El Picacho del Diablo


By: John McCully


via Canon Diablo route

This was Mary Lou's first experience on Class 3 rock. I forgot to inquire. First time either of us has bivouacked.

Things began simply enough. Using Maris Valkass's description in Mar-Apr 1982 SAGE (163) got to the roadhead Sunday night about 10 p.m. Maris's mileage's quite similar to 1983 AAA Baja map. Permanent cable now over entrance waterfall. Made Campo Noche by Tuesday night.

Celebrated summit day by sleeping in. Started for peak at 8 a.m. Followed scores of red ribbons to 9,300 feet when realized headed for South summit. Forgot to use our carefully waterproofed maps and descriptions from John Robinson's Camping and Climbing in Baja. Backtracked to Wall Street. By now bagging peak and spending night at Campo Noche were mutually exclusive. I waffled. Mary Lou wanted to go for it. Reached top at 4:30 and dropped down 400 feet to sheltered spot. In case of injury I had brought along bivvy sack and a down sleeping bag (North Face Blue Kazoo) that weighs 2.5 pounds. Collected enough firewood to warm a house for several days and both squeezed into bivvy sack, using sleeping bag as a blanket. Fire proved overkill as temperature only dropped to low 40's. Sore hips from no mattress but otherwise quite comfortable.

Neither of us wanted to cross 30 foot high shelves just above McLean wash late Thursday so took off clothes and made like Spiderman on steeply sloping rock just above water line. Better wet than dead. Nobody fell in. Nice camping spot below McLean wash and out by 3 p.m. on Friday.

Had heard about extensive theft to cars at road head over Easter week so hid everything of value in garbage bags a quarter of a mile away and left car open with case of beer in plain sight. Nothing touched except stashed garbage bags all nibbled by cows. Left beer in driveway of rancho.

Red ribbons led all the way to San Felipe. Now that she's tried it Mary Lou likes Class 3.

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