Sierra La Laguna High Point

  • Sierra La Laguna High Point
  • 2085 m
  • Primary factor 1905 m
  • Mexico
  • Location: North 25.13599, West 103.23038 (GPS at the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 1
  • Climbed November 21. 2018.


How to get there:
This peak is located far south on the Baja California penisula. Drive south from La Paz on Hwy. 1, then continue south towards Todos Santos on Hwy. 15. Drive the bypass road east of Todos Santos and locate the turn-off (left) onto a dirt road is at N23.42586 W110.20595. Follow this dirt road (quite nice) and ignore smaller side roads until you arrive on top of a somewhat steeper downhill with a gate near the top. If this gate is unlocked, then continue down the hill, check that your car will be capable of driving back up what may be quite loose sand/gravel. Continue about 3 kilometer where you will observe a building on your immediate left (the "restaurant"), park directly ahead. This location is N23.50694, W110.04656, elevation about 490 meter. It seems that local people ask for a 200 pesos payment for driving from the gate to the parking, pretty consistently across several years.
Route description:
First, continue along a jeep road, running close to the river. The trail forks directly left and uphill very near this river, there are signs and the fork is pretty obvious. The trail immediately climbs across local hills, making its way uphill, the highest point on the horizon will eventually be reached. Before then, there are a few smaller drainages that must be crossed, that is, the trail will loose some elevation. The trail continues steady and mostly uphill to a local col near 1400 meter at location N23.54585, W110.02114. From here, turning more right, the uphill continues to location N23.54550, W110.00732, elevation slightly above 1800 meter. From here, a short stretch along the top, passing a highest point near 1870 meter before descending to an area suitable for camping near location N23.55173, W109.99192 with an elevation near 1800 meter.
After crossing a final section with trees, the trail now descends more and enters open grass land - "the ranch". There are more designated campgrounds and people collecting money from hikers. The fee (250 pesos per person!) for crossing the land is actually rather expensive by Mexican standards, perhaps they do differentiate between Mexicans and foreigners?
Continue across the open fields heading for the hills at the other side. There are smaller trails and some minor creeks that must be crossed. The hill will start a bit beyond location N23.54606, W109.97269, elevation abvout 1740 meter, one should be able to pick up a clear trail heading uphill from near this location. Climb the hill following this trail, as the terrain becomes more level with smaller local hills, one may consider visiting a competing summit point at location N23.53504, W109.95788, this is a short bushwack up to the right from the trail. A summit rock defines the highest point, but it is pretty certain that this point is 5-10 meter lower than the recognized summit. The final section of trail to the summit is less distinct, traverse some terrain in order to find a clear hill jup front. This hill has a lookout tower (closed) and some other traces from old construction.
Adam and I had taken the ferry from Topolobampo to La Paz. The scheduled arrival time was 0700, thus we had planned to get a reasonably early start and complete this hike in the late afternoon or early evening. What we had not expected was a pretty massive buraucracy related to driving our car ashore. Several delays and two different checkpoints, we were really not leaving the ferry area before 1000. The drive took longer as well and we did not arrive at the trailhead before 1300. Our plan needed a revision, but how? I had taken a bad fall and injured my knee while running (at night) in the town of Alamos, only two days earlier. How things would work was uncertain. Adam strongly preferred a single car-summit-car hike. I argued that my knee would definitely prefer to split this hike into two shorter days spending a night on the route. Adam accepted my preference, but with only one backpack capable of holding any cargo, 2 sleeping bags as well as the tent were squeezed into my pack.
I finally got started at 1330, Adam should follow about 5 minutes behind. First thing that happened, a big bull blocking the trail ahead. He gave me a nasty look, then added a deep voice warning. I looked back and decided to use my experience with bears in Malaysia, talk back in their own language. I tried my best to immitate the bull and sent a deep voice greeting back. This worked, the bull stepped out of my way.
I later learned that Adam ran into the same problem, he tried to talk to the bull in polite English, this did not work at all.
It was a warm afternoon, but not really hot. My knee did not complain much and I seemed to keep up with Adam what regards our general progress up the hill. We had planned to hike to the campground. Without too much prior research this turned out to be quite a bit longer, also more elevation gain than anticipated. We finally arrived at 1720, shortly before it got dark. We pitched the tent and slept without much delay.
With most work behind us, the next day was nice and easy. We started at 0700 and arrived on the first (lower) summit in 1:20. Arriving at the official summit by 0845, we decided that a 30 minute rest was well deserved. On the return hike, Adam showed me some cactus fruit growing in the transition area betwwen the hill and the grass land. Very delicious indeed. Back at camp by 1030, then about 30 minutes to pack up aand prepare for hiking out. The hike out was also very nice and never hot, we were back at the car by 1350.