Luna County High Point Trip Report

Cookes Peak (8,408 ft)

Date: March 18, 2002
Author: Mike Coltrin

Figuring there was no reason to hurry, I took my time driving to Deming from Tucson. On the drive into the ghost town of Cookes Peak I took the detour to the Hyatt Ranch and received the rancher's permission to cross his land and the combination to his locked gate. I found the road beyond the gate to be in fairly good shape for a backcountry road and had no trouble driving to the ridge 2 miles north of Cookes Peak.

My hike began at noon. I contoured around most of the first hill on the ridge (6925) then found unexpected trouble in finding a route through a band of limestone about fifteen feet high that belted the southern portion of this hill. At the top of the place, I climbed I found a small cairn. At the next major bump on the ridge (7208), I took a late lunch break.

The next section of ridge line was fairly open and easy hiking taking me up to where the real climb began. I contoured toward a talus slope and climbed toward the most obvious break in the summit cliff. The talus was very loose. I did not intend to climb through the notch, I only wanted to gain elevation and avoid an oak thicket south of the talus. I ended up higher than I probably should have been so my traverse to the south side of the summit block was a bit exposed. Once on solid rock, the final 300 feet to the top was a piece of cake. I reached the summit at 3:00 pm.

On the way down, I found a better crack at the lower part of the cliff and descended on a talus slope about 200 feet south of the one I had climbed. This was a safer route. At about the 7600-foot level, I traversed back to the north ridge and made my way back to my truck. In order to avoid the limestone 'wall' that was such a bother on the climb, I dropped down to the road in the gully between points 6847 and 6925 and hiked the road back to the saddle. If I were to do this hike again I would begin it at this gully. I was back at my truck at 5:00 pm.