As the name suggests, this is the standard--and quite possibly only--route up to the summit. It is a fairly short hike with some exposed and at times thrilling class 3-4 scrambling to gain the final summit cap. There is a short section of aid in the form of a ladder, to negotiate an otherwise class 5 cliff en route.
From the trailhead (see the main page for driving directions), follow the obvious trail up the canyon. The trail is braided in places, but the various use trails all basically take you towards the same place, which is towards the mines below Pico Perico. (There are no cairns to mark the way, but instead painted arrows on the rocks serve as the primary trail markers).
As you gain elevation in the canyon, you will pass a large bell and a statue of the Virgin Mary. Continue on the trail, and a few hundred feet higher up, there is a fork, with the left branch heading up to the Pico Piloto-Pico Perico saddle, and the right fork heading off towards Paso de las Bicicletas, which leads to the aforementioned mines. (There is a painted sign for Piloto and Perico at this junction). Take this left fork, and follow the trail steeply up to the saddle.
(If you are on one of the alternative braids of the trail, you may not see a fork, and instead will find yourself at Paso de las Bicicletas. Even if you haven't hiked up here before, this will still be instantly recognizable as the narrow trail that follows immediately below some impressive cliffs--and to confirm this, if you continue, you will find the mine almost immediately beyond this narrow stretch. If this happens, retrace your steps, keeping to the highest trails you can, and you should find the junction.)
From the saddle, the route-finding is fairly obvious: Follow the painted arrows for the easiest route, keeping to the obvious weaknesses that thread their way through the cliffs. Some details follow. (These are written from memory a few months after I climbed this, so while I remember the most salient points, I may be hazy on details. Please feel free to post any corrections.)
Start off by following the ridge initially. After a short way, the 'trail' starts to follow the left (east) side of the ridge, keeping below some sheer cliffs. A use trail leads to a small bowl on the east side of the peak, where further easy progress is blocked. This bowl, formed by the sheer cliffs dropping down from the summit, marks the start of the scrambling portion of the route. (This picture
gives a fairly good idea of the steepness of the scrambling.)
Look at the wall to your right, and you should notice a steel cable bolted to the wall, leading up and right. Scramble up a short way (class 3) to the lower end of this cable, and continue scrambling up easy but exposed rock
(mostly class 3, a couple of class 4 moves), following the cable up to a broad ledge. (I assume the cable is there as an emergency handline, but it seems far more annoying than helpful.) From the ledge, continue scrambling up and right over exposed rock, following the cable again; this section is arguably the crux
, and is class 4 in places. The exposure is huge, but so are (most of) the holds, and the rock is solid.
Once past this, you reach yet another broad platform with a tree. Scramble up a short, awkward inside corner (10-15ft)--a tricky move, but there is little exposure compared to the first couple of sections. (It would be class 4 otherwise.) This leads up to the base of a metal ladder
, which allows negotiation of an otherwise class 5 wall.
Climb the ladder to its top. (There is a good deal of loose rock on the ledges underneath the ladder, so only one person at a time should climb this, and any others in the group should wait out of the line of fire.) Above this, there is an easy scramble up class 2-3 slabs, followed by more easy scrambling up to the summit ridge.
As you reach the ridge again, the final summit cap should be in view. Follow the crest of the ridge
to the base of the cap
. You can either climb it directly via an awkward chimney, or continue on a use trail around the east side and find an easy scramble up the back side of the cap. There is a spectacular view of Pico Perico from the top.
To descend, retrace your steps. Note that downclimbing the ladder is quite a bit harder than climbing up--the ladder only hangs loosely against the cliff, so you have to be sure to push it away from the wall lest you trap your fingers while descending!
No gear is necessary, but some people opt to rap past the crux portions. There are a couple of bolted rappel stations to assist with this; a short (e.g. 30m) rope suffices.