed the register. Return trip was routine, and by three o'clock all cars had joined the Sunday traffic enroute home. This included one extra hour of tine as the leaders helped Don McLean get his camper dug out of a sandy parking spot onto solid ground.

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