Puerto Blanco Peak 2306 • Puerto Blanco Mountains
• Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
• Pima County


Everyone standing around before the hike. Peak 2306 is in the background
 

On the trail to the peak
 

Hiking up the slopes, Brian Rundle is close behind me
 

Approaching the ridge. Scott Peavy, with Brian a little higher up
 

Now a little higher, with Scott P., and Brian barely visible above the small cliff
 

Looking down the ridge, people congregating. Andy Bates is right behind
 

The momentous occasion: Doug Kasian tags the top with his boot
 

Everyone starting to gather
 

North view, Pinkley Peak
 

Proof that I was here, not drinking at a bar somewhere
 

Bob Packard starts down the west ridge
 

South view, Sonoyta Mountains
 

Looking back up at a few people still on the summit
 

Back at the cars, shooting the breeze
 

The Kasian's doggie came along too!
 

Enjoying celebratory cake and fizzy apple juice
 

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Date: January 16, 2016 • Elevation: 2,306 feet • Prominence: 306 feet • Distance: 3 miles • Time: 2 hours • Gain: 440 feet • Conditions: Sunny and pleasant • Teammates: Doug Kasian, Scott Peavy, Matthias Stender, Andy and Sarah Martin, Andy Bates, Brian Rundle, Bob Moore, Richard Joseph, John Vitz, Bill Sheets, Jody Ross, Bob Packard, Mark Adrian

Doug Kasian was down to just one remaining peak to climb in all of Pima County. Using the minimum prominence rule of 300 feet, he and others had discovered 740 distinct summits within the county, and over the years, he had climbed all but one, saving Peak 2306 for last.

Climbing 740 distinct summits of any sort is a monumental task, but then one has to consider the fact that many of these peaks have very difficult access, some are outright illegal to be on, and many are near the Mexican border where all sorts of bandidos are known to congregate. About half of Pima County is within the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, and they generally don’t want company, and large tracts of the county are within the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range, including areas that are “hot”, and always closed to civilians. So to climb them all is a remarkable feat, requiring endurance, ingenuity and bravery. Oh yes, quite a few are spires or cliff-bound, requiring advanced climbing skills.

So Doug was kind enough to save an easy one for his 740th and final ascent, so that mere mortals like me could join him and a few others for a celebratory hike and party afterwards. He chose Peak 2306 (the peak has no given name), which is a bump on the east end of the Puerto Blanco Mountains in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The attendees were many people I have known and met in the past, plus a couple whom I would meet for this first time today.

I left Scottsdale before dawn today (Saturday the 16th) and drove to Organ Pipe through Gila Bend, Ajo and Why, arriving to the Visitor’s center about 9:30 a.m., where about a half-dozen people were already milling around. Soon, everyone would be there, numbering about 20, then the man himself, Doug, rolled in. We all shook hands then carpooled a few miles north on Puerto Blanco Road to the Red Tinajas Trailhead parking area, north of Peak 2306.

Once everyone was ready, we started the hike, following an old road south about a mile, then where it started bending into the hills, we went cross country. We came upon a couple well-beaten paths put in by the border crossers, and even found a large stash of water bottles, some that appeared to be full. It looked like a recent stash. If there were any actual illegals here, they were staying well hidden.

Our group strung out, and somehow I found myself in the “fast” group. I was in a loose clump with Scott Peavy and Brian Rundle. We made our way up the easy slopes to a ridge north of the summit. Brian was now up ahead and Scott Peavy slightly behind. I had taken a break at the ridge where Matthias Stender and Andy Bates had now arrived.

The summit is guarded by a fun little cliff about 50 feet high. Up close, it reveals many easy chutes and three-foot wide ledges so that the actual climbing was class-2, perhaps class-3 due to the exposure. Soon, a few of us were at the top of the cliff, now just a few feet below the actual summit rocks. But we waited for Doug, to allow him to be the first to tag the summit.

Doug arrived very soon, and once most of us were up top, we let Doug go kick the top-most rock, and in doing so, he had now officially summited all 740 peaks within Pima County. Congratulations to him! I would be surprised if anyone ever repeats this feat.

Once Doug tagged the top, we all followed, then stood around or sat on rocks, eating, drinking and resting. The one-way hike took about a mile and a half with about 450 feet of gain, in about one hour. The views were very nice, with clear skies above us. We had a full panorama of mountains and desert in all directions, including south into Mexico. I could see Pinacate Peak in Mexico. Whenever I can see that peak, I feel like I’m at the end of the world.

Going down, we had options. The west ridge looked interesting. Bob Packard had gone that way to tag a few more peaks to the west. It looked like fun, so Matthias and I descended that way, which wasn’t too bad. It was a little sloppy in places, but we only needed to drop about 250 feet. Once back into the foothills, we followed our senses back to the road, then back to the cars.

Everyone was back to the cars after about 20 minutes. A few people had stayed back at the cars, including Doug’s wife and their dog. When we were all back, we all celebrated with cake and carbonated apple juice. A bicyclist riding by saw us and we offered for him to join, and he did. For him, it was probably the first time in his life he’s experienced random desert road cake.

We lingered here about an hour, but by 1:30, Scott, Matthias and I left to go hike another peak we were interested in, the highpoint of the Sonoyta Mountains. We said good bye to everyone and thanks to Doug and his wife for their hospitality.

Those in attendance were: Doug Kasian, me, Scott Peavy, Matthias Stender, Andy and Sarah Martin, Andy Bates, Brian Rundle, Bob Moore, Richard Joseph, John Vitz, Bill Sheets, Jody Ross, Bob Packard and Mark Adrian on the climb, and Doug’s wife Dottie and their dog and another couple back at the cars.

It was an honor to be a part of this short outing, and always fun to reconnect with fellow desert peak friends. It was my first time meeting Brian, John, Bill and Jody.

(c) 2016 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.