Change of Plans…

The plan was to climb the ridgeline from Hellhole Canyon and summit Ted and Webo Benchmarks, but as we drove out toward Borrego Springs, neither Susie nor I had that much enthusiasm for this hike. I had already done it twice, so this hike was solely to help Susie along toward her finishing the San Diego Sierra Club 100 list a second time. We pulled into the parking area, looked at the ridge and the 3,000+ feet of gain that stood before us, and said “Let’s hike something else”. Since she did need Borrego Mountain East Butte, we picked that as our first replacement of the day. After a quick pit stop at the bathrooms at the off-road area, we drove the dirt road up toward the land bridge that I used last time. 

Susie’s other time summiting East Butte was via the rocky gully. That was the same route I had used for my first time as well. But my second time up I used the land bridge to climb it from the west side. 

After parking and snapping some photos with the Santa Rosa mountain range behind us, we climbed the steep slope toward the summit. We quickly found ourselves approaching the summit. Once there we signed the register and took in the views. Since this was such a quick jaunt, we debated what else we might try to tackle. Most of our other Sierra Club peaks weren’t an option, so instead, we turned to the San Diego Peak Club List and found Perpendicular Bluff Benchmark as a strong candidate. 

We drove back along the Highway, amazed at the string of cars and RVs heading the other way. Found a safe place to park near the start of Keith Winston’s track. After scampering across the road, we then cruised across the desert floor, passing through a nice grove of agave. In reviewing Keith’s track, we had a general sense of what he did to reach the summit. We saw a nice spot to hop on the ridge that he eventually got onto later. The ridge had no real obstacles or navigational challenges, and soon we were atop Perpendicular Bluff Benchmark. 

We found the benchmark and the register and after a short break, we headed back down, following the same ridge. Once back at the car, we both agreed this was a fun little desert peak and we’re glad about opting to do something else. The stats for East Butte were 1.27 miles in 1:19 with an elevation gain of 440 feet. The stats for Perpendicular Bluff were 2.55 miles in 1:50, with an elevation gain of 595.


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, 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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