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Ascent of Cerro el Centinela on 2018-11-14

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cerro el Centinela
    Location:Mexico
    Elevation:10226 ft / 3116 m

Ascent Trip Report

8h10 round trip, 4h30 up, 3h15 down, trail all the way. From WSW, Flor de Jimulco. The trail was a great find - the Helman/Packard/Martin trip a decade ago took a much longer route involving bushwhacking, 2 nights out and 18 hours total hiking time.

From Monterrey, good dual carriageway to Torreon, several road tolls. Bypassed Torreon on SW side via Nazareno, which has an unpaved section and a railroad crossing recently relocated - confusing my navigation apps, but a nice route. At Flor de Jimulco, a rather obscure dirt road on N (L) side of highway (N25.10341° W103.33043°) passes L of some buildings then heads fairly directly for the trailhead. I keep straight (R fork) at an oblique cross roads (N25.11177° W103.31162°); the road becomes increasingly rubbly and I turn and park at N25.12065° W103.29684°, 1410m, 400m short of the trailhead. Note that Adam and Petter found a better route to the trailhead a few days later - see Adam Walker's TR and GPS track. Arriving mid pm I recce the route almost as far as the main wash. Next morning I start at 0455, 2 hours before first light, prepared for a long day hike, but hoping a shorter route is feasible.

From my trailhead I hike the old road a little further then fork L along a gravelly wash. The trail leads R off this at N25.12429° W103.29470° (note the trail also continues L here to soon reach a sign (N25.12411° W103.29523°, 1440m) - an apparent alternative trailhead although the road to it also seems pretty rubbly).

The well defined trail heads E, zigzagging up to cross a shoulder (N25.13014° W103.27610°, 2080m) then gently descending 110m via a small grassy camp site in scrub (N25.12697° W103.27099°, 1970m) to reach a gravelly canyon, which is followed easily uphill (L) for 2km to a canyon fork (obvious on the map but less so on the ground, due to scrubby trees lining the canyon). A trail on Wikiloc showed a route from here via a reentrant to the summit. Not seeing a trail, I bushwhacked uphill (brush not too dense and only 2km to summit) and to my delight, found a trail - not in the reentrant but on the spur. This trail I later discover, actually starts a short way further NE along the wash, at a small camp site (N25.13696° W103.25132° 2190m) on SE (R) side of wash, opposite a rough cairn. The trail is a little obscure initially but after 100m becomes pretty clear (head for N25.13699° W103.25100°), with occasional coloured tape markers and the odd cairn. It leads to the summit.

Early morning the route was in shade all the way up, temperature quite chilly from yesterday's cold spell. Summit has a cross in a cairn, a small building once belonging to the toppled comms mast but now serving as a rough shelter. 8m to the east on a small outcrop is a trig plaque (dated 1956, same as Tia Chena) while a boulder 20m further E is half a metre higher than the base of the cairn and thus the highpoint of the peak.

Views good, although lacking the drama of the Monterrey peaks. I head down after 20 mins, chilly in the morning sun but soon warming as I descend. Following the trail down to the point where I'd discovered it, I spend a few minutes before I locate it zigzagging R (N then W) down into the canyon, where I retrace my outward route, arriving back at trailhead early pm.

After food I drive back east, initially planning Potosi tomorrow, but discovering Adam and Petter having bagged Onofre and Potosi, are planning El Fraile tomorrow, I meet them in Garcia for dinner and we do Fraile together the next day. Potosi will fit better Sat morning before my flight home.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6006 ft / 1830 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:6006 ft / 1830 m
    Distance:12.4 mi / 20 km
    Start Trailhead:4220 ft / 1286 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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