Ascent of Volcán Las Tres Vírgenes on 2015-11-11

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:James Barlow -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Laura Newman
Duane Gilliland
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Volcán Las Tres Vírgenes
    Elevation:6401 ft / 1951 m

Ascent Trip Report

This peak gave us a pretty tough day hike, as expected from previous TRs, although now knowing the straightforward west ridge route, it should take around 7-10 hours with only moderate bushwhacking. Our ascent was 6h15, descent 4h.

After our Picacho del Diablo ascent, Tuesday is a travel day. After bivvying just south of San Quintin we stop for breakfast at Moma Espinoza at El Rosario - excellent food, good wifi too. El Marasal has good tacos for lunch.

The turnoff for the Tres Virgenes trailhead has moved 100m west since the Carey and Helman reports, presumably due to road improvements. Look for a wide entrance at N27.39094 W112.66544: the dirt road then runs obliquely to join its original course. The dirt road is mostly ok but there is one difficult section and it may not be feasible in a standard car; James's Dodge 1500 has no problem with no need to engage 4WD. We stop at N27.47862 W112.63291, 546m just short of where the road crosses an obvious wash due west of the peak. There are a couple of parking spots here. It's also the waypoint in Adam Helman's TR where they got back down to the road. We hike up the small wash from this point: it runs 300m before running out and by escaping L a further 200m is gained without too much difficulty. So this will be our route in the morning, hiking up the western route the Helman and Carey parties came down.

We're surprised to see a vehicle driving out. They are rangers and explain that it's not permissible to hike the peak unguided and a permit is required, obtainable at milepost 32, they say. James says this is No e problemo; they maybe guess we'll hike it anyway. They'll probably not turn out at first light to find out...

Sunset paints the mountain red, and a nearby Saguaro cactus provides a fine foreground for some sunset and afterglow photos. We while away a couple of balmy evening hours, still too full from breakfast and lunch to eat a proper dinner; we read and set our alarms for a first-light departure.

Wednesday we set off at 0625 (first light an hour later than at Diablo due to a timezone shift). We hike the wash for 300m until it's blocked by thick brush. What we should have done is escaped R, bypassed the brush and in 10m got back into the wash, then hiked it easily for a mile - as we discover later. What we actually do is escape L and bushwhack for a couple of hours through thorn and cactus before regaining the wash, with James doing great work with his machete.

At N27.47309 W112.61492 there's an escape R from the wash on scree. We hike this then negotiate steep rough brushy ground before a slope of nice stable boulders gives us access onto the west ridge to our left. This rocky ridge makes for a very nice ascent, mostly brush free, with superb views across a huge gully to the north east ridge, although a strong wind makes things a little tricky today.

The west ridge tops out at a minor summit N27.47040 W112.60155, 1617m P27. After a short descent, the last 350m ascent to the main summit is steep and brushy with a fair bit of loose ground. We see a small comms mast to the R but the summit is up to the left, with a rough cairn at the highest point (N27.47000 W112.59189, 1949m) and a cross and trig point close by. The trig/benchmark (an aluminium plate in a small concrete block) is unusual in stating X, Y and Z coordinates, UTM. The Z is stated as 1951.150m There's also the remains of an old comms mast, and a solar panel. The view is good, extending beyond the very nearby P600m Volcan Azufre to the coast. The 2009 Carey summit register is still there and quite well used, almost exclusively by Mexicans. So it's ascended regularly.

After an hour at the summit we head down the way we came up. The initial descent is awkward and unpleasant. Once over the P27m summit the ridge beyond is nice with stable rock and boulders, despite some buffeting from the wind. We stay on the ridge until it becomes brushy and then descend L. We could maybe have stayed on the ridge longer as we saw more rock on it lower down. Our descent route involves some mild brush and plenty of loose ground. Lower down we get on a decent boulder slope with reasonably stable footing. Further down we get onto an excellent scree slope, which with one hop right to rejoin our upward GPS track, drops us right back into the wash where we left it earlier.

After emptying the scree from our shoes we hike back along the wash. We had resigned ourselves to finishing in the dark, but to our delight, the wash is an easy hike, right back to the car, with just a small diversion around the thick brush 300m from the start. If only we had realised, this would have saved a lot of effort on the way up!

We're down a minute after sunset. No sign of any ranger activity. We start our drive south for the Sierra La Laguna High Point, stopping at Santa Rosalia en route for a meal. Then after a further three hours drive, we park beside a dirt road signposted Jesus Maria 15.

Tres Vírgenes photo album
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4610 ft / 1405 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.1 mi / 11.4 km
    Route:Wash and W ridge
    Trailhead:Wash W of peak  1791 ft / 545 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 
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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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