Diablo Benchmark

The first peak of an entire weekend out in Anza-Borrego was to be Diablo Benchmark. Susie Kara and Matt Bennett convinced me to come out Friday afternoon to summit this peak. They had planned to primitive camp overnight nearby. I opted for a little more comfort and grabbed a campsite at Agua Caliente. I loaded up the Outback and headed out. Since I had already booked a hotel for Saturday night, I really did not need too much in terms of food or gear. I got to the campsite a bit behind schedule but was able to quickly set up the tent and toss in my gear.

I met Susie and Matt at the turnoff for June Wash, and they quickly piled into the car and off we went. Our plan was to drive up the wash road as far as we could, then hike up the rest of the way. I had no trouble driving the route. Once we neared the start of Greg Gerlach’s recent track, we found a nice spot to park the car and set off.

We continued to follow the wash for a while, avoiding the chollas that dotted the entire route. Soon it was time to leave the wash and ascend to the ridgeline. We initially started up the wrong one, but I recognized the proper hillside from some Google Earth research I had done and we dropped over to it.

Once on the proper ridgeline, the views to the east were spectacular. The twisted canyons were spread out before us. The climb up the ridgeline was mild, and soon the summit came into view. The direct path looked a bit rocky, but a fairly clear route bent to the west and then arched back to the east.

Upon reaching the summit, we began looking for the benchmark and register. I scoured along the ridge to the north, and Susie and Matt headed south. They won. We signed the register and snapped our photos.

The sun was slowly setting over the Lagunas to the west. So we began our descent, keeping an eye on the setting sun, mostly for photo opportunities.

We made it back to the car without any real issue, sans a few chollas that attacked us. I dropped Susie and Matt off at their car and drove the 5 minutes back to my campsite. I bundled up and lit a nice campfire, enjoyed my dinner, and turned in for the night. #79 of #SD100 was in the books.

I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

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