Peak 5,856ft P300
Peak 5,784ft P300
Slingshot Mountain P500
Peak 5,918ft P300
Peak 5,849ft P300
Peak 5,823ft P300
Peak 5,324ft

Mar 21, 2024
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX


The Ivanpah Mountains are found in Mojave National Preserve, south of Interstate 15 and Mountain Pass, about 15mi from the Nevada border. The area has seen extensive mining and prospecting back in the day, leaving a network of legacy roads, structures and detritus from the mining activity. I had been to the range back in 2012 with Evan Rasumussen when chasing down peaks found in Zdon's Desert Summits, and then again on a few other visits. I was back to collect the remaining seven unnamed summits to fill out the collection. The biggest obstacle was that the most convenient access, Cima Rd on the west side of the range, was closed for extensive reconstruction and paving. The NPS has had it closed all winter and recently extended the closure to late May. There is 4WD access from the north at Mountain Pass, at it was this that I would use to enter and exit the area. It's a lot of dirt road driving, but I had all day and it wasn't much of an issue. None of the hikes were very long, all of them standard class 2. Much of the effort was in the driving, something I minded not a whit since it gave me a nice break between stints.

Peak 5,846ft

I approached this from the northwest, at the end of a spur road leading to some prospects. The hardest part was the rough driving down the narrow wash between the summit and Kokoweef Peak to the north. The longer drive around the west side of Kokoweef has better roads. It took about 20min to reach the summit where I found the first of several MacLeod/Lilley registers on the day, all from 1986. There were a handful of visitors in the 80s & 90s, as one mentioned, looking for another entrance to the cavern. This is a reference to a fantastical legend from the 1930s, claiming the existence of a 5,000-foot deep cavern in the limestone of Kokoweef Peak, with untold placer riches called the River of Gold. Not surprisingly, there has been no news of its rediscovery. And it seems since the advent of the Internet, folks stopped believing the legend.

Peak 5,784ft

I entered Mojave NP on my drive to this second peak, marked by a sign that prohibits non-street legal vehicles. I took a spur road that goes up the drainage between this and the next peak, parking when I was west of Peak 5,784ft, about half a mile distance. This one took about 25min to reach the summit. A register was found in a plastic film cannister, inside a Lite beer can. My first instinct was to give Smatko credit, but I was surprised to find it was the same MacLeod/Lilley party as the previous summit register. The only other entry was from 2005, so about 20yrs between visits, this one.

Slingshot Mtn

Back at the Jeep, I drove a bit further to the end of the spur road where it tops out on a saddle on the crest of the range, about half a mile ENE of Slingshot Peak. This one also took 25min to reach the top. There was a Smatko register from 1978 as well as a booklet from the MacLeod/Lilley party the following day in 1986. This had a few more entries, including the likes of Adam Walker, who probably visited it because it has over 500ft of prominence (the most prominent of today's peaks). Smatko gave the name for this summit, so I've included it here - sounds better than Peak 5,921ft.

Peak 5,918ft

I had about 50min of driving to this next one, taking me past J Riley Bembry's grave along the main Kessler Peak Rd, and then a spur road past his camp on the northwest side of Peak 5,918ft. Bembry was of the Lost Generation, having served as a medic during WWI, a butcher afterwards, and then some 50yrs as a prospector in this part of the Mojave. His camp has been maintained by volunteers since his death in the 1980s, with a rather large homestead. The Internet has numerous stories about the man, well worth a read. I stopped at the camp to tour the main cabin after visiting the peak - one of the better such camps I've found in the Mojave. There are old mining equipment and works throughout the area, an outdoor museum to mining efforts of a bygone era. The hike took only about 20min, probably the most interesting of the day with a granite gully reminiscent of Joshua Tree. Smatko had recorded a climb on this summit in 1978, but I failed to find a register he might have left.

Peak 5,849ft - Southpah Mtn

More driving south had me about a mile west of these two summits. No spur round is found to get one closer. I parked within the eastern boundary of the 2020 Dome fire, one of the largest ever to burn in the Mojave Desert. With little rain, there are few signs of recovery. The large Joshua Tree forest was almost completely wiped out within the burn area and I saw no sign of new growth as could be seen with the yuccas. The cacti varieties were similarly wiped out within the burn zone. The fire was spread easily by the tall grasses that grow here. I hiked up the drainage between the two peaks, with Peak 5,849ft spared in the fire, Southpah not so. There is a pretty clean delineation of burned/unburned even four years after the fire. I climbed Peak 5,849ft from the southwest first, taking about 50min. Outside the burn zone during the ascent, I managed to carelessly brush against a cactus with my gloved hand and spent the next 10min carefully extracting the tiny needles from my glove and hand. The summit features some easy class 3 granite boulders. I found no register on this one either. I next spent about 45min getting to the second summit, this time bumping an ankle into a cactus on the way down from Peak 5,849ft - you'd think I'd be more careful - and so another 5min were spent on extracting more needles (different variety, similarly nasty). Smatko had dubbed the second summit as Southpah Mtn in the register he left in 1978. This one had no other signatures for 46 years, though someone appears to have scratched out the First ascent line after their three names. It would take an additional 35min on the return to the Jeep. Since the entire return was within the burn zone, I had easy cruising without concern for the cacti - maybe fire in the desert isn't so bad...

Peak 5,324ft

I hadn't planned to do this one, but since it was only 4p, I still had three hours of daylight. The peak is located south of Kessler Peak (which I'd already climbed) and I would have to drive some distance on Cima Rd to reach it. I knew the road was officially closed to the public, but figured I could get away with a mile of driving on it. The bigger problem was where to park. The east side of Cima Rd is the site of government buildings managed by the NPS, signed for No Trespassing. There were several vehicles parked there, and I couldn't tell if folks were inside working, or just storing their vehicles. I decided to park on the west side of Cima Rd, off a BLM road heading in that direction towards Cima Dome. Presumeably, I could have come in that way legally, so I didn't see any reason I shouldn't be able to park there. From there, it's about a mile east to Peak 5,324ft. I walked through the government area (there have been newer buildings erected since the fire), then across a wide wash before ascending the NW slopes of the peak. This is mostly straightforward with a bit of class 2-3 near the summit where the granite blocks get bigger and more numerous. It was about 30min to the summit where I left a register before returning the same way.

It was 6p when I returned to the Jeep. I thought briefly about driving back to I-15 via Cima Rd, but didn't want to take the chance of either an LEO encounter or a section of road blocked and undriveable. I still had plenty of daylight, so I showered, changed to fresh clothes, opened an adult beverage, and spent the next hour driving back out on the dirt roads (avoiding the nasty bits from earlier), a most relaxing bit of further adventure around sunset. I would end up camped behind the Whiskey Pete's at Primm, same place I'd camped on the last night of my previous trip to Las Vegas...


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