Bighorn Peak, Palo Verde Peak, Picacho Peak, Signal Peak

23-Nov-95 (Private trip)

By: Erik Siering


It was a quiet weekend for scheduled desert outings. So Bob Sumner, Asher Waxman, Ann Kramer and I headed out for our fourth annual Thanksgiving sociable peak climbing trek in and around Southern Arizona. Free of any list ambitions, we climbed Kofa Pk, and the unlisted Bighorn, "medium" Picacho, and Palo Verde Peaks.

The weather was warm this year. Made us wonder if the Sierra would have been more fitting for the holiday. Nonetheless, Thursday we scampered up the pleasant Palm Cyn route on Kofa. This had been a grudge route for us, as we'd been turned back last year by weather and a rope too short for the climbing pitch (the old DPS guide write-up is "off"). Asher adroitly led the crux move, after which we strolled to the top. We quaffed Belgian ale to celebrate. The summit was solitary but for Doug, who'd hiked up the other side. He was a NFS nature volunteer from Indiana, working in a nearby canyon. The DPS register had survived the couple of weeks since Greg Roach had placed it (the "Arizona asshole" is still removing them). We retraced our route down, rapping the pitch through the notch.

We skipped our afternoon climb of nearby Ten Ewe Pk, to repair a flat tire in Quartzsite. Ann's turkey dinner was served by the powerlines at the Bighorn Pk trailhead, as described by Mark Adrian (DPS Sage #231) 2wd dirt road. In the morning, as Ann slept in, the rest of us headed north to the peak, crossing the aqueduct footbridge and slithering under the barbed wire fence. Climbing to the right of the saddle, we gained the ridge adjoining the prominent south face gully. A ridiculous number of ducks kept popping up on our way, as we attained the expansive views on the cl2+ summit "mound." We descended into the wash and flats to find welcome shade on our return.. A waterfall in the verdant lower gully was passed on the east. Stats: Bighorn Pk (3480'), cl 2+, 7 miles, 2100' gain rt.

The Tucson home of Ann's sister, Cindy, provided our Thanksgiving one day removed, where we supped and hot tubbed. Forty miles north is Picacho State Park. Here, unmistakable "Medium" Picacho Pk would complete a trinity with the DPS Big and Little Picacho Pks (Picachi?). We'd learned of it in a write-up by Bob Michael (Sage #154). Picacho literally looms over the I-10 freeway between Tucson and Phoenix. We started at first light Saturday to beat the heat, and thereby had the climb to ourselves. Cindy and her family joined us. The route is trail up to a saddle beneath an enormous wall. It then drops and winds up to the summit in a circuitous, airy manner, cabled in places to protect the exposure. Yet, nothing exceeds easy steep cl3. Gloves are handy if the cables are used. Kind of like Arizona's Half Dome experience. Including the throngs of people that came up as we descended. For grins, Bob and I scrambled up the adjoining highpoints north of the summit. Heat dissuaded us from also scaling attractive Newman Pk, which is situated across the I-10. Stats: Picacho Pk (3382'), cl 3 cables, 4.4 miles, ,1000' gain rt.

We drove that evening back into CA to camp near Palo Verde Pk. This was west of Hwy 78 on the Milpitas Wash Rd, at its intersection with a north-running dirt track (Sage #219). The Sunday drive to the trailhead was sandy/rocky 4wd in places. [Earlier, we had approached the peak from the north, but found the same dirt road is barred at that end by a local refuse site.] The peak was a nice scramble with excellent views from on top, taking us less than a couple of hours in all. We used the loose chute SW of the summit both ways. Then it was homeward! Stats: Palo Verde Pk (1800'), cl 2, 2 miles, 1000' gain rt.


Archives to Similar Destinations

  • Peaks Climbing Archives at climber.org
    • AZ Picacho Peak 19-Feb-99 Bob Bynum

    DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section