Cerro Pinacate


By: Ron Jones



Thirty-five climbers filled with victorious climbs of Baboquivari, Ajo and Montezuma's Head (see accompanying story) but hungry for dinner met at Lukeville late Friday afternoon. The coffee shop there is an unlikely rendezvous for dinner (besides only seating 12 people) and so we asked a "local" for a restaurant recommendation in Sonoita and were told how great the "Case del Sol" was, east of town. Well it wasn't, although they were hard pressed to handle the 35 of us along with their Friday night regulars. Combination plate #1 struck down several of us the next day. A year ago a group of us found "The Excelsior", another restaurant in Sonoita not to be recommended. A tip to all who must obtain a tourist permit or have one validated at the border. Do not list "Pinacate" as your destination in Mexico (Rocky Point as better) as the local trench-coated official was emphatic to one of our group that Pinacate was off limits and required a special permit. It does NOT, as we later spoke with a photographer who met with the local ranger and none is required for this Parque Nacional.

Gene Olsen's map in SAGE 175 is correct. We found the track washed out at the Rocky Point with the ranch ruins, bear hard right across the sandy area past a large wooden cross until you come up on a firm low ridge. If you go west at the more heavily uses spur road shown above the ruins you will find it leads in 3 or 4 miles to a nicely cultivated new ranch. We drove the correct road past Gene's duck and all the way to the end at Palo Verde camp, a most delightful spot to set up camp. Do not attempt to follow the steep track west up over the head wall.

Gene's Sketch map of the hiking route is correct for the traditional route to the peak. There is an easier, shorter route if one stays south picking up an Indian or game trail at the south base of Carnegie Peak and then start up toward the second saddle shown on his map and then directly up the loose southeast slope of Pinacate. This was about a 2-1/2 hour hike for most the group. On our way back after leaving the SE corner of Carnegie Pk and traveling down a lava-covered broad wash I found the largest lava tube and cave I've seen in this area. A collapsed entrance 40 ft in diameter and 30 ft deep led to a cave nearly 300 ft long. Diane Rosentreter found one arm of the cave that looped back on itself. There were no signs of previous entry, not even I'itoi.

We spent Saturday night at Palo Verde camp and enjoyed a gargantuan potluck dinner, perhaps even larger then our Thanksgiving meal at Baboquivari. Afterwards, during the merriment around the campfire, someone happened to see the ice axe I just happened to bring along and the Desert Rat Test was called for. The karma was just right and with Dennis Baker standing on an ice chest and holding a lantern high overhead to simulate a twinkling star (it was overcast and sprinkling) we administered "The Test" to more than 20 successful Desert Rats. Even assistant Maris finally passed. Diane and several others twinkled their way to a second or even third completion. Ben Bernard became the youngest Rat. Patty Carpenter and Anna Miu-Ling Leong each climbed their 6th DPS peak and passed "The Test" to become full-fledged Section members.

The next morning Lisa Freunalich ran 9 miles out to the highway while Dennis and Diane race out on their mountain bikes. The rest of us drove north on a very good dirt road (much better than the standard approach on Gene's map) to Elegante Crater (map enclosed) and continued on to Mexican Highway 2, a total of 21 miles. The crater, 800 ft deep and 1-l/4 miles across, is a worthwhile and awesome sight. My thanks to Maris Valkass and Elden Hughes for assisting ably. -

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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