El Picacho del Diablo

Nov 1981

By: Maris Valkass


Reading the stories about Big Picacho in one of the last issues of the Sage brought back memories of my two attempts.

The first attempt was on Thanksgiving in 1981. Ed Lubin was going to lead the trip since he had been there before. Art Blauvelt, Donn Cook, and I were the followers. We made great plans of attack, including the construction of a ladder to get over the waterfall. We got to Crucero according to plan, then we had a problem in finding the road across the lake. Finally Ed pointed to one and we plunged in. In about half a mile my van was up to its axles in sand. We spent the rest of Thanksgiving digging out. Needless to say, we scrapped our attempt of Picacho.

We were not going to let the whole weekend be wasted, so we decided to climb Jucumba. None of us had been there, and we did not have a map. So we drove into the town of Jucumba and asked the locals where the peak was. One guy pointed at a little hill just outside the town and proclaimed it to be the one. We strapped our climbing gear on and after about fifteen minutes reached the summit. We could not document our climb since someone had stolen the register. After the disappointment we considered the possibility, however remote, that we may have climbed the wrong peak.

We were no quitters, and we did manage to climb Sombrero, and Indian Head.

My second attempt was a year later. This time Mario Gonzalez was going to be the guide since he had climbed it before. John McCully, Igor Mamedalin, Donn Cook, and myself made up the rest of the party. , When we got to Crucero, we asked Mario to guide the way across the lake. He finally confessed that he did not know the way either. The time he did it, he was sitting in the back of a truck, and could not see outside. Well, at least he speaks spanish! We finally overcame all obstacles and got our peak, but on our way back Mario slipped on a waterfall and fractured his ankle. We did not know it at that time and he walked with great pain fourteen miles back to the cars. We also encountered rainstorm and were soaked, but fortunately there was lot of dry firewood in the canyon and we were able to dry ourselves out by a nice campfire. Except for the broken ankle, it was a wonderful experience.

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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