Ascent of Sue Peaks on 2016-05-15

Climber: James Barlow

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, May 15, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Sue Peaks
    Elevation:5854 ft / 1784 m

Ascent Trip Report

As the second most prominent peak in Big Bend National Park, and a much longer hike, I opted for Sue Peaks over Rosillo Pk or any of the other nearby stealth P2k peaks – Santiago, etc. I camped the night before at Painted Hills and was up before sunrise to make my way to the Sue Peaks trailhead. Ken Jones and Dennis Poulin have excellent GPS tracks for this peak. I used the Dennis track to assist in my navigation, though the route is pretty evident.

I was able to get my rental car (low-slung Chevy something tiny) to the best starting point with only a few scrapes below. It definitely does not have the excellent clearance that the mighty Toyota Yaris has! I struck out east across the desert thankful that the sky was overcast and the mountains were blocking the rising sun. I arrived at the burned section and immediately increased my pace as the walking became easier. The ridge ascent is magnificent! Not too steep, no brush, no loose rocks, no sand. It is probably the best ridge ascent I have had in quite a while! The brush is back again over about 5,000 ft or so. No problem though, just some swerving to avoid yucca here and there. Nothing too challenging. I bagged the northern (lower) peak first. It has a directional marker to the higher peak. Around this time, the sun began emerging through the clouds. Not too shabby – I had probably done 90% of my gain in the shade of the mountain or cloud cover!

The summit has a large cairn and a register. The register goes back to the Andy Martin 2004 ascent. 4 of the 6 names in it are known to me (and any other person claiming to be a peakbagger)! The list of legends was rounded out along with Andy by Dennis Poulin in 2012 and Ken Jones and Bob Packard in 2015. There was another couple here in 2005 and just the guy in 2010 – Guy and Cathy Dahms. Not familiar with them. I added my name to the list of greats, enjoyed a nice lunch, took plenty of pictures and kicked back to take it all in. After half an hour or so, it was getting pretty hot, so I headed down. The descent was quite pleasant with a little breeze until I hit the desert floor. The return to the car from the bottom of the ridge was really hot. Oh well…

Upon return to the car, I pulled out my rental tent to dry from the previous night’s rain while I dined on another great herring snack. It was dry in under 10 minutes in that desert sun/heat/slight breeze. I then loaded up the rental Chevy whatever and headed for the visitors center to pick up some national park passport books for Sage and Sawyer. Thankfully there were 2 very friendly interp rangers working today, making up for their colleague’s less-than-pleasant interactions from the day before. They were thoroughly impressed with my Sue Peaks ascent – as they should be… I also earned a patch for hiking up Emory Peak: an all-ages patch that can be earned like a junior ranger patch in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service. Very cool! So, go hike Emory Pk this year and earn the patch! I took the western route out of the park past Study Butte, the Christmas Mountains, and into Alpine. This was a very pretty drive. A shame that more of this land is not public land – would make for excellent hiking! Overall, Big Bend was awesome – I would like to return for a few more peaks there and near Alpine. After a mediocre dinner in Fort Stockton, I made the dull drive back to San Antonio. Speed limit 80 – woo hoo!! One more reason why Texas is not as bad as I thought!

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3362 ft / 1024 m
    Extra Gain:320 ft / 97 m
    Route:Desert to N Ridge
    Trailhead:3132 ft / 954 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
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

This page has been served 819 times since 2005-01-15.

Copyright © 1987-2022 by All Rights Reserved. Questions/Comments/Corrections? See the Contact Page Terms of Service