Ascent of Picachos el Fraile on 2018-11-15

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Petter Bjørstad
Adam Walker -- Trip Report or GPS Track
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, November 15, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Picachos el Fraile
    Elevation:7874 ft / 2399 m

Ascent Trip Report

4h15 up, 8h round trip, superb peak, as good as it looks, with quite a bit of scrambling, exposed in places. Difficult scrambling at one point (not very exposed but a fall could send you a fair way) - consider taking a rope. Good trail all the way, except a little sketchy in the lower early section.

From SW, turn off main highway at inferred, parking at end of dogleg road passing several properties before stopping at a gate, good parking 9N25.84236° W100.64402°, 783m). Thru gate, head left for 50m then pick up a trail, sketchy and brushy at times, with occasional marker tape. Enters a canyon then climbs out R at the end, zigzagging steeply up brushy slopes, awkward slabs at one point, passing a cave (N25.86072° W100.63393°, 1660m, looks like a mine adit but no signs of past activity) then soon reaching a small saddle with an impressive view down across Monterrey to shapely spiky peaks beyond. Trail then heads for main ridge, climbing steeply R at the foot of a cliff, to gain the ridge (N25.86422° W100.62978°, 1920m). A few small snow patches from Monday night's fall, nothing troublesome. The ridge is followed R, brushy trail alternating with scrambling on rugged limestone, sometimes with a big vertical drop to L. Monday's peak Tia Chena dominates to our L. At one point we have a 3m downclimb of a split chimney (N25.86438° W100.62594°, 2030m) which it's possible to thrutch down (good hand holds but little for the feet) but the half-rope finds a use. There's only modest exposure, but technically it's about British 4c, YDS 5.7.

After the scrambly section, a stiff climb gives us a view of the final summit climb, now 500m away, initially daunting. A slabby slope above a big overhang to the R, then an exposed 2m downclimb to L (N25.86342° W100.61081°, 2330m, holds are small but good, perhaps just YDS4) gives access to a ledge system, with one exposed move but generally an exposed walk up L on a steep ledge 2m or more wide, at foot of a cliff and above another cliff. Then a short trail leads R to the summit, with an unusual metal trig pillar (N25.86381° W100.60975°, 2403m), a memorial cross, and a superb view. A series of spires immediately SE of the summit is especially eye catching. After 30 mins summit sunshine we head down. Getting back up the 3m pitch makes for an interesting challenge, testing our bouldering skills.

Pretty hot on the final descent. At the trailhead Adam breaks out the salsa and tortilla chips. The old local who had greeted us on our arrival welcomes us back enthusiastically, obviously pleased when people come to climb his peak, perhaps more so as we're foreign (he only speaks Spanish, of which we have very little). Down mid pm, leisurely couple of sunny hours catching up on trip reports after a hectic few days.

We'd planned this for 2 days earlier but overnight snow and strong cold winds dissuaded us - would have been difficult, unpleasant and possibly dangerous - and such a great peak deserves better. Instead I'd headed west for Centinela while Petter and Adam went south for Onofre and Potosi. Happily our hastily rearranged schedules reconverged for this peak, which was better even than expected. Tomorrow they head for Centinela and the Baja peninsula while I try my luck with the little known Sierra Gomas.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5190 ft / 1581 m
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5190 ft / 1581 m
    Distance:7.7 mi / 12.4 km
    Start Trailhead:2684 ft / 818 m
    Time:4 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 15 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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