Dos Picachos

January 1, 2022


Quartzsite, AZ

Dos Picachoes is a small two-summit peak made of limestone. This peak firstly caught my attention while browsing the maps. The contour lines suggested a potentially challenging scramble if not a climb, and the name of this peak sounds a bit interesting. I casually mentioned Dos Picachos to Adam and a few days later we decided to give it a try. The weather had finally stabilized but the beginning of this prolonged high pressure system was supposed to be very windy. There was absolutely no “beta” about Dos Picachos on the internet asides that a few others had logged in their ascents on None of them had posted a detailed route description so we had to figure out everything on our own, which could lead to a failed attempt but usually turned out to be fun and rewarding.

In the New Year’s Eve we drove about half an hour east of Quartzsite and turned onto the dirt roads near Guadalupe Mountain. The dirt roads immediately became rough so we searched for a sheltered spot and set up camp. The morning of the New Year’s Day we woke up at sunrise and resumed the drive. Adam had studied the satellite images and decided to try out the road system on the north side of our objective. This road wasn’t even shown on Gaia map, so I made a track log about the driving portion in case we got lost on the way out. In the end after some careful maneuvering we drove to a spot within 1.5 km distance from our objective and we were happy about the progress. Part of the objective of this day was to “rest” so we wanted this hike to be as short as possible.

Dos Picachos and Elephant Back Mtn. from north. GPX DL

The plod towards the north slope of Dos Picachos involved traversing some undulating terrain as we were not following a wash or any sort like that. In fact, we had to ascend into and out of several washes and ridges to keep the most direct bearing. Adam led this whole section as he’s more experienced in the desert cross-country travel. The north slope became steep and loose in no time, but the slog wasn’t long. The cliff band that guarded the ridge turned out to be mostly class 2 with a few class 3 moves. This is very common in limestone formation, that things appear daunting from afar but usually turn out easier than expected.

Not far from where we parked. Dos Picachos ahead.
Adam led us into a cholla garden..
At the base of the north slopes of Dos Picachos
The terrain became considerably steeper near the ridge.
The crux rock band just below the ridge
Adam tackling the crux moves
Adam topping out on the ridge of Dos Picachos

We got hammered by the strong winds on the ridge. It’s difficult to gauge which of the two picachos was higher, so I decided to check out the west peak first, as it appeared easier. The ridge walk was mostly class 2 and enjoyable, but from this summit we could see the east peak being definitely higher. The traverse to the east peak involved some 3rd class scrambling with route-finding, but nothing really worth noting. We traversed and attacked the difficulties mostly on the south side of the ridge crest. There was no summit register so we left one of Adam’s homemade ones.

We opted to check out the west summit first. East summit behind
Adam nearing the summit of the lower west peak.
Elephant Back Mountain would be our secondary objective in this day
Unnamed peaks to the south with Signal Peak much farther behind on the horizon
There are some cool-looking mesas in this area
Descending the west summit
Adam now ascending the east summit which is considerably more complicated
Nearing the summit of the east peak. This one is definitely higher.
Summit Panorama from Dos Picachos. Click to view large size.
I even tried to traverse to that lower easternmost summit but it’s too difficult
Me on the summit of Dos Picachos

There’s only one way to get off this peak, that was to retrace our route down the east summit back to the east/west saddle and then off the north slopes. I thought about to just descend back to the vehicle and take a “rest day”, but the officially-named Elephant Back Mountain was right there a few kilometers to the NW without any difficult terrain in between, so we had to press on and bag it.

Lots and lots of chollas on the south side of the summit block.
We had to be very careful about loose rocks and the cactus…
Adam now descending that steep cliff band down to the north side of the ridge.