Mexican Mountain

The San Rafael Swell is swell.

May, 1999


John, Sally and I made a trip to the San Rafael Swell in Utah in the spring of 1999. It was a great trip, and I had a blast. Among the things we did was climb Mexican Mountain (part of a wilderness study area). While it is only 6,393’ high, it was still a workout! We car camped overnight, and then drove to where the rugged “road” ended near the mountain. From there we walked around to the north side of the mountain and crossed the San Rafael River (about thigh deep) at Mexican Bend (4,500’) to begin the actual climb.

We then climbed the north slopes up a talus cone until we reached a very short stretch of actual rock climbing (5.0 at most!). Of course John scaled it without even blinking, then they coached me up over it and on we went, wrapping around to the east side of the mountain between the main bulk and a cool tower to the east. From there it was up through some very smooth, wonderful sandstone (but then, in Utah, what isn’t?) I remember being on one slope that was about 40° and just rolled away for a long way down, and thinking “If I slipped, I wouldn’t stop”, but the sandstone has such excellent traction that slipping would be out of the question.

We kept kept circling around the summit while continuing our climb, scrambling higher and around to the south side. We finally broke out onto a platform between a minor summit on the south side and the main summit cone on the north. The views were amazing out over the desert. Quite different than the trees and snow of Colorado, but beautiful and breathtaking nonetheless. We rested for a while and then began the descent, with John doing his usual rocket-propelled descent, leaving Sally and me, mere mortals, to wend our way down on our own. While descending the talus cone, I got quite sick - once again, dehydration and heat getting to me (note: take more than two liters for desert excursions – even “day hikes”). After a rest (waving to John off in the distance), we continued down, finally crossing the river and getting back to their SUV (and more water!) As soon as I rehydrated I was fine and ready for more. A good day.

Round-Trip ~4 mi (~6.4km)
Time ~5:00
Starting Elev ~4,500’ (~1,372m)
Max Elev 6,393’ (1,949m)



Click on any picture below to see the slides full-sized.

Mexican Mountain from West Mexican Mountain from Across River Tower on the Way Up San Rafael River Crossing Black Box Canyon Black Box Canyon and Window Blind Peak John and Sally on Summit Northeast Pano Rock Formation on Summit John and Jim on Summit Camping on BLM Land