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Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)

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Offline Lance

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Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« on: January 23, 2013, 06:06:15 PM »
This is our trip report from last weekend down in the park. Picacho, steelfrog, and I had planned to try and summit the Punta last year, but were chased out by a wicked lightning storm.  We decided to make another attempt this year after steelfrog had spotted a long and convoluted route through southwest section of the Puntas when visiting the Mule Ear Peaks with his kiddos. Studying the topo, it looked as though we could make an approach through this pass to the northwest side of Punta and potentially summit.

We packed our gear and headed out from DFW to the Marathon Motel on Thursday night. The next morning we stopped by PJ, got our backcountry permits and headed for the Mule Ears Overlook trail. We carried as much water as we could, with plans to stop by Casita Springs on our route. Our hope would be to find water so we would have plenty at camp and for our summit attempt and water up on our way back out. That plan happened to work out perfectly since Casita Springs had water and there were a couple of good tinajas not to far away from there.

Our route - Mule Ears Overlook to Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
GPX, KMZ, and TPO files attached.

Printable TOPO maps
Mule Ears Overlook to Punta de la Sierra (8.5x11)
Mule Ears Overlook to Punta de la Sierra (11x17)

Picacho Peak & Sugar Loaf Mountain - FULL SCREEN VERSION

The Sierra Quemada looking east on the Mule Ears trail.


View from the top of Mule Ears trail before dropping into Smoky Creek. 
Our path was pretty much straight across Smoky Creek towards the southwestern Puntas.



Mule Ears Peaks from Smoky Creek




Impassable 6 foot pouroff before Casita Springs. 
It was easy to get down, but required navigating the ridges to the west to get back around on our way out.



Ruins at Casita Springs




A canyon about a 1/3 of a mile southeast of Casita Springs that has several tinajas. 
The canyon is chock full of large boulders, but can be navigated from bottom to top and has no impassable pouroffs.



Wispy clouds over the Punta de la Sierra.  Taken from our campsite.


Ocotillo at sunset near our campsite

Mule Ear Peaks at Sunset - FULL SCREEN VERSION

Mule Ear Peaks at Sunset from our campsite.


Making our way into the canyon near the southwest Puntas just south of Pt 4205.


A 4000 ft pass in the western Puntas.  A 100 ft barbwire fence spans the pass from the old ranching days still remains.


Looking westward from the Puntas, around 4500 ft.  Mule Ears is right from center.


Looking down at the western Puntas. Santa Elena Canyon in the upper right.


The highest point of the Punta de la Sierra as viewed from the northwest.

Punta de la Sierra - Northwest Side - FULL SCREEN VERSION

View of Pt 5168, South Rim, Dominguez Mountain, Elephant Tusk and the Punta (Pt 4885).


On the northwest side of Punta (Pt 4885)


Picacho free climbing the 4th class section on the northeast ridge.


Picacho setting up the belay..


60 foot 4th class section on the northeast ridge of Punta (Pt 4885)


Steelfrog about to sh1t himself on Punta's northeast ridge.


On Punta's northeast ridge.  The 4700 ft peak due east looks like it can be summited.


50 foot 2nd class section on the northeast ridge of Punta (Pt 4885).  200-300 foot drop to the left..

Punta de la Sierra - North Summit - FULL SCREEN VERSION

Looking north over the Sierra Quemada from Punta's summit block.

Punta de la Sierra - South Summit - FULL SCREEN VERSION

Looking south towards Mexico from Punta's summit block.


Punta's summit cairn.  Placed by whom??


Rappelling down the 4th class section


On our way back out.  Heading southwest..


On the way out looking southeasterly from the pass with the barbwire fence.


Heading out of the western Puntas to camp near dusk..


Star-trails over the Punta de la Sierra


Pumping water at "Boulder Tinaja"


View westerly of the Puntas from the pass before entering back into Smoky Creek.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2016, 04:59:16 PM by Lance »

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2013, 06:27:35 PM »
Great pics & it looks like you had sweet weather & pretty clear skies.

See any interesting wildlife? Flowers? How was the flora -- any notable bounce-back from the drought?
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

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Offline Lance

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2013, 06:30:43 PM »
Great pics & it looks like you had sweet weather & pretty clear skies.

See any interesting wildlife? Flowers? How was the flora -- any notable bounce-back from the drought?

I chuckle at the wildlife part because yes, we did see a mountain sheep on the top of Punta!!!  Dead serious!
The desert is still obliterated because of the drought and freezes, but there were alot of moist spots when we hiked, so there may be a chance for recovery.  The flora was pretty dead though.   :icon_frown:

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Offline badknees

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2013, 06:31:36 PM »
Thanks for the post and the .gpx

You mentioned Casita having water? How was it?, flowing? pools?
Not all those who wander are lost.
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Offline Lance

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2013, 06:34:16 PM »
Thanks for the post and the .gpx

You mentioned Casita having water? How was it?, flowing? pools?

Casita was flowing, and there were some 6 inch pools near the hardwood trees.
There were alot of tadpoles in the pools, so we didn't filter water here, but you definitely could.
The boulder chocked canyon down about a 1/3 of the mile down from Casita had deeper pools and less stuff floating around in them.
We watered up at "Boulder Tinaja" on the way out..

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2013, 06:50:51 PM »
we did see a mountain sheep on the top of Punta!!!  Dead serious!


A bighorn? An aoudad?

Or, um, one of these...


John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

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Offline Lance

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2013, 06:53:16 PM »
we did see a mountain sheep on the top of Punta!!!  Dead serious!


A bighorn? An aoudad?

A bighorn sheep.  It ran off too fast for us to get a picture.  Not sure where it went off hiding too, but we're pretty darn sure it came up the way we did.  Why was he up there? To avoid predators perhaps?  enjoy the view?

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Offline badknees

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2013, 07:01:33 PM »
If indeed it was a bighorn, you should report that. I wasn't aware of any bighorns released in the park. As far as I know, the Elephant Mountain herd has been expanded to Black Gap NWR, BBRSP, and Nine Point Mesa. That is very significant find.
Not all those who wander are lost.
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Offline Terlingua50337

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2013, 07:03:36 PM »
Excellent pics Lance. You still carrying your DSLR? or did you go to a high end P&S?

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Offline Lance

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2013, 07:09:21 PM »
If indeed it was a bighorn, you should report that. I wasn't aware of any bighorns released in the park. As far as I know, the Elephant Mountain herd has been expanded to Black Gap NWR, BBRSP, and Nine Point Mesa. That is very significant find.

I'll have to get Picacho to describe it, because I didn't actually see it since it ran off as soon as he got to the summit.
He said it had curved back horns, but it very could well have been an aoudad now that I think about it.
I looked for a long time once we got on top, but Punta's summit is expansive and he probably hid out on a cliff somewhere or found another way down we didn't know about.

Excellent pics Lance. You still carrying your DSLR? or did you go to a high end P&S?
Yeah, I'm still carrying that ridiculously heavy DSLR.  I should probably get a nice, lighter weight P&S in the future.


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Offline SA Bill

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2013, 07:11:09 PM »
Excellent! :eusa_clap:  :notworthy:
  Bill
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Growing up is optional.

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2013, 07:32:49 PM »
Those are some interesting looking ruins. Were they built back into a small hill as it looks from the pics? Great stone work -- looks like they'll be standing for quite some time. Anyone know any history about these?
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

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Offline Lance

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2013, 07:55:28 PM »
Those are some interesting looking ruins. Were they built back into a small hill as it looks from the pics? Great stone work -- looks like they'll be standing for quite some time. Anyone know any history about these?

Don't know the history, but I guess it's an old ranching relic.  It was built into a small hill.  For keeping it cooler perhaps?
There was an old bent wire shaped into an antennae of sorts and various other things such as old rusted cans, fence nails, and a broken horse shoe.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2013, 08:02:14 PM »
Great work on the TR Lance,  you know I was just kidding on the kicking your @ss part  :icon_wink:  I knew that it takes time to put together a good show.  Thanks!   :eusa_clap:

I can't believe I missed those ruins at Casita springs, I recognize the cottonwoods there too.  Was the climb up the canyon to the pass near 4885 pretty straight forward or filled with a lot of boulder and brush?

I am really jealous of the clear skies you guys had, great weather for such a climb and resulting pictures.
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Offline elhombre

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Re: Climbing the Punta de la Sierra (Pt 4885)
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2013, 08:51:50 PM »
Beautiful....Absolu tely Beautiful    :great:
For 2 years the Fake News Media, Obama's FBI, CIA & DOJ, and Swamp dwelling Politicians COLLUDED, Illegally Spied,and LIED to America about POTUS in order to overturn an election

All the while demanding censorship and removal of opposition Conservative "hate speech" voices.  Globalists Hate Freedom

 


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