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TR - Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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TR - Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan

Postby Bobo » Sun Jun 03, 2007 11:15 am

Guadalupe Peak (8,749 ft) and El Capitan, TX
Date: Friday June 1, and Saturday, June 2, 2007
Group: Just me and a couple of spirits
Route: Standard Guadalupe Peak Trail plus Bushwhack to El Capitan
Total elevation gain: ~4,250ft. (including side trip to El Capitan)

Note If you don’t read any other part of this TR, read this:

I know it’s a peak in the state of Texas, and it’s not even 9,000ft high, and has a well established trail all the way to the top. Why even climb it you say? Well, it is one of the 50 state high-points, and you do ascend 3,000 vertical feet to gain the summit, and, I’ll be so bold to say that it’s a pretty spectacular summit. AND (this is important), if you do climb Guadalupe Peak, you really, really, really should take the time to scramble to El Capitan…FANTASTIC. This made it all worth while to me. (more on that later if you take the time to read the rest of the report…)

With my wife in France for two weeks, and the kids in Michigan with G’ma and G’pa, I needed to find something to do with myself. Bagging TX’s highpoint has been on my mind for a while, so I decided this is the time. I also wanted to get a state highpoint for TM (even though he had climbed it last year), and for my friend Vern Brown, who also died way too young.

I left Las Cruces around 11:30, had lunch in El Paso with a buddy, then hit the “Texas Mountain Trail” (yes, that’s what they call US62 as it heads east from El Paso). You catch the first glimpse of Guadalupe Peak and El Cap when you’re still about 60 miles away, but it really stands out in contrast against the salt-flats just to the west. My plan was to either camp at the park HQ, and hike Saturday, or if I got there early enough, backpack to the Guadalupe Peak backcountry campground and get an early summit (this would be the best chance to get out to El Capitan too).
"At this point the runner might philosophize a and consider just where he or she is in the Imogene Pass Run. You've climbed 1945 ft of elevation in 5.45 mi, at an average of 356 ft./mi., 6.8% gradient. To reach Imogene Pass you must climb 3365 ft in the next 4.60 mi, at an average of 731 ft./mi., or 13.85% gradient. Your effort so far has simply been a warmup. The steep gradients of the named hills below are now less than the average gradient ahead." - IPR course description

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Postby MtHurd » Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:25 pm

One of the best trip reports I have seen from Guadalupe Peak. Congrats.

By the way, I tried to descend off of El Cap down the prominent gully that comes down from Guadalupe Peak but I dead ended at a 50 ft. cliff that would have required a rappel. No rope, so back up I went approximately the way you went out. The rest of the Guadalupe Mountains have some fine places to check out also. McKittrick Canyon is a spectacular place with cliffs even higher than those coming off of Guadalupe Peak.

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Postby SnowDevil » Sun Jun 03, 2007 2:06 pm

Great trip report! I grew up in El Paso and would frequently pass El Capitan and Guadalupe Pk, but never got to hike them.

Postby jimlup » Sun Jun 03, 2007 2:34 pm

Great report! Be sure to enter it in the TM high points site that Bill so graciously set up!

http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/dwhighpoints.php
"Just because you have the gear does not mean that you are a Mountaineer!" My daughter's cynical comment about my hobby...

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Postby Bobo » Sun Jun 03, 2007 4:55 pm

BTW, did you see any critters? Snakes, scorpions, etc.?


That thing I brushed off my face during the night might have been a scorpion :shock:

Seriously I didn't see anything significant. That entire traverse to El Cap I was worried about rattlesnakes. The terrain is perfect for them, and the low brushy scrub means you have a hard time seeing them in advance. I tried to place my trekking pole close to where I planned to step, hoping to get some advanced snake warning, but I didn't see any.

Great report! Be sure to enter it in the TM high points site that Bill so graciously set up!


Done. (and thanks Bill)
"At this point the runner might philosophize a and consider just where he or she is in the Imogene Pass Run. You've climbed 1945 ft of elevation in 5.45 mi, at an average of 356 ft./mi., 6.8% gradient. To reach Imogene Pass you must climb 3365 ft in the next 4.60 mi, at an average of 731 ft./mi., or 13.85% gradient. Your effort so far has simply been a warmup. The steep gradients of the named hills below are now less than the average gradient ahead." - IPR course description

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Postby MtHurd » Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:39 pm

It is unlikely on the traverse that you will see any snakes, they need water and there is none up there.

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Postby Ackbar » Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:37 am

I got hailed out on my first trip to Guadalupe. Marble to ping-pong ball sized hail. Not even kidding. It was late October. It made bushwhacking feel like frolicking through a field of feathers. My buddy, who lives in Houston, tried to "take cover." Right. I think he was bordering on hypothermia. Next thing I know he was sitting in the Subway in Carlsbad (inside Wal-Mart) in a full fleece/shell with a chollo hat. The sign outside by the bank said it was 78 degrees.
"with gravity times velocity times speed, by the time it hits you, it hurts pretty bad"
--Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett

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Re: TR - Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan

Postby David Connolly » Sat Mar 15, 2008 10:53 pm

Great report. And spectacular pictures. I'm sure it was amazing up there by yourself. I've got to go see this and it's the right time of year (March 15).
" I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth...."
Steve McQueen

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Re: TR - Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan

Postby Mad Mike » Sun Mar 16, 2008 2:57 pm

Awesome report. Besides DFW Airport I've never stepped foot in TX. Now I might have to make the trip. Where in the state are those mountains? (I know I could easily search it, but I'm feeling lazy)

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Re: TR - Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan

Postby MtHurd » Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:31 pm

100 miles due east of El Paso. Same mountain range as Carlsbad Caverns National Park, about 35 miles south of the caverns as the crow flies. The northern portion of the park borders New Mexico.

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Re: TR - Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan

Postby dmteatime » Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:31 am

Fantastic write up. It was exactly what I was looking for. However, I was trying to get a more detailed idea of what the bushwhack over to El Capitan would be like but it seems the pictures have expired. Is there any way you can re-upload the photos for this post?

Also, approximately how long did it take you to go from camp-->Guadalupe Summit-->El Capitan-->Back to camp again?

I'm going in March with my girlfriend and trying to gather as much information as possible.

Thanks a lot.

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Re: TR - Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan

Postby Ace » Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:51 am

I hike pretty slow, and it takes me 7 hours to do Pine Springs to Guadalupe summit, and then back. That's with a little summit time. When I've gone over to El Cap, it's added 3 hours. Except for the time I found the 50 foot cliff mentioned earlier. That added like 6 hours instead of 3, and was an absolute beating.

If you want to go to the Guadalupe back country campground, just know it's only about 45 minutes from the summit. It's definitely a cool place to camp, but I'm not sure the extra water weight you'd have to carry would make the fun of camping there worth it. It doesn't for me anyways.

If you go up there, plan a day to do the Tejas Trail to Hunter Peak, then come back to Pine Springs via Bear Canyon. Also I HIGHLY recommend at least a day trip through MicKittrick Canyon.

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