Forum Index > Trip Reports > Rojo Grande, Mohave, Old Smokey - Feb 3-4, 2019
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Gimpilator
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PostWed Feb 06, 2019 10:10 pm 
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Fletcher came with Jake and Dave.  Just like last time Fletcher came here, a freak winter storm developed right before his departure date and threatened to ruin the entire 3 day period.  Searching different parts of the desert, I found 2 or 3 days of sun in the Yuma area, which is claimed to be the sunniest place on earth.

I suggested to Fletcher and the guys, they should go for Picacho Peak.  It’s the most fun route I’ve ever done and probably my favorite peak of all time.

February 3

After 5 long hours in the car and a weird grocery stop in Quartzite, we came to Picacho State Park.  Jake did all the driving on this trip and he was kind enough to drop me off a little further down the road, so I could investigate some obscure peaklets solo.

Little Picacho - 1193’ (attempt)

The first one was Little Picacho.  The Picacho naming scheme is a bit confusing, because there are two popular Picacho Peaks in the desert southwest.  The CA one is near Yuma AZ, while the other, which is actually in AZ, is located 200 miles to the east.  To further complicate the naming scheme, a smaller peak right next to the Yuma Picacho in CA is unofficially known as Picacho Benchmark, but all the DPS folk call that one Little Picacho.  However the peak I planned to go for on this day, about 6 miles to the east is officially named Little Picacho.

Rojo Grande
Rojo Grande

I started hiking near Rojo Grande and followed Marcus Wash as it curved around to the east.  This was a Bob Burd route and I had his beta.  When describing Little Picacho, he said, “this was one tricky summit”.  Bob is a much better scrambler than I am and he went with a group.  When I came to the overhanging chockstone in the northeast gully, I didn’t like it one bit.  I tested a few of the class 3 and 4 sections of wall left of the chockstone.  Several handholds and footholds broke on me.  Nope.  The gully was steep enough that after only a few feet of scrambling up the left wall, the fall potential would be increased to 15 or 20 feet.

Little Picacho
Little Picacho
gully above
gully above

I explored all my options and then left the gully.  Bob says this is the only way up the peak, but I wanted to look into that for myself.  I found two other potential options.  The first was a steep class 4 slab below a huge chockstone which you could tunnel under.

The second and most promising was on the far side of the mountain.  A large gully opens on the west side.  I scrambled up until my GPS app showed me roughly 150 feet below the summit.  There I was blocked by more overhanging 5th class.  Bummer.  Depression set in immediately.  I had given it my best effort and found myself incompetent to get this one.  It was a tough reality to accept, but my best strategy to climb out of the bad mood was by climbing a couple more peaks, the sooner the better.

overhanging
overhanging

Peak 885

The entire Picacho State Park is loaded with colorful rock and winding washes with cliffs and craggy rock piles all over.  A few of the formations are prominent enough to be considered peaklets.  Half way back to the rendezvous spot, I stopped to scramble up one of these peaklets.  I went through a slot canyon and then up the north ridge.  No evidence of ascents since the original survey party.

Peak 885
Peak 885
Picacho
Picacho
Little Picacho and Castle Dome
Little Picacho and Castle Dome
Picacho
Picacho
Rojo Grande
Rojo Grande

Rojo Grande – 710’

It was late evening when I did an ascending traverse on the steep and loose southwest face.  I went to the saddle northeast of the summit and it was an easy walk from there.  The first peaklet had taken the edge off my failed attempt depression, but this one completely cleared it.  The view of the river was lovely and I could hear a pack of coyotes on the other side of the river.  I spent some time watching the light change as the sun neared the horizon.

Little Picacho
Little Picacho
Peck Benchmark
Peck Benchmark
Picacho
Picacho

2-4
Mohave Peak - 2768’

We tried to drive to the east approach for Needles Eye, but the road was too far gone, even for the rented F150.  We made a quick choice to do Mohave Peak instead.  On the map, the east side looked more challenging than the northwest approach I had originally envisioned, but I figured with this strong group, we would probably get it.

Mojave
Mojave
humming bird
humming bird

The road into the eastern canyongoes much further than shown on the map.  We walked a mile of it, but probably could have driven that much.  The Trigo Mountains are very picturesque and this was an enjoyable hike.  I warned the guys about the silver cholla, but there was an incident.  It’s always a little funny, except when it happens to you.

Oya! Cholla
Oya! Cholla

We went to a saddle southeast of the summit and then up a ramp from there.  This peak was neglected for good chunks of time, but has seen several ascents more recently.  Afterward, the guys wanted to do Castle Dome, but I suggested Signal which was closer and a slightly shorter route.

tickles
tickles
Needles Eye
Needles Eye
Bobbin
Bobbin
Mohave summit
Mohave summit

Old Smokey Mountain – 4373’

When I had been on the summit of Signal myself, I looked to the east and was astounded by the sharp towers.  The Kofa Range is unique.  Now was my chance to try to get one of those towers.  I wished the guys good-luck and told them about the Ten Ewe add-on option, before heading further up Kofa Queen Canyon.


I turned south into Summit Canyon and then southeast up a large draw.  The brush was thick and I did my best to avoid it, but it slowed me down.  At 3400 feet I came to a pass and traversed south around ridges covered in cactus and brush.  Old Smokey was visible at the head of the upper drainage, as well as a very impressive unnamed spire.

Old Smokey
Old Smokey
unnamed
unnamed

After slow progress, I came to the base of the peak.  It was steep and loose.  I traversed around to a gully, northeast of the summit.  This gully put me very high on the peak, but the summit ridge was blocked by crags and a head-wall.

summit
summit
notch above headwall
notch above headwall

I found a level platform which passed between towers.  Then I saw what I believed to be the summit.  A small alcove is hemmed in by a head-wall.  I scrambled up the head-wall to a gap, with terrifying exposure.  From the narrow gap, I scrambled up a knife-edge with heavy exposure, but the rock was solid and only class 3.  It could be my most scary solo scramble.  I was proud to sign the register.

came up this way, exposure doesn't show
came up this way, exposure doesn't show
Summit Peak and Signal
Summit Peak and Signal
Summit Peak
Summit Peak
Signal
Signal

Did I mention Squaw Peak?  Nearby Squaw Peak reminds me of the Ivory Tower from Neverending Story.  It's a sight I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  Certainly one of the most impressive spires in the entire country, and truly gorgeous.  I got back to the truck about an hour and half before the guys and it was fun to watch the light change on all the varied terrain.

Squaw
Squaw
Squaw
Squaw
Squaw  :wub:
Squaw  wub.gif
Unnamed
Unnamed
Cereus
Cereus

Thanks for a fun time guys!  Thanks for all the driving Jake.  Hope to get out with each of you again, either down here or up north.

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http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Fletcher
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PostWed Feb 06, 2019 10:41 pm 
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We all had such a good time down in the desert with you! Thanks so much for all the recommendations. Ill post my own report for all the peaks we climbed sometime tomorrow.
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John Morrow
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PostThu Feb 07, 2019 6:18 am 
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Gimpilator wrote:
came up this way, exposure doesn't show
came up this way, exposure doesn't show

Oh...it shows

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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”-Mary Oliver

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
― MLK Jr.
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neek
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PostThu Feb 07, 2019 9:36 am 
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Ticks?  At this time of year?  In that part of the country?  Nice looking terrain, as usual.  Good to see everyone down there enjoying the sunshine.  (Hey, we're getting some nice clear days here too.)  Don't worry so much about getting the summit!  Enjoy the process...
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Gimpilator
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PostMon Feb 11, 2019 10:51 pm 
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neek wrote:
Don't worry so much about getting the summit!  Enjoy the process...

Thanks for saying that.  Absolutely right.  If I'm surrounded by beauty and have a bad attitude, I'm doing it wrong.

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http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Rojo Grande, Mohave, Old Smokey - Feb 3-4, 2019
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