Saturday, March 2, 2013

Summiting Picacho Peak, CA

Today I set out the the meetup group for the other big peak near Yuma. After not making it to the top of Castle Dome, I felt I needed to make it to the top of this one. Six of us set out, but only two made it, the group leader and me.

We got an early start and made the drive down Picacho road and turned off the Wash along the BLM trail.

At the point where you can no longer drive, we started the hike by continued by walking up the same wash. After you pass by Picacho, a trail heads up to the left. The trail continues to a scree slope up to a saddle.

The Guardian

View from the Saddle
At the saddle we took a slight turn to the right and began the scramble along the first ledges. We arrived at the first ladder, about 6 feet tall.

At the top of the ladder is the infamous crack which divided our group. It is only about 2 feet wide but it is very exposed and there is no good location to step off from. The spot where you jump from is slightly higher than the landing. When you lower yourself to get a better angle to jump from, you give up all footing except for one little pocket about an inch deep that you can place one heel in. This means all your upward and most of your forward momentum needs to be generated from that one poorly placed foot.  It took me a minute to build up the confidence to take the leap. The first time I made my way to the edge I needed to back away and collect myself. The video below shows me making the leap.
 The Leap and Landing
Not ready to leap

 After the leap it is easy scrambling to the second ladder. You snake back and forth long a series of ledges and the turns are marked by red arrows. The second ladder was taller. Once at the top, we borrowed it to help go from the false summit to the true summit.

 A boulder divides the summits, and using the ladder to get on top of it was the most exposed part of the hike. I did not get a picture of the previous ladder placement on the other side of the boulder, which was the truly exposed part. The ladder was on a slope that had a small divot that held one leg. The ladder was also only about 3 feet in from the ledge. The only redeeming part was there were some good hand holds, so you could commit a lot of your weight to the rock as your feet moved up the ladder. The ladder placement in the below photos looks a little precarious, but it was solid.
 Exposure? You should see the other side.

After we reached the true summit we signed the log and got some photos. The log was in a pipe that was cemented into the rock. There was some additional stuff cashed in the rocks that are directly behind me in the below photo.

Colorado River as seen from the peak