Trigo Mountains


By: Gordon MacLeod


The Trigo Mountains are located in the lush Sonoran desert of Arizona between the Kofa Range and the Colorado River and are appropriately visited during the Thanksgiving-New Years--President's Day time period. They are of volcanic origin, offering climbing opportunities similar to those in the Kofa/Castle Dome Mtns. and excellent camping in beautiful sandy washes with abundant firewood. In addition, this area, part of the Yuma Test Range, has only recently been opened to the public.

For logistic reasons, the group met first Thursday morning in Imperial County at the junction of Ewy.78 and the Milpitas Wash Road, south of the town of Palo Verde. After driving 1 mile west, we headed north on a power line road (high clearance vehicles recommended) for a few miles before parking for a "warm-up" climb of Palo Verde Peak (1795'), with lunch back at the cars. After returning to Bwy.78, we caravaned north and, following the "Cibola Refuge" signs. crossed the Colorado River on a bridge just south of Palo Verde Park and headed south on Cibola road to a point opposite the townsite of Cibola, where the appropriate road heads east into the Trigo Mountains. (The start of this road is obscure--see accompanying map.) This road appears to be maintained to passenger car quality by owners of an inactive mine at its end; just before reaching that point, we drove 1/4 mile up a gravel wash to a delightful, secluded campsite with plenty of firewood, by mid afternoon. Shortly thereafter, the predicted rain began. After some heavy showers, the rain tapered off, and in spite of intermittent drizzle, the traditional campfire was enjoyed.

Friday morning, Barbara Reber arrived; the appearance of her car testified to the mud covered roads that the rain had created! She remained in camp, while the original group ascended Needle Eye Peak (2537'), a 10 mile round trip climb with some interesting Class 3 just below the summit. A subsidiary summit containing the "needle eye" itself was also climbed (also interesting Class 3).

Intermittent clouds and sunshine were encountered but no rain, although showers were observed to the south. Return to camp was made by late afternoon; a delightful campfire was again enjoyed under a star-filled sky.

Saturday morning all 11 participants completed the 15 mile round trip climb of Mojave Peak (2771), high point of the Trigo Mountains. This required climbing over the main N/S ridge and dropping down about 500: on the other side before weaving in and out of an intricate set of washes to reach the base of Mojave Peak and complete the Class 2 climb of the summit. A cold wind and increasing clouds from yet another storm cut short the lunch break; rain began just as we started up to the pass and darkness overtook the group as they reached the bottom on the west side. After a bit of uncertainty, camp was reached before 6 PM. The group was resigned to a cold wet night and a cold supper. when suddenly stars appeared! Two "pyros" started the campfire luring others out of their tents and cars, appropriate beverages were served and a good (and drying) time was had by all. Sunday, in windy but clear weather, 6 completed the shorter climb of Peak 2600' to the north of the pass crossed on the way to Mojave; it was given the name "Bobbin." Return to camp was made by l:30 PM in plenty of time for the long drive home.

Participants were Gordon MacLeod, Barbara Lilley, Barbara and Roy Magnuson, Susan McDonaugh, Nancy Pearlman, Les Shelberg, Linda Medici, Barbara Reber, Alan Coles and Steve Crooks. The general consensus was that both Needle Eye and Mojave Peaks are worthy additions to the DPS List. Mojave Peak is the high point of a range (Trigo) new to the DPS, and as far as can be determined, this route, which requires some navigation skil1, is the only legal access; other possible approaches are from that portion of the Yuma Proving Grounds to which access is still restricted.* Needle Eye Peak itself is a good climb in a spectacularly scenic area, well worth a visit by DPS'ers. (Contact Gordon days at 213-535-5375 for further information.) Topo maps in the Trigos are Cibola (Calif.-Ariz.) and Trigo Peaks (Ariz.)

* (County and state maps published in Arizona show the only restricted area to be east of Mojave Peak; California maps do not make this distinction.)

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