By: David Campbell
The day after Thanksgiving (11/26/93) Jack Archibald and I drove down past the Salton Sea and crossed into Baja California at Mexicali. The drive went according to plan until we reached the intersection of Mexican Highways 2 and 5 (which we wanted to follow south,. But Highway 5 was closed and no detour route markers were there. Following our best judgment we went east and then south and regained #5 a few miles further on. About 0.7 miles south of kilometer marker 23, we turned west, as indicated by the DPS Road & Peak guide and recent DPS trip reports. The gap in the fence which you have to open there is marked by some small flags and a sign "Southeast Venda Arena" (meaning, in English, sand for sale,. The first 1.6 miles of dirt road there are in good condition, then it gets pretty sandy. We were in my 4WD pickup, and occasionally used the high level of 4WD, though it may not have been essential. We drove by the "Antennae Hill" and camped just before reaching the wash west of it. My altimeter read 650 ft. there.
It was early afternoon and we took a short walk around, admiring the desert and some Phainopeplas (;birds) and hummingbirds. There were no other people there and no trash or litter, but we did find tracks in the sand of the wash. After dark we could see lights of Mexicali to the north.
In the morning we rose early and started the climb at 6:30 in perfect clear cool weather. The route description in edition 3 of the R & P Guide is quite good. After following the wash roughly SW to where it forked, we branched left a short ways, then climbed right onto the dividing ridge. This ridge led most of the way to the top. It is fairly steep and rocky and has a number of ups and downs. The "prominent gendarme" discussed in the guide is quite high, about 3300 ft. The scenic gully just past the notch beyond the gendarme has some truly interesting rock formations. It took a little looking to find the easiest exit right from this gully, but by 10:30 we were on Cerro Pescadores and enjoying the views: steam vents from the geothermal fields east of us, Picacho del Diablo to the south, and Laguna Salada to the west. Beyond the latter was an impressive escarpment leading up to the Sierra de Juarez, in which was Pico Risco, objective for my next trip.
We descended the same way, getting to the roadhead by 2:15. The drive back went smoothly and Highway 5 was open, But as we started to get onto Lopez Mateos Blvd,, we ran into another unmarked detour. After a long, circuitous route through dense traffic we approached the border on Lopez Mateos, only to find that the border crossing route had been changed to another street (Ave. Madero)and we had to drive a couple of miles away from the border to get into the line of cars heading for it. Benefiting from Bob Sumner"s experience (DESERT SAGE, ISSUE 224) we were careful not to cut in line, All told it took over 2 hours to get through Mexicali, but we still managed to get home by 10 p.m. with a day to rest up before going back to work on Monday.
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