Tres Palomas, Blue Bottle Peak


By: Ron Jones


The Tres Amigos Conquer Tres Palomas

In 1986 Lou Brecheen, Bob Meador, Jane Rauch, Francois Walthert, Don Weiss and I, after climbing Big Picacho from the west, made an attempt on Tres Palomas. This mountain, really 3 triangular summits of lovely pink-white granite, forms that portion of the San Pedro Martir crest south of Big Picacho. They rise pristinely beautiful and are best viewed in early morning light from the Laguna Santa Clara or from Mexico highway 5 north of San Felipe. On this attempt we camped at an unnamed spring we called Onion Camp a mile or so south of Blue Bottle. We ran out of time because of the heavy brush and third class boulders we encountered. (For roadhead info see Lou's SAGE article of that year).

In 1987 Lou, Francois, Don and I followed a suggestion mentioned in John Robinson's book, Camping & Climbing in Baja. We drove on the LaCorona road south of Vallecitos Meadow, backpacked down through LaGrulla Meadow and camped at La Encantada Meadow about 3 miles west of Tres Palomas. There are no prettier meadows anywhere than these, with their bucolic herds of cattle and horses in the midst of miles of grassy stream watered bottoms. John had climbed Tres Palomas in the 1960's from La Encantada. In '87 we again encountered too much brush and third class rock and failed to find a route to our goal.

In March of 1988 Anna and Maris Valkass wanted to climb Big Picacho from the west with me. The earliest I had done this climb from near Vallecitos Meadow in the west was April of 1987 with Karen Leonard, Vi Grasso & Ron Hudson, and at that time we encountered rather heavy snow still remaining in the upper approaches to Gorin's Gully on the north side of Blue Bottle. The winter of 1987-88 had deposited an unusually heavy snow-cover in the San Pedro Martirs and so in our late March attempt of 1988 there was an uncomfortable amount of steep snow which broke through thigh deep so we chose to abort this attempt. (Lesson - Big Picacho is not easily accessible from Blue Bottle probably during January through March).

Norm Rohn had joined Maris, Anna & I and we then directed our efforts on yet another attempt on Tres Palomas from near Blue Bottle. We drove in south of Vallecitos Meadow again and made the easy 4 hour backpack to Picacho Spring (AKA Will's Camp) at 8500 ft. That afternoon we climbed Blue Bottle and made the unsuccessful scouting of Big Picacho mentioned before. The next day (3/27/88) we climbed Blue Bottle again, scouted a less brushy approach to Tres Palomas and relaxed around camp. Anna did some sketches of this sublime area. On Monday we followed an old cattle trail south from our camp, down a major drainage (staying away from the slopes and rocks at the base of the summit crest) toward the only small meadow which lies on the western slopes at the foot of Tres Palomas. We hiked near the south end of the center (highest) of the three peaks. At about 8200 ft Anna chose to wait and sketched the view which accompanies this article. We climbed through moderate to heavy brush with lots of third class bouldering toward a prominent notch just south of the summit area. Then we moved on third class rock to the summit itself. No rope is necessary on the climb. There is a register on top placed by the John Robinson party. I copied the names in the 8 or 10 parties which have climbed the peak since then, but have misplaced that record. I will list those names when I find them but I recall several climbs were made before 1976, then a 10 year hiatus until Jane Rauch, Jerry Schad & another San Diego climber were successful the week after Jane and I failed in 1986. Then another 2 years without a climb until Maris, Norm & I climbed it. I (we) strongly feel that this peak would be a most worthy peak for inclusion to the DPS list & should join the present 4 Mexican peaks on that list.

We returned to camp (maybe a 1200 ft gain across the intervening ridge) about 4 o'clock, tired but happy. The next day we made the easy 3 hour descent to our cars, then the long drive out on the Observatory road past the Meling Ranch to San Telmo and then north to a wonderful dinner at Ensenada's best seafood restaurant, Mariscos de la Bahia de Ensenada.

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