Ascent to Sierra Gomas-below S ridge on 2018-11-16

Climber: Rob Woodall

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, November 16, 2018
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Sierra Gomas - below S ridge
    Elevation:7218 ft / 2200 m
    Remaining Elevation:65 ft / 19 m (1% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Seems best done from east side. Brushier but apparently less technical. See my 11 & 12 Nov reports/tracks. However from my Sunday recce the west side looked promising and is shorter and less brushy. Didn't work for me solo, but with a rope and taking one of the more direct spurs, it could be a nice expedition, likely low grade rock climbing on good limestone.

Viewing from the dirt road, there's a wide spur approx in line with the wind farm spur road (turbines under construction) with a line of exposed rock which looked a nice way up. I'd previously scoped the two spurs to its left, but view from road confirmed what I'd suspected from Google Earth: they look technical, to an extent. My chosen spur unfortunately is separated from the main ridge by an exposed arete then a deep notch, not visible from the road.

The west side is approached by a ranch road starting at N26.26193° W100.53213°, a short way north of the wind farm spur road. This can be driven a short way to a locked gate; it can then be hiked for 2km, past buildings to the Santa Martha Ranch gate (N26.27761° W100.50441°). Turning L here then R leads another 1km to the base of the two lefthand spurs I'd rejected. Instead turning R, I soon left the dirt road and followed cattle tracks and open ground towards my right hand spur, crossing two small canyons. The second involved some bushwhacking, and the subsequent climb up the N slope was quite spiny-brushy. Eventually reaching the crest of the spur (N26.28363° W100.47873°, 1320m - 3 hours from the car, quite slow) I ascended the rocky line, which is karstic limestone, quite sharp, OK scrambling/walking. The little tower at the top involves a few metres of slabby class 4 (N26.28371° W100.47526°), steep, good holds albeit sometimes small.

The spur levels off, I cross a short easy arete then a small ascent leads to another arete. This appears to connect easily to the main ridge, but I soon reach a notch (N26.28689° W100.47210°, 1755m), with a 3m descent which is probably only class 3 scrambling. The ascent beyond is a knife edge with a vertical section, at least class 4 and exposed on both sides. I bypass on left (more class 4) then in another 30m reach an extremely exposed knife edge (N26.28710° W100.47177°, 1774m), horizontal yet needing hands and feet, with no level surface to walk on. I need to shift a couple of loose blocks: the first goes R, a very long way down! Beyond this, my fears are confirmed - the arete ends in a drop of 10-20m to its col. I'm not ready to turn back yet, so undertake a descending class 4 bushwhack, the bushes sometimes helping, sometimes hindering, and often spiny! I'm relieved to get to non technical ground (N26.28833° W100.47194°, 1704m), but some way below the notch and with no obvious way up. I believe the route should be feasible from here, but with 6 hours gone and an unproven descent route, turning back is the only sensible option.

My choices are to reverse the class 4 bushwhack and the arete and the steep class 4 climb, or head down the slope I'm on - which looks OK, as far as I can see. A nice rubbly chute works well but then cliffs out. Bushwhacking north, is another drop. Bushwhacking south, another rubbly chute leads down further, leaving a 10m cliff which is bypassable, slabby class 4. A worrying hour ensues but the remaining drops are all fairly short and doable at class 4 or better. I eventually regain my outward GPS track and am back at the car in 9h50, mightily relieved.

After a brief food break I make the 5 hour drive south for Cerro El Potosi which I ascend next morning before flying home.

My descent route COULD be a viable way to the summit, but I'd recommend trying east side first.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4658 ft / 1419 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 4
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4658 ft / 1419 m
    Distance:9.3 mi / 15 km
    Start Trailhead:2560 ft / 780 m
    Time:5 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 50 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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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