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Ascent of Cerro del Pinacate on 2018-02-18

Climber: BMS 914

Others in Party:Craig Barlow -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Joel Brewster
justine Byers
Bill Carpenter
Richard Hensley
Mark McCormick
Garrett McLean -- Trip Report or GPS Track
BLMhikergirl Pipps <8664>; Randall T
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, February 18, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Cerro del Pinacate
    Location:Mexico
    Elevation:3937 ft / 1199 m

Ascent Trip Report

After the long day on Baboquivari on Friday, I elected to take Saturday off and spend the time drying my soggy tent, sleeping bag, clothes, rope, and other gear out rather than hike up Kino Peak with most of the rest of the group. I was very much wanting to be able to have a good day on Cerro Pinacate (including a summit), as international travel and my job are a difficult mix.

So after the others returned from Kino, we packed up and made the drive to the border at Lukeville, AZ an into Sonora Mexico for the campsite at the base of Pinacate. We made the trip through the small border town of Sonoyta - and it looked like much of what I saw in small Mexican towns on my last trip. A half hour drive outside of town got us to the park entrance, which was closed, but the guy came out and opened the gate for us after some discussion (it was around 4:00 PM - go figure). We each paid US$8.00 in park fees and headed in. A fairly long and somewhat bumpy 4x4 road up to Cono Rojo could probably be navigated with careful driving in AWD/Intermediate clearance. Jodie was the only driver on her Mexican Insurance, and that meant she was doing all the driving in Mexico (or at least, I wasn't about to risk it). She seemed to have a really great time tearing up the road in her Wrangler, leaving Richard and Joel far behind (also in a Wrangler). We arrived in the "red cone" just as it was getting dark, the California Crew of Garrett, Mark, Bill, and Craig having already arrived and well into their post-Kino Peak beers.

Upon getting our tents pitched, we joined them for dinner, a beer, and some humorous chat before turning in. I awoke feeling pretty good, and we set out down the trail, with signs warning us not to leave the trail (spoiler: we left the trail). The Guys from California had left over an hour before us, as they needed to be somewhere. The lower portion of the route crosses some lava flows that don't look all that ancient. Per Wikipedia, Pinacate last erupted about 11000 years ago, but it looks much newer. The flows looked like something from Hawaii, but didn't take all that long to cross, and gave way to a use trail on packed cinders with lots of vegetation growing on the rolling hills. Some of the plants - Ocotillo in particular - was extremely thorny. I have encountered Ocotillo many times before and never really had a problem avoiding it, this trip it was a little bit of a nuisance. Skirting to the South of Carnegie (a subpeak), we made our way over to the main cone.

We ran into the California Crew at this point - they were descending back to camp having hit the summit already. We said our goodbyes and kept heading for the top. The last part was steep and the cinders were very loose, but I was feeling strong and just fell in a bit behind Josef, doing my best not to slip too much in the loose micro-scree. Jodie had covered the horrors of the last part in great detail (it even made XXXXXX complain, and he never complains). It was with some surprise that I found myself arriving at the top, having seriously overestimated it, with Josef congratulating me on reaching the top. Perhaps it was the subtleties of the route I took (compared to what she took last time), but I actually enjoyed the last section.

The view from the top was spectacular, with smaller cones dotting the landscape everywhere in the immediate vicinity, and the distant ocean in view. The rest of our party began arriving via some different variants, and a lengthy and pleasant summit interval ensued.

We took a more direct route down, and for the first time since probably mid-2012, I actually ran down the side of the peak. My knees were not hurting, and I was trying to not get too crazy, but I was feeling like there were no limits to how fast I could run. The change was just incredible, as I have been struggling to keep up going downhill on nearly every outing I have been on this year, and suddenly I felt fast again. I could have easily ran all the way back to camp, except for maybe the crossing of the lava flows. I kept it to a steady hike, and arrived at the camp in the Red Cone with Richard, feeling like I could do the whole hike again. The Cali guys were gone, and soon we were too, Jodie wanting to get back over the border as fast as possible for some reason.

Overall, this was a lot of fun, and I would happily repeat it again sometime, particularly if it involved spending the night in the semi-developed campsite doing BBQ and a few beers afterwards, then heading out the next day.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2816 ft / 857 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2816 ft / 857 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.6 mi / 12.2 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Just about perfect clear day
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2649 ft / 807 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2559 ft / 779 m; Extra: 90 ft / 27m
    Loss on way in:90 ft / 27 m
    Distance:3.9 mi / 6.3 km
    Route:Pinacate Trail to West Face
    Start Trailhead:Cono Rojo Campground  1378 ft / 420 m
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2726 ft / 830 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2559 ft / 779 m; Extra: 167 ft / 50m
    Gain on way out:167 ft / 50 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route:Southwest Slopes to Pinacate Trail
    End Trailhead:Cono Rojo Campground  1378 ft / 420 m
    Time:2 Hours 1 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by BMS 914
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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. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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