Ascent of Pinta Benchmark on 2011-02-23

Climber: Dennis Poulin

Date:Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Pinta Benchmark
    Elevation:2950 ft / 899 m

Ascent Trip Report

I hiked Sierra Pinta with Ken Russell. Sierra Pinta is a long drive and a long hike. A free pass is required to enter the area from the Marine Corps. We approached Sierra Pinta from I-8 and a dirt road that intersects I-8 just east of mile post 48 from the east bound lanes. If you are coming from the east, you probably have to go west to exit 42, turn around and come back east to mile post 48. After the hike if you are heading west, you will have to go east to exit 54, turn around and then head west. At the mile post 48 turn-off, there is a gate through the barb wire fence. This may or may not be open, but it is never locked. Zero your odometer and sit back for a long drive to the trailhead. 4WD and high clearance are required. Go directly south away from I-8, at 1.0 mile go straight through a 4 way intersection, at 2.2 mile pass the Barry Goldwater Range sign, at 8.5 miles pass the first emergency help station, at 16.8 miles we were stopped by a border patrol agent and questioned, at 18.3 miles pass the second emergency help station and a large cargo container, at 23.2 miles pass into the Cabeza Prieta NWR where 4WD is required and a sign indicating the area is closed Mar 15- Jul 15, the road is very wash boarded except where it is very sandy, at 32.0 miles reach the third emergency help station, pull off the main road and park in the area of the help station. This is the trailhead.

There is a secondary road leaving the help station area behind a sign saying that unauthorized vehicles are not allowed. Walk this road. Stay on this main road and ignore all forks and cross roads. This is a long road walk to the guzzler in the Heart Tank canyon. The road finally ends near a small portable weather station in the canyon almost 8 miles from the emergency help station. The road walk is easy, mostly a little sandy and gains very little elevation. We took a long break at the end of the road.

There is no trail for the rest of the hike, but there are sheep tracks to follow that can make the hike easier. We hiked up the canyon for a couple hundred yards and then turned ESE towards the summit up a drainage. The hiking is over boulders, around thorny stuff, and generally just looking for the easiest path. We took a route on the right above a dry water fall and then at the first opportunity when we saw a nontechnical route up to the north ridge, we took that instead of continuing in the main drainage. Climbing up to the ridge was easier than continuing up the rocky drainage. At the ridge line, we turned right and started traversing towards the summit. For some reason we zeroed in on a spot well past the high point thinking that it was the high point, and it wasn’t until we had passed the high point that we realized we just had to climb up about 40 ft on an easy slope behind us to finish the climb.

Great views in all directions. We opted to take the main drainage on our descent, but I don’t think this saved us any time or effort. There were some dry waterfalls that had to be bypassed or down climbed. This was a long day and we hiked the road back to the trucks in the dark. We took 13 hours to complete this hike. We did feel safe in the area because we had a personal security force in the border patrol that kept checking on us. Thank you, border patrol.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2100 ft / 640 m
    Round-Trip Distance:18.3 mi / 29.5 km
    Route:West Side Heart Tank
    Trailhead:850 ft / 259 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Dennis Poulin
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