Savahia Peak P900
Peak 3,357ft P1K

Sun, Dec 3, 2017

With: Iris Ma
Scott Barnes
Michael Graupe

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2


Today we were after a few more prominence peaks, these in the Whipple Mountains on the eastern edge of the state near Parker Dam. I had been to this range on two previous occasions, the first to reach the range highpoint in 2008 while chasing down the DPS summits, and more recently in 2015 on a similar desert road trip. On that second visit we had run out of time to tackle today's peaks along with some others that we had to leave for a future visit. There are so many interesting peaks in the Whipple Mtns, particularly that part of the range close to the Colorado River, that one could easily spend a week exploring them. We had spent the night camped on the north side of the Colorado River Aqueduct and SR62, on a lonely stretch of BLM land between US95 and the river. In the morning we piled into Michael's Nissan Pathfinder and headed off for the first of the day's peaks.

Savahia Peak

This peak rises as a lone figure from the desert on the western end of the range, easily visible from US95 and SR62. It has seen extensive mining interest over the years though that is all dormant now. An old mining road, now a BLM route, runs north from the aqueduct to the west side of Savahia Peak where we parked less than 2/3mi from the highpoint. Up close, the peak appears far more impressive with dark volcanic rock that juts up more sharply than we had guessed. It looks to be more difficult than it really is, the West Gully providing a mostly class 2 route with some short bits of easy class 3. I had thought this might be a quick one-hour effort that would get us back and onto the big ticket peak much sooner, but the driving and climbing were both more involved. We spent about 45min climbing up the gully and then north along the crest to reach the benchmark at the highpoint. Iris helped me with the wiring to reinstate the survey stick that once stood here while Michael watched with amusement and Scott perused the summit register. The Vitz register dated to 1993 though it noted an earlier 1973 ascent by a Gordon MacLeod party. There have been a handful of visitors since, the most recent some five years ago. Not finding any obvious alternative routes, we descended back the same way we'd come. Scott did a bit of jogging at the end to stretch his legs a bit more while ensuring he was the first back.

Peak 3,357ft

It would take us another hour to drive back out to the aqueduct road and then east to our starting point for Peak 3,357ft near the Blue Cloud Mine. We drove about half a mile further up the wash than I had expected we might be able to and probably could have gone another mile with a Jeep or similar. I was happy that we were able to get as far as we did, making the distance to the summit less than 5mi one-way. The hike turned out better than anticipated, too. I thought the hike up the long wash system was going to be pretty mundane, but that ended after the first hour when the wash began to narrow and grow more interesting. A defunct guzzler is found where the canyon first narrows. Three large water tanks once fed the guzzler enclosed by fencing on three sides. The tanks were filled by a water line running up the canyon to a spring that no longer seems to run, at least not that we could discover. The fencing appears to have been designed to keep the wild burros out, allowing only the bighorn sheep that can approach from the open cliff side. The guzzler was high enough off the ground to keep reptiles and smaller mammals from taking advantage of it. Nearby at a small dry waterfall, there was evidence that the burros are used to digging in the soft sand to obtain water a foot or so under the surface - so much for human enviro-engineering.

After following the narrow portion of the canyon for another mile, we started out of the drainage to climb the South Ridge leading to Peak 3,357ft. It was an interesting ridgeline with some avoidable class 3 that took us through colorful rockbands, a cholla garden (careful here!), and a false summit before catching a view of the highpoint another third of a mile further north. In all, we would spend the better part of two and half hours climbing 2,200ft to the summit. Barbara and Gordon had beaten us to the summit by some 38 years with another three parties occupying the second page of the register. The summit has a fine view overlooking the Whipple Mtns, with the range highpoint rising in a broad ridgeline behind us to the north, Cupcake Mtn and most of the other interesting volcanic summits to the east and southeast. Our descent was only a modest variation of our ascent as we dropped west off the South Ridge once we were about halfway down in order to reach the wash a bit sooner. It didn't end up being any faster in the end, but no one seemed to mind much. Not long after returning to the wash, we came across a tarantula out of his hole, probably looking for a mate. We interrupted his quest for several moments as we tried to get him to pose for our pictures. Hopefully it wasn't too disruptive and he was able to continue his quest...

We were back to the vehicle not long after 2:30p and settled in for the longish drive back to our campsite where we'd left our vehicles along the aqueduct. I was left to fend for myself for the rest of the week as my companions drove back to civilization and jobs, the latter of which have become somewhat distant memories for me. I drove the van to Parker, AZ where I refueled both vehicle and myself before retiring back to the California side to find a quiet place to sleep for the night. I felt a bit lonely after the others had left me, but as I settled down to sleep for the night, cozily ensconsed in my sleeping bag, I was already looking forward to the next few days' solo adventures and the sadness slipped away...


Scott Barnes comments on 12/21/17:
Frankly, I'm shocked by how quickly you got over our departure. Whereas most would feel as if the soul of the group was rent from its idyllic moorings, you hastily heaved half a hermitical sigh and hurled us from your head. How harsh!
Seems you'll need to up your game if you want to make more of an impression.
Tom comments on 12/25/17:
Welcome to the club, Scott. At least he hasn't admitted to you that he only invites you so your vehicle can get him to the tough trailheads. [grumble]
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