Pilot Knob (CA)

December 27, 2021


Yuma, CA

Pilot Knob is a small summit on the west side of the city of Yuma right next to the U.S./Mexico border. The south slopes are basically right next to the Trump Wall and “All American Canal”. The ascent is a no-brainer scramble from dirt roads off the interstate freeway that Adam and I did it basically to just fill in the day. Earlier in the morning we had climbed Little Picacho but we must come back into Yuma immediately after as Adam’s Subaru was running low on gas. We had a luxurious lunch in a local Mexican restaurant and then Adam suggested to scramble Pilot Knob. I was not very stoked about this objective but reluctantly agreed as there wasn’t really a better option. The drive to the north side of Pilot Knob was easier than expected with no border check point and the parking was also not freaky. We actually parked at a permanent long-term camping zone with lots of RVs around.

Pilot Knob via NW Ridge. GPX DL

The ascent turned out more interesting than I thought. This peak was easy enough that we did not do any research so we just picked whatever route that seemed to make the most sense. We more or less aimed straight towards the summit and that got us onto the NW Ridge. For aesthetic purpose we stayed on the ridge crest for as much as we could and that involved plenty of class 2 and some class 3 scrambling. At one point we noticed a weird dude walking on the east side of the ridge. Adam thought he must be a “coyote” given how close to the Mexican border we were. About three quarters up the ridge we crossed an old mining road and then scrambled up some easy terrain to the summit. There were two highpoint contenders so we walked around to check out both.

Adam plodding across the flat desert floor towards Pilot Knob Mesa
The typical scrambling on the lower NW Ridge
Looking across towards the old mind site
Adam scrambling with the vast desert floor behind
Higher up we merged onto some unmaintained trails
Summit Panorama from Pilot Knob Mesa. Click to view large size.
At center shot one can see the Trump Wall
Adam approaching the summit of Pilot Knob
The city of Yuma in Arizona to the east
Picacho Peak is that iconic tower that I climbed a day earlier
Me on the summit of Pilot Knob

On the descent we decided to take the simplest route down, that was to bail down into the old mine site taking advantage of the old roads. I expressed the concern of meeting that weird dude since he was wondering around this general area an hour ago, but we decided to just ignore him. It turned out that we did not see that dude on the descent, but as soon as we turned on the vehicle he appeared to have followed us for a short distance.

Looking down the route that we would soon descend into
Adam descending into the old mine
We simply just walked down those insanely steep roads.