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Ascent of Sierra La Laguna High Point on 2015-11-13

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:James Barlow -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Duane Gilliland
Laura Newman
Date:Friday, November 13, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Sierra La Laguna High Point
    Location:Mexico
    Elevation:6824 ft / 2079 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is a very nice hike in lovely surroundings with a trail all the way to the summit. We camp for one night, although as our aggregate times are about 11 hours it would be doable as a day hike with an early start and late descent by head torch to avoid the heat of the day. Note that permits are required. It is expected to buy a 30 pesos Conam permit for the main reserve in advance, although possible to buy one along the trail as we did, along with the ranch permit which is obtained at the large meadow before the summit.

After yesterday's Tres Virgenes climb, Thursday morning we finish the drive south, getting breakfast at a roadside taco place in Ciudad Insurgentes, and an early lunch at Todos Santos.

As an amendment to previous reports, the road to the La Laguna western trailhead now starts at the Mex 19 Todos Santos bypass, at N23.42586 W110.20595. Fork L at 3.6 mi. Fork R at 6.0 mi. We have a nice view of a pair of (I think) Crested caracaras perched in a roadside tree. The road is pretty good, although sandy at one spot. Straight over at 8.7 mi. No other significant turns.

The trailhead N23.49715 W110.06631, 504m has a shelter and a locked gate where the road turns downhill. We organise packs and are about to start hiking when two vehicles arrive. They tell us we can drive 3km further in for 200 pesos! We drive the road, steep and rough at first. We park at the Restaurant La Rueda N23.50707 W110.04656, 486m, not quite 3km but in the early afternoon heat we consider it good value. Of course it would be better to start the hike early morning but our schedule didn't allow this.

We start hiking at 2.30pm, following the dirt road until it crosses a stream (a few stepping stones): the trail to Sierra La Laguna is immediately after it, signposted left at N23.51105 W110.04088. It's a lovely hike despite the heat, with many flowers and butterflies. At a major stream crossing N23.52852 W110.02678, 850m, we top up and purify water. The trail turns sharp left here and follows the stream uphill initially. The climb is fairly continuous to the boundary of the central part of the reserve (Zona Nucleo) at 1804m, N23.54561 W110.00730. It then undulates a little before reaching a high point 1874m N23.54837 W109.99737 then a short easy descent leads to the camping area at a clearing N23.54981 W109.99243, 1802m. James and I are there at 7pm having taken 4h30, hiking the last hour by head torch. This is easily done as the trail is very obvious and the surface good. Duane and Laura arrive an hour later.

Friday we start around first light, 0625. After crossing our water source stream and descending a little, we're soon at the ranger cabin. Just a single ranger there, who says something on Spanish about passes. We look blank and he signals us to speak to someone further on. In a couple of minutes is another cabin and we're greeted in English: this is my ranch and you need to pay 100 pesos each; also do you have your Conam passes for the Reserve? We don't have either so pay him 100 + 30 each in return for two colourful wrist bands. The latter payment is presumably the 1 dollar charge Adam Helman refers to in his 2004 report; the ranch payment is evidently newer. All straightforward, although a party of 7 Mexicans are still locked in argument over the ranch payment as we go on our way.

We cross the main meadow on a good trail. The trail to the peak leaves at a quite obscure R fork N23.54899 W109.97731 but once identified is easy to follow to the woodland edge then climbs up through lovely pine and oakwood with drifts of yellow and purple flowers. The path reaches a saddle and the slightly less clear trail to the main peak goes L at N23.53615 W109.95760 and leads all the way to the summit with no bushwhacking.

The highest point is a rock outcrop N23.53910 W109.95433, 2082m, W side of a small building. The summit register is quickly found by Laura; however there are no entries since the original visit by Mark Adrian, Richard Carey and Edward Earl in 2009, although the summit is apparently visited quite frequently. We also climb the old lookout tower, some 40ft high giving a fine view out over the forest canopy.

The northwest summit looks similar in elevation so we visit it on the way down. Retracing our steps to the main trail we turn left on it for 50m then open ground on the right leads via a short bushwhack to a 3m YDS 3 boulder scramble N23.53508 W109.95783, 2078m. Duane's GPS puts this point a couple of feet lower than the SE summit; mine makes it 5m lower with expected vertical accuracy +/- 8m so either could be the ultra summit, pending an accurate survey, and it seems advisable to visit both.

We return to the main trail and follow it back to the campsite in 1h40, arriving at about 1130 and after a short break heading back to the trailhead. It's pretty hot on the descent. We make a relaxed descent arriving at the main stream in 1h40 and taking a good break there, before descending to the trailhead in a further 1h05.

We're down about 3pm. The "restaurant" is closed but there are a lot of hikers around: evidently some kind of event at La Laguna this weekend with large numbers of people hiking up, some seemingly not well prepared for a substantial elevation gain on a hot afternoon, although I guess they are generally better acclimated to the hot conditions than are we four gringos.

We're told the gate is open so we drive the steep sandy road back out - definitely 4WD. There are police and ambulance on standby at the gate so clearly no ordinary Friday.

We return to the main highway, drive south a short way then find access to the beach. James shows me some boogie boarding although the conditions are a little challenging for a novice and while James rides a few more waves, we mostly just relax and enjoy the sunset over the Pacific.

Then a nice Mexican meal and a beer. Finally we drive a couple of miles back up towards La Laguna trailhead to camp by the old tower N23.43012 W110.17552. We do some organising, as we go our different ways tomorrow from Cabo. Normally this would be a nice quiet camping spot, but with the weekend event, vehicles are clattering along the dirt road until quite late. Online I found an organisation protesting against proposed mining in the area although could see no specific event for this weekend.

Saturday we head into Cabo for a shower and breakfast, I fly back to the UK early pm, James and Laura drive back to San Diego while Duane is joined by Pattie for a weeks holiday.

The three Baja ultras are doable in a one week trip by a reasonably fast party, although for a slightly more relaxed approach I'd recommend one more day than we had, with three days for Picacho del Diablo, and a single day each for Tres Virgenes and La Laguna HP.

La Laguna photo album
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6969 ft / 2124 m
    Total Elevation Loss:6969 ft / 2123 m
    Round-Trip Distance:19.9 mi / 32 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 1
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Bivouac
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:6214 ft / 1894 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5230 ft / 1594 m; Extra: 984 ft / 299m
    Loss on way in:984 ft / 299 m
    Distance:9.9 mi / 16 km
    Start Trailhead:Restaurant La Rueda  1594 ft / 485 m
    Time:6 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5985 ft / 1824 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 5230 ft / 1594 m; Extra: 755 ft / 230m
    Gain on way out:755 ft / 230 m
    Distance:9.9 mi / 16 km
    End Trailhead:Restaurant La Rueda  1594 ft / 485 m
    Time:5 Hours 
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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