2009-02-15 Guest writes: This area of the park is currently closed to the public due to illegal border activity.
Organ Pipe is a relatively lesser known southwestern masterpiece. The Bates Mountains are a
remote jewel in the backcountry of Organ Pipe. Isolated and severe, they are trailess and require a lot of effort
to get to but offer big rewards. My friend Philip and I went there today to explore this
rugged wilderness and mountain range. We ended up climbing an un-named and spectacular peak that
looked impossible from below and set eyes on a future target...Kino Peak.
From Bates Well Ranch (Border Patrol camp) head basically south through the desert. Head for
the small saddle between the large flat mesa on your left and the small hill on the right. You
will be heading South here. You'll immediately pass by some old wooden corrals on your left.
Soon you'll cross Growler Wash. As you scramble alond head towards the right/west end of the small
saddle. Look around and pick out a well worn use path. Hop on this path and head out into the
wilderness. This is an area of border crossing (hence the Border Patrol camp) and there is
occasional evidence of their passage, though not much really. NPS told us you are unlikey to see them
during the day. Be careful.
As you cruise along the use trail there will be saguaros, organ pipes and some of the largest
cholla I've ever seen. This is pristine desert out here and it is beautiful. You will eventually
come to the head of Bates Valley separating the montains. The Bates Mountains are on your right. There is
no trail up into these mountains and no correct way to go. Our peak will soon become evident
as a severe sharp spire in the foreground of the range and it looks unattainble.
We followed the use path for about 45 minutes or so, to a point where a smaller saddle was evident
between larger peaks along the near ridge. Just head off to a point that looks manageable.
Climb away and up. At the saddle you will need to go left or south. There is no correct way.
We just scrambled along climbing as we went. Eventually we reached a spot where we briefly though
we had peaked out. Scramble left and slightly down and you can skirt to the left of the peaked
ridgeline. Keep heading south and climbing when possible. Eventually the face of Peak 2493
becomes visible again and looks scary...but you know a secret about it. You can climb up the
not visible backside. From where you are, you can start to climb up towards a saddle up and
to your right. You will climb up along and pass a huge number a dens and caves, each remarkable
for the obvious wildlife that has been in it. Keep climbing up to the peak from the saddle.
You will need to pass to the right or west side of the vertical north/northeast face. Pick
your way up and around the south/soutwest side, climbing whenever you can. The last 50 feet
or so have some significant exposure, which can feel severe at the very top. This does require nontechnical
rock climbing. Fear of heights will not work here. From the top the views are outstanding.
You can see everywhere and it is all amazing. To the south are a couple of huge pillar-like
peaks framing the range highpoint behind them...Kino Peak. This one is now on the list.
Make your way back whichever way you can. Be careful going down there is frequent loose footing
and many drainages down will not work due to severe droppoffs/cliffing out. Take this hike
seriously, the route finding, climbing and exposure can be severe. The payoff is large, though. - Nov 13 2006 fricknaley