Signal Peak, Castle Dome Peak, Picacho Peak
By: Gene Olsen
We drove out Wednesday night to a site on the Palm Canyon Road. Kofa started a little late with 19 people in attendance. Not one no-show. In reviewing plans prior to the trip, I had decided to break the trip into two groups. This proved to be the right way to go. The trip went well to the point where you climb out of the canyon. One person dropped out here. The rock pitch was done to the old piton. Still looks good. From here Ron Bartell went up the chute to the ledge with a second rope and set up a belay. I continued to bring up climbers on the face. When 9 people were up, we left for the summit and the second group started up. The first group reached the peak and after a short stay started down. We met the second group about 1/3 of the way up. The upper chute was roped (fixed line) and used by some. The rappel went fast. We set up another fixed rope down to the canyon.
We all were back to the cars by 3:00 and off for Castle Dome Roadhead. Breaking into two groups kept things moving and allowed us to make great time. Thursday night we camped near the Hull Mine. It's going strong with much new equipment and one large new digging. Our Thanksgiving dinner was set up and was tremendous! Edna Erspamer deserves a vote of thanks for getting the dinner organized. Paul and Ruth Bloland joined the trip here. Jay Suehiro's vichyssoise was superb as were the croissants. Munchies and liquids were in abundance. As a matter of note, we almost married one of our members off. At the last moment the young lady backed off. It rained for a few minutes during the night, just enough to create the usual panic movement of equipment.
The next morning we were moving at 7:30 towards the Castle Dome roadhead. Just as we left the trail head, it started to sprinkle. This lasted just long enough to get the rain gear on. Then it turned into a great day. Ted led a great route up to the base of the south side ledges, and from there it was the ledges up. 19 of us made the summit by 11:00. We spent a long time on the summit viewing the desert spectacular. All were back at the cars by 3:00. We loaded up the remains and headed for Picacho State Recreation area, stopping for a resupply on the way. When we arrived, my worst fears were realized. The C.G. was full. On an off chance we checked the Group C.G. (this sign appears on the left before you get to the main camping area). Lord be praised, it was empty! This is where all should check in in the future. No one even drove into the area except us. We had more turkey and munchies, a great camp fire and tried to marry our friend off again. Many guitars (3) and much music. No raunchy jokes.
We were up early so as to leave at 7:00. At this time. we discovered something that was misidentified as an archeological find (Pichacho Man). On detailed investigation this proved to be one pair of slightly over-charred turkey legs which had been left on a grill all night. Oh well.
The mine has changed hands from the previous Pichacho Land Development Co. and now has a sign stating "Armed Guard on Duty." Our route was into the second wash on the left, north of the mine road. You can follow this a few hundred yards and then exit up a road on your right, or walk the wash (Little Picacho Wash on map). This route avoids the ups and downs in the wash to the south and joins the older route on the west side. When we reached the saddle to the west, it was very windy. We went up to the notch (rocks are loose) and up the first little third class thing to the jump across. We got five across and six on the other side when a front came in. Bang! Within minutes the temperature dropped to 45°, the wind at 50-60, and it poured rain. We lost site of the towers to the north for approximately one hour. All were shielded by the ledges, luckily, and no one got wet. At the end of this time, it cleared and a decision was made to abort. No one disagreed. This turned out to be a good decision because it rained again before we got back to the cars.
Got back to Yuma at 3:00. All in all a great trip. Will do it again next year.
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