Signal Peak, Castle Dome Peak, Picacho Peak


By: Ron Jones



Twenty one desert-lovers met for the first CMC outing at the Palm Canyon roadhead in the KOFA mountains. We climbed the Class 4 Palm Canyon route. No one used a rope on the 20-foot Class 3 pitch leading out of the canyon but all of us roped up the longer Class 4 pitch above. We were up in a leisurely 3 1/2 hours with Dave Welbourn and Bill Stevens earning emblems. I climbed the peak for the sixth time, we had several who had been on top 4 times, 3 times and many for a second time. Back at camp we celebrated the emblem earners and the leader's birthday.

The next morning we drove over to Castle Dome and got a 9 o'clock start on that peak. Nineteen people made a routine Class 3 ascent of the south face and descended the same route, arriving, back at our cars about 3:15. No rope was used on this climb.

We drove over to the Picacho Mine area where Lou Brecheen with 12 or 15 San Diego Sierra Club members on a WSA trip and also Randy Bernard (who worked Saturday & Sunday) met us as we arrived just after dark. No dinners were needed as all sorts of warm food, snacks and libations appeared. Sue Wyman and Leora Jones entertained us with guitar music and song, Keats Gray furnished party hats and noise makers and we celebrated the New Year in the time zones of New Orleans, Yuma and finally Winterhaven.

The next morning only one climber complained of a bad stomach from tainted food and stayed behind while 25 of us started up Picacho Pk. There is a new but poorly built ladder at the first Class 4 move just before the step-across. We didn't use it on the ascent (but did do a belayed descent on the way down). All were belayed across the step-across and up the same old ladder (originally placed by Ron Francisco 15-18 years ago). Randy led most climbers on the keyhole variation to the top. It has a 25-foot easy rappel with a 6-foot Class 5 and 19-foot easy but loose Class 3 return. Igor Mamedalin led the remaining climbers on the more difficult multi-pitch standard route. Tanya Mamedalin had never rappelled before so chose to stop at the last pitch and to come back another day. All others made the successful and fun climb except Suzanne Thomas who, although successful, swore she would never return.

It was nice to have Cathy Hanchett, Terry Flood, Bill Stevens, Richard Carey, Rheta Schoeneman and Rob Langsdorf all join us from San Diego. Thanks to all the participants who made this first CMC trip so successful. Special thanks to Bill Gray, Vic Henney, Tom Ferguson, Rick Beatty and Bob Hartunian for assisting, and special appreciation to Bill Tryon whose car broke down in Tucson, and whose rented car blew a tire en route and who did all the dirt road driving and return to Tucson on a mini-spare but who brought the etriers for Picacho.

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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