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Fletcher
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PostThu Feb 07, 2019 12:00 pm 
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Dave, Jake and I had a big ski trip planned for rogers pass this week. As our trip neared, it looked like it was going to be a little bit cold for our liking so we started looking into alternatives. Id been wanting to get down to the desert to see Adam and bag some peaks in the sun all winter. I gave him a call to make sure he was free. Jake and Dave liked the idea so we booked some flights. The morning before heading to the airport, we were checking the forecast and it looked like rain in the Vegas area as well as pretty much anywhere within 100 miles. Of course it was going to rain! 5 hours to the south in the Sonoran Desert near Yuma though.... it looked gorgeous so we began hatching a plan.

We didnt arrive to Adams place until really late Saturday night and promptly passed out. After 3.5 hours of sleep, we were on the road south toward Yuma.

Picacho Peak and Little Picacho Peak


For our first day in the desert, Adam suggested we do Picacho Peak because the route is super cool. At 1,920' Picacho is the lowest peak on the Sierra Club's Desert Peaks Section List (DPS) and also regarded as one of the toughest. We were all stoked to be trying the "Mox Peak of the DPS". After dropping Adam off nearby, we drove to the base of Picacho.
Picacho from the drive in
Picacho from the drive in
Picacho's north face
Picacho's north face

We were able to drive to basically the base of the peak on the north side. It was a really quick hike up a scenic wash to the entrance to the large central approach gully.
desert flora
desert flora
dudes heading up the gully
dudes heading up the gully

We made quick work of the gully and were impressed by the view from the notch. From here, the route gets really cool all the way to the summit.
view from notch
view from notch
truck from the notch
truck from the notch

I forgot to take many pictures of the route but will have a video attached to this TR soon. From the notch, you follow an intricate system of roofed ledges that zigzag up to the summit ridge. To surmount 2 vertical steps along this ledge system there are 2 ladders, one sketchier than the other. There is also a gap along one of the ledges that must be jumped or scrambled across. A fall into the gap would be fatal. This section isn't horribly long and we were soon on the summit ridge.
summit ridge
summit ridge
Dave just before the route crux and summit
Dave just before the route crux and summit

Along the summit ridge, there is a sort of bulge that you need to go over to access the summit. You can't go around it. The get up onto the bulge is a very exposed "class 4" step. I thought it was more like 5.2 than class 4. We all soloed it with considerable pucker effect. We rappelled down the other side of the bulge, and left our rope in place to get back up it later.
route crux
route crux

Once over the bulge, its a short walk to the summit and awesome desert views.
Adam over there
Adam over there
Adam and Matt were here
Adam and Matt were here
Sonoran views
Sonoran views
Sonoran views
Sonoran views
Sonoran views
Sonoran views
the other Little Picacho and Castle Dome
the other Little Picacho and Castle Dome
summitshot
summitshot

After a half hour summit break, we began our descent. This side of the bulge is overhanging and could not be climbed up without a rope. Adam lent us a couple ascenders which allowed us to get up the rope easily. I had never used ascenders before, fun stuff! Once up the rope, we were pulling a sling we had girth hitched to a bolt to back up our rappel pop out of the rock!
shit
sh##

One more rappel down the other side of the bulge on sketchy bolts, then we scrambled down to the col and hiked back to the truck. Awesome first peak of the trip!
Dave checkout out a window
Dave checkout out a window
desert spires
desert spires
Picacho cliffs
Picacho cliffs

We had some daylight left so we decided to climb Little Picacho, or Picacho Benchmark, just to the north of Picacho Peak. There are several Picachos and Little Picachos in the desert, see Gimpilators recent TR to read more about it. To get this particular Little Picacho, we ascended nice easy slopes to a large gully that gains access to the upper slopes north of the summit. I left my boots in the car for this one and just had my Altras, big mistake i paid for with numerous falls on loose terrain.
heading up for another peak
heading up for another peak
in the gully
in the gully

The crux on little Picacho is a 50 ft section of super exposed class 3+. Luckily the rock is solid through here. We got to the summit for sunset and it was getting cold!
Dave on the crux
Dave on the crux
view north
view north
Jake on crux
Jake on crux
dudes gaining summit
dudes gaining summit
big P
big P
summitshot
summitshot
Dave
Dave

I had service up there and listened to a few snippets from the final quarter of the Super Bowl. Being from Seattle, I didnt really want anyone to win, but was glad that the Rams were seemingly being neutered by the Pats D all night. It got dark during our descent and we had a little trouble finding the truck by headlamp.
downclimbing the crux
downclimbing the crux
gully descent
gully descent

Authentic Mexican food in Yuma that night polished off our first day in the desert.

Mohave Peak

The following morning, we joined Adam for Mohave Peak as a consolation for not being able to drive close enough to Needles Eye. See his report for details. Highlights of this hike for me were the delightful morning lighting in the desert, getting attacked by a Cholla, and the giant Saguaro Cactus.
Sonoran sunrise
Sonoran sunrise
Mohave Peak
Mohave Peak
awesome scenery
awesome scenery
ouch
ouch
cholla everywhere
cholla everywhere
summitshot
summitshot
Needles Eye and Bobbin
Needles Eye and Bobbin
Picacho
Picacho
Dave with a big one
Dave with a big one

After Mohave, we had a lot of day left, and Adam suggested we climb Signal Peak, a prominent DPS nearby. He could also try a peak from the same wash.

Signal Peak and Ten Ewe Mountain

Signal
Signal
heading out for our second hike of the day
heading out for our second hike of the day

Signal was definitely the most scenic peak of the trip. We hiked down a wash a short ways before heading up a climbers trail up Indian Canyon. What a place!
whoa
whoa
Ten Ewe Mountain
Ten Ewe Mountain
climbers on Ten Ewe
climbers on Ten Ewe

We made good time to the summit and really enjoyed the views. The Kofa Range is something else.
wow
wow
damn
damn

We still had some daylight left and the route to Signal passes right by the route to Ten Ewe Mountain so we added that on. The late afternoon light from the summit of Ten Ewe was mesmerizing.
the gully to Ten Ewe
the gully to Ten Ewe
summit
summit
summitshot
summitshot
Squaw Peak and Old Smokey
Squaw Peak and Old Smokey
Picacho in the distance
Picacho in the distance
Ten Ewe
Ten Ewe
descent
descent

We got back to the truck right before needing headlamps, another awesome day of peak bagging in the desert.

Adam had to be back in Vegas the next morning, so we drove all the way back that night. The next morning, the weather didnt look great but we decided to go get one more peak. We settled on Spirit Mountain, another DPS NW of Laughlin. We ended up getting seriously off route on this peak, but we made everything go and had a fun time in the process. Spirit in a complex mountain.
Spirit, further away than it looks
Spirit, further away than it looks
scrambling
scrambling
more scrambling
more scrambling
an airy step
an airy step
terrain we navigated through
terrain we navigated through
nice
nice
snowing
snowing
cold on the summit
cold on the summit
Dave on the summit
Dave on the summit
gross weather
gross weather
weather improved when we got back down
weather improved when we got back down

I really enjoyed this visit to the desert and I can't wait to go back! Thanks for everything Adam.
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Gimpilator
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Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 1309 | TRs
Location: Edmonds, WA
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PostThu Feb 07, 2019 12:22 pm 
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So much fun to hang out with you guys.  Let's do it again.  Love that shot of the baby bighorn sheep.  smile.gif

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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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Jake Robinson
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PostSat Feb 09, 2019 11:01 am 
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Glad you guys found some sun down there! Picacho looks awesome.
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MangyMarmot
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Joined: 06 Apr 2012
Posts: 240 | TRs

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PostMon Feb 11, 2019 10:03 pm 
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Awesome trip guys. Here are a few of my photos.

Picacho:

Lizard
Lizard
The jump
The jump
Little Picacho
Little Picacho
Ledge
Ledge
Summit Ridge
Summit Ridge
On Rapel
On Rapel
This bolt is portable.
This bolt is portable.
Across the gap
Across the gap
Down the ladder
Down the ladder

Little Picacho:

Little Picacho
Little Picacho
Looking for the route
Looking for the route
Colorado River
Colorado River
Sunset
Sunset

Mohave:

Mohave
Mohave
Cholla. Don't mess with it.
Cholla. Don't mess with it.
Tread carefully though the cholla garden.
Tread carefully though the cholla garden.
Summit
Summit
View South. Picacho in the distance.
View South. Picacho in the distance.
Cactus
Cactus
Saguaro
Saguaro
Huge Saguaro
Huge Saguaro

Signal and Ten Ewe:

Cave
Cave
Aloe
Aloe
Ten Ewe
Ten Ewe
Kofa range from Signal summit
Kofa range from Signal summit
View North
View North
Unknown peak
Unknown peak
Spires
Spires
Reaching the summit of Ten Ewe
Reaching the summit of Ten Ewe
Kofa range from Ten Ewe
Kofa range from Ten Ewe
One of the ten ewes.
One of the ten ewes.

Spirit:

Barrel Cactus
Barrel Cactus
Rocks ahead
Rocks ahead
More cacti
More cacti
Scrambly spot
Scrambly spot
Cool spires
Cool spires
On the way to Spirit
On the way to Spirit
Summit ridge
Summit ridge
Heading back down
Heading back down
Heading back
Heading back
Spirit from the trailhead
Spirit from the trailhead
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6412 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
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Mid Fork Rocks
PostMon Feb 11, 2019 11:57 pm 
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MangyMarmot wrote:
Heading back down
Heading back down

Like a playground for hikers!

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Mid Fork Rocks flickr
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tmatlack
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PostTue Feb 12, 2019 12:41 am 
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Great photos.

I hiked up Picahco Peak trail in the early 90's and was passed by Bill Walton, basketball player, jogging up.  Also found very recent, potential suicide note on top near register.  Told ranger, whom we knew, when we got back down.

Tom
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Sonoran Desert Peakbagging ~ 2/3-2/5/19
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