San Ysidro Mountain Trip Report

San Ysidro Mountain (6,147+ feet)

Date: December 24, 2005

This dayhike with Edward Earl was ostensibly done as fitness training for Aconcagua next month. Our specific venue was selected by Edward because San Ysidro is the only non-military summit in San Diego County with at least 900 feet of clean prominence that he had not done.

I retrieved Edward in my truck at 7 a.m. and we were at the trailhead 72.8 odometer miles after leaving my Del Mar Highlands condominium - the northernmost point of a horseshoe bend in the Anza Borrego Highway just before it drops into the Mojave Desert near the Salton Sea.

The very highest point on the summit plateau is either of two boulders - one at the southwest end; one at the northeast end; and separated by perhaps two hundred yards. The San Ysidro benchmark lies in the southwestern boulder outcrop. Here one finds the summit register as well.

Climbing both outcrop's respective highest boulder is required to claim the prominence. We could not decide which boulder was higher, and so had to scale both boulders to ensure that the very highest point was indeed reached.

After climbing the highest local boulder, Edward and I left our packs at the southwest end and headed northeast. I decided to not climb the northeastern boulder because of exposure - had I gotten injured Aconcagua would be out of the picture. Not worth the risk, I watched as Edward alone climbed the boulder with great care, taking considerable time to make a few moves over roughly fifteen feet of gain. The (short) route is Class 4.

I claim to have climbed San Ysidro Mountain by most people's concept of what that means - especially since I visited the summit benchmark (BM Ysidro), summit register, and highest local point. However I cannot claim with certainty to have "gotten the prominence".

The next day, when enjoying a holiday supper at my place I noted to Edward that his uphill aerobic performance was not up to par. This concerns me since Aconcagua is not a mountain you climb unless in very very good physical condition.

The net elevation gain is about 2,800 feet, from just over 3,100 feet at my truck to the 6,150 foot summit. In-between the navigation results in at least 200 feet of loss descending the north side of a 5,326 foot hill about one mile south of the goal. Access issues exist because the west slope of this hill, and indeed a more convenient (higher) starting elevation are on private land. All told the total elevation gain was about 3,400 feet - including the scrambling on the summit plateau to reach all bouldertops that contend for status as the highest natural ground.

Ysidro benchmark lies at 6,147 feet. However the nearby highest bouldertop is at least three feet higher. Hence I report the elevation of San Ysidro Mountain as 6,147+ feet - and likely is about 6,150 feet.

I consciously refused to ascend the second boulder even though I am physically capable of climbing it free. This is to be distinguished from an unwillingness to climb because one is afraid or is physically incapable of the act. Given these considerations, I could be convinced to return some day for the second bouldertop - but timed so that a broken ankle or collar would not destroy an opportunity to stand at the highest point in the Americas.