By: Ron Jones
Greg Vernon, Larry Machleder, Cuno Ranschau and I climbed Montezuma's Head in Organ Pipe National Monument on Thanksgiving Day. There is a little route finding involved and a description will help future climbers.
First one should get a permit for technical climbing at the Monument's Visitors Center. The ranger will ask about experience and point out that there are no rescue facilities available south of Tucson. From the Visitors Center we drove north on Highway 85 to milepost 63 where we parked our van. No off road driving or parking is allowed in the Monument.
We hiked the 4 miles from the road and scrambled up to the saddle north of the peak. From the saddle one sees a ramp system leading upward and to the right (west). We selected the ramp just beneath a prominent yellow ramp and hiked around to the west side until we came to an obvious cleft. The route goes high third or low fourth class up the cleft or up the rib to its right and eventually brings you left to the "shoulder" of the peak. On the shoulder we traversed left until we were on the northeast side of the peak. At this point there we found a piton down low in order to anchor a belayer. Here we had a 5.l pitch, of about 15 feet leading up to a chimney.
Once at this point the route up was obvious with another two or three short pitches we judged to be 5.1 and 5.2. The summit register is new and needs a container. The descent can be comfortably down-climbed or can be rappelled. A 120 foot rope is more than adequate.
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