Picacho Peak, Jacumba Mountain


By: Bruce Knudtson


Fourteen of us met at the Picacho Mine Monument Saturday morning, under near perfect skies. We then drove about .5 mi north of the Monument to where a well defined side road leaves the main road (at elevation 490) and goes west up Little Picacho Wash for about .5 mi. This is passable to 2WD cars and saves some walking. We left the cars at 8:15am and took the regular route to the summit ridge. At the false summit block, we elected to take the more expedient "Keyhole Bypass" route rather than continue on with the regular route. The "Bypass" goes as follows: from the notch at the base of the 20' 4th class climb false summit, rappel 20' to the left (southeast) to a large ledge, which is then followed south through the "Keyhole" to the summit without further technical difficulties. To return by this route requires 20' of low 5th class belayed climbing. A large boulder in the notch provides a convenient anchor for the rappel and belay. One person lost his battle with the flu and turned back short of the peak but another joined US enroute so 14 made the summit. The return to the cars was uneventful and we were into chips, dip and liquid refreshment by 3:30pm.

Doing Jacumba an Sunday from the south involved us in some tricky road navigation. REFERENCES: 1975 7.5 min Jacumba and 1975 7.5 min In-Ko-Pah Gorge maps. DIRECTIONS: Take the In-Ko-Pah turnoff from I-8, go S on the frontage road then under the freeway (near BM 3098) to the road leading into Jacumba. Turn right (W) and at the point where this road veers SW away from the freeway ( .25 mi beyond BM 3201), drive straight ahead onto a dirt frontage road on the S side of I-8. After about .75 mi, an underpass is reached; turn right (N) here. Follow this road N past the Mica Gem Mine and parallel to some power lines to a saddle at 3600'. Continue on past a repeater station to a second (and last) station. Follow the road that goes NE then W around the right side of the station hill. This leads to a gradual descent W down the broad saddle S of Point 4006 and into the valley below. About .75 mi beyond the station, a T-junction is reached; bear left here and follow the road SW then NNW to its end. There are a number of side roads to avoid and one disconcerting wide swing to the W and back but as long as you head roughly NW you're on course. At road's end you are about 1 mi SSW of Jacumba. A carefully driven 2WD could make it but high clearance is a must. Ten of us reached the peak from this point in lhr 15min.

From Jacumba the tracks of the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railroad can just barely be seen in Carrizo Gorge to the west. The now abandoned tracks can be reached via an easy dayhike up Carrizo Canyon from Button Willow Campground and provide the opportunity to traverse a magnificent desert canyon. In addition, there are terrific examples of the trestle builder's art along the right-of-way deep in the Gorge. A trip to this old railroad would be a worthy addition to any desert weekend.

My thanks to Randy for his excellent assist on this Pro-E lead and to Gene Mauk, Evan Samuels, John Cheslick, Ken Diehl, Joe Goss, David Delkeskamp, Duke Blakesley, Stephanie Rea, Marcia Rosen, Paul Freiman, Jim Raiford, Debbie Main, and Abe Siemens for being excellent participants.

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