El Picacho del Diablo: an un-trip report

Joined: February 12th, 2014, 9:35 am

September 9th, 2017, 1:09 am #1

So I normally wouldn't post this, but Uncle Rico posted HIS un-trip report earlier, and mine is just so much more impressive.

I want to climb El Picacho del Diablo in Baja. With all the driving, this needs a long weekend, and the long weekend we had just now seemed like it would work. The heat wave was just ending around here, and it seemed like El Picacho would be sufficiently far enough to escape the heat. Also I wasn't thinking straight.

So anyway. I drove up on Friday. The horrific traffic jam from San Clemente to San Diego was not very discouraging: I was going to Mexico! After all sorts of delays, it started to get dark a bit past Ensenada, and it also was starting to rain. A lot. It was dark when I turned inland, and I finally got to the park entrance at maybe 9PM. The gate into the park was closed, and the ranger said maybe they'll open it the next day if it clears up sufficiently. He also educated me about Hurricane Lidia: this storm was its remnants apparently. I spent the night in my car, listening to the rain and wind. Only once was I jolted by an earthquake.

The storm abated a bit by morning, but it was by no means done, and nobody had any indication of opening the gate (I was still 10 miles short of the trailhead and really far from the peak). So I just walked around the area for a bit. It's a pretty cool park, actually. Feels like the upper San Gabriels, or San Jacinto, maybe:



There's some sort of observatory shell





And the signs are made of hand-painted and hard-carved wood



They're also apparently reintroducing the Condors, and would prefer that nobody mess with them



I hung around until it was obvious I wouldn't have enough time to do any real hiking if the gate was open already, which it wasn't. So I went to Ensenada, and drowned my sorrows in tacos.

Still Mexico is cool, and I didn't have too many regrets. Until I spent 3 hours in the line to cross the border that is.

Not putting down the trip stats to avoid embarrassment.
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Sean
Cucamonga Man
Sean
Cucamonga Man
Joined: July 27th, 2011, 6:32 pm

September 9th, 2017, 4:25 pm #2

dima wrote:Only once was I jolted by an earthquake.
What, no tornadoes or muggings? I once travelled all the way to Schaumburg, Illinois just to experience an earthquake. Didn't even know I was in earthquake country.

Thanks for the non-TR.
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tekewin
Resident Trailcam Guy
tekewin
Resident Trailcam Guy
Joined: April 11th, 2013, 11:07 pm

September 9th, 2017, 10:08 pm #3

Dang! I was really looking forward to your report. I wonder if they post the gate status somewhere online. That's the end of my un-comment. 
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Ed
Joined: October 11th, 2014, 5:02 pm

September 10th, 2017, 7:53 pm #4

Sounds very casual for Big Picacho.  It is easy to become lost on that plateau.  And on the mountain itself.  And water can be a problem on that side.  Did you have a GPS and a topographical map?  I guess 1:50k maps are available now, Mexican topographical maps were considered a military secret in the 1970's when I climbed it.

Better luck next time!  It's a great peak.  Took me two tries.  First time we became lost on the plateau and timed out.  Had to melt snow for water, but did not have sufficient fuel.  Second time I took no chances and went on a trip from the western side led by John Robinson.
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Joined: February 12th, 2014, 9:35 am

September 11th, 2017, 5:13 am #5

Ed wrote: Sounds very casual for Big Picacho.  It is easy to become lost on that plateau.  And on the mountain itself.  And water can be a problem on that side.  Did you have a GPS and a topographical map?  I guess 1:50k maps are available now, Mexican topographical maps were considered a military secret in the 1970's when I climbed it.

Better luck next time!  It's a great peak.  Took me two tries.  First time we became lost on the plateau and timed out.  Had to melt snow for water, but did not have sufficient fuel.  Second time I took no chances and went on a trip from the western side led by John Robinson.
I guess the report did sound a bit cavalier, but I really was prepared. Had two GPS devices, topo maps (digital and paper) and previous hikers' tracks loaded into the GPS devices. It really is cheating. In the 1970s you actually had to do some navigating, while now you can just follow a pre-existing track using a magical device that tells you where you are. I'll try again in maybe a month.
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Ed
Joined: October 11th, 2014, 5:02 pm

September 11th, 2017, 3:53 pm #6

This is one trip where I would 'cheat' on navigation!  Have a safe and successful trip, looking forward to your trip report.

I should have said 'other side' or 'eastern side', by the way.  Losing my sense of direction there.  Very different approaches.
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tekewin
Resident Trailcam Guy
tekewin
Resident Trailcam Guy
Joined: April 11th, 2013, 11:07 pm

September 11th, 2017, 4:34 pm #7

I don't get understand how using a GPS is cheating. It is easier than navigating by map, but where do you draw the line on technology. A map and a compass are also technology. Try climbing without a map. Is it cheating by driving a car to the trailhead? In the 1800s, people had to ride a horse to the trailhead. Is it cheating using the latest wool/synthetic blends in your clothes, or waterproof boots in the snow? The same with oxygen on 8000m mountains. Some climbers use every known modern technology to improve their chances of reaching a summit, including hordes of human sherpas, then complain that using oxygen is not "pure". Take off those crampons, and throw away the ropes and three layers of gloves if you want pure.

Sorry, I don't get anti-technology rants because they seem arbitrary.
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Ed
Joined: October 11th, 2014, 5:02 pm

September 11th, 2017, 4:40 pm #8

I suspect dima was employing a little humor here.  He was well-prepared for this trip, and rightfully so.  I did not see any anti-technology rant.

A father and his two daughters were recently rescued, trying to do Big Picacho.  Evidently, the father had done it before.  No report on what navigational stuff they were carrying.  While the father was said to be an experienced hiker, the daughters were not.  Rather crazy, I think.  This is a peak for which you should be a bit more than a 'hiker'.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/new ... story.html
Last edited by Ed on September 11th, 2017, 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sean
Cucamonga Man
Sean
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Joined: July 27th, 2011, 6:32 pm

September 11th, 2017, 4:50 pm #9

I didn't get the impression that Dima was expressing an anti-technology attitude. Rather, knowing him quite well, I think he is pro-knowledge and self-reliance.

There are people who use GPS machines like they are calculators, and they don't really know how to navigate, like they don't really know how to do math. Take away their calculating machines and they are stumped. Which is a dangerous thing if your calculating machine stops working while you are in the middle of nowhere.

A good navigator should also not be completely reliant upon a map and compass, though these tools are more durable than a battery-powered GPS machine. One should practice memorizing terrain and landmarks, like people did before the map and compass.

Sent from my XT1064 using Tapatalk




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AW
Canyon Man
AW
Canyon Man
Joined: October 1st, 2007, 6:00 pm

September 11th, 2017, 6:57 pm #10

tekewin wrote: Sorry, I don't get anti-technology rants because they seem arbitrary.
I think my computer would say the same thing but thats the whole point of yelling at it!
GPS is 100% cheating though...the rules are the rules.
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Sean
Cucamonga Man
Sean
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Joined: July 27th, 2011, 6:32 pm

September 11th, 2017, 8:43 pm #11

tekewin wrote:Is it cheating by driving a car to the trailhead?
Depends on which set of rules you accept. Cheating can only be defined in relation to a particular set of rules or moral principles. Peakbagging isn't exactly a moral issue. So, if you go by the Sierra Club rules, then driving to a trailhead cannot be considered cheating, since they believe that "there is no clear definition of what is required to count the peak." Indeed, for them even summit blocks are optional. So, by rule, you could summit Baldy while sitting on your couch watching a YouTube video of someone else standing on Baldy. And that wouldn't be cheating, since the HPS has no rules to break.

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Joined: June 13th, 2011, 4:28 am

September 12th, 2017, 9:29 pm #12

I get using GPS in jungles, bad weather, or to pinpoint a benchmark otherwise there is minimal thought required. Use of a map and a compass requires reasoning skills and awareness of surroundings, For most of my hikes I already have much of what I plan to do in my head and then use a map to validate choices made. I also as a solo hiker am constantly making mental notes of tricky turns or counterintuitive directional changes for my way back on xcountry. For me personally that process is much of what makes a hike enjoyable.
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Uncle Rico
Can Throw A Football Over Them Mountains
Uncle Rico
Can Throw A Football Over Them Mountains
Joined: March 21st, 2008, 1:48 am

September 18th, 2017, 1:14 pm #13

Ha, ha! Nice un-report dima. Now I don't feel so bad. 

In all seriousness though, I was really looking forward to your report. Picacho is so intriguing, and something I'll probably never do. 
http://wildsouthland.blogspot.com
Instagram: @wildsouthland
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