Ascent of Volcán El Elegante on 2011-11-25

Climber: James Barlow

Others in Party:Jenn Blackie
Date:Friday, November 25, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Volcán El Elegante
    Elevation:1050 ft / 320 m

Ascent Trip Report

Friday we were up before the sun to get to the National Park for El Pinacate as early as possible. The DPS driving directions to the beginning of the dirt road were spot on. No problems at all. It is really hard to miss the entrance to the National Park. It is well signed and the only thing around for miles. We chatted with the Mexican National Park Ranger about the route to El Pinacate. He informed us that we could not drive to the peak and that it required a hike of a whopping 11 km from the end of the road! Apparently they don’t see a lot of hikers and cater to lazy vehicle-borne tourists…. Unfortunately the road is high clearance 4WD per the Ranger. We took that with a grain of salt of him being overly cautious about the 11 km hike (easy for an average Sierra Clubber). The place that you want to go to for the trailhead is Cono Rojo which branches off to the left after half a mile. The berm to get on this road was too high for the Scion to overcome, so we were stuck exploring the tourist parts of the park on the loop road. I have to say it is one of the best road tours in a park I have seen in a while. The signs are in English and Español and the stories about the formation of the craters are hilarious – much more imaginative than your average American Park sign. We hiked around both craters and up some hill near El Tecolote. There is also a camping area at El Tecolote. No toilets (not even pit toilets) and bring your own water. The park has undergone a lot of improvements since the guide was written and a lot of the dirt roads have been closed, however, the dirt road leading to El Pinacate is open to high clearance vehicles. There may be fewer junctions to navigate on the way up to Cono Rojo, but we couldn’t drive that way. There is camping at the trailhead near the reddish butte in the guide, named Cono Rojo – bring everything you need including water & shovel to dig your own toilet. The Mexican Rangers recommend camping at Cono Rojo the first night and then hiking on day 2 (early start) so that you can drive out the same day. Since we did not drive the road, we have no idea how long it would take, but the DPS Guide shows ~14 miles of driving. You could probably drive in, hike, and drive out same day if you walk fast. The park gate is open 8-5 daily. Entrance fees were $5 per person (well worth it) and they take US cash if you don’t have pesos. The full tourist loop road to Crater El Elegante, El Tecolote, and Cerro Colorado is passable to passenger vehicles. After exploring the tourist wonders of the National Park, we headed north, skunked, but armed with information for a future return to climb El Pinacate. We grabbed lunch in Sonoyta and headed back to the US to make our way to Baboquivari. The border crossing at Lukeville was the most hassle-free crossing I have ever encountered coming back from Mexico. We were the only car in line and we were through in under 60 seconds – beat that Tijuana!

Link to pictures
Summary Total Data
Ascent Statistics
    Route:Crater Rim Trail
    Start Trailhead:1050 ft / 320 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Pinacate Nat'l Park 11/11

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Volcán El Elegante2011-11-25 a0 ft / 0 m
2Cerro Colorado2011-11-25 b197 ft / 60 m
Total Trip Gain: 197 ft / 60 m

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