Battleship Mountain P500 RS
Peak 4,100ft P300
Boundary Cone P750 RS

Thu, Dec 9, 2021

With: Eric Smith
Tom Grundy
Iris Ma

Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profiles: 1 2

Continued...

Battleship Mtn - Peak 4,100ft

Battleship Mtn lies in the southwest corner of the Mount Nutt Wilderness in the Black Mountains of Mohave County. A rather long-winded account of it can be found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles, giving the appearance of difficult route-finding and sometimes treacherous rock. Using a route not described there, we found little of that sort and found it an enjoyable outing with some fun scrambling. Eric and I had been to the area two years earlier for the higher Mt. Nutt and a few surrounding summits. Stav Basis had done those same three along with Battleship and another bonus on a more ambitious outing earlier that same year. Scott Barnes would repeat Stav's route in the opposite direction on the same day with Eric and I. Eric and I were back today for Battleship and the bonus peak, this time with Iris and Tom in tow. My brother had joined us as well the previous evening, but feeling under the weather, he decided to sit out the day. Four of us drove in the Jeep up Cottonwood Canyon and the cherry stem extending into the Wilderness. We didn't manage to drive as far up the wash as my companions might have liked, as I stopped not long after it started to get rough, brushy, and no faster than we could do at a walk anyway. Complaining aside, it was enough to make the outing less than five miles, roundtrip.

We spent the first half hour and change walking up the remaining bits of road in the wash to a private inholding at a spring. Cattle once grazed here, but it appears to have been many years since the land has been used for this or any purpose, other than as defacto Wilderness. We scrambled onto the left bank where the spring and an old dam are encountered. A few cottonwoods still grow in the grave-filled dam. We had Adam Walker's GPX track with us, but rather than continue up the canyon past the spring as he'd done, we turned northwest to begin climbing slopes into the drainage southeast of our peak, a shortcut on Adam's track. This worked nicely, passing through a small saddle before dropping a short distance into the SE drainage. This soon leads to the first and largest dryfall found in the drainage, a sporty class 3 climb that we made in turns. Above this, the going gets easier but there's still plenty of fun scrambling, sometimes dodging cholla, catclaw and other thorny plants that inhabit the range. At the end of the second hour, we had reached a saddle between our summit and a striking pinnacle to the northeast. There was some discussion on how to proceed from this point. Adam's track takes a detour around the north side of the NE Ridge to eventually climb the peak from the west. We were only 1/3mi from the summit at the saddle, and I wondered why we couldn't just follow the ridge more directly. I went into salesman mode, selling the route as a fine scramble, though I knew nothing the others didn't. Had I done more research, I would have found that Stav had climbed the ridge directly with what he called a single class 3 move. We found more than a single move, but it was good scrambling and undoubtedly quicker than Adam's class 2 bypass. We used a convenient ramp on the SE side of the ridge for the second half, getting us to the summit only 15min from the saddle.

We found a register dating to 1998, and views diminished by threatening weather, looking like it might rain almost any time. We could see rain in the distance and watched it grow closer over the next few hours. We reversed our route off Battleship's summit, returning to the first saddle adjacent to the pinnacle. Beyond the pinnacle was Peak 4,100ft, an unnamed summit of minor consequence that we decided to visit since it had sufficient prominence. Though the pinnacle had little prominence, Tom had been eyeing it and would pay a visit while the rest of us traversed around it on the north side. Tom found what appeared to be the only reasonable route on the NE side with some stiff scrambling that he would later rate as class 4 to low fifth. Possibly within my abilities, but not ones I felt like exercising today. We found the ascent of Peak 4,100ft via the route we used to have more class 3 as we worked around the west side before finding a route up to the summit. Now almost 11a, we found no register here and after a short pause, looked to get down before the weather arrived. From the top of Peak 4,100ft, I spied a possible alternate for the descent, utilizing a gully descending from the saddle between Peak 4,100ft and the pinnacle. It wasn't obvious that it would work as there was a good chance we might run into a serious dryfall, but it seemed worth investigating. The others offered no resistance, equally vested in looking for a shortcut. The alternate route worked nicely at class 2-3, rejoining the ascent gully just above the 30-foot dryfall we had ascended earlier. We reversed the class 3 on this, worked our way through a cholla garden to return to Cottonwood Canyon, then back to the Jeep by 12:40p - success! - with only a few droplets of rain. We drove back out to the highway where we collected the rest of our vehicles.

Boundary Cone

Still early, I was hoping to get another peak in, and Boundary Cone seemed the obvious choice. It is a stunning feature south of the touristy town of Oatman, just off the Oatman Highway (old Route 66). Purcell had given this four stars for route-finding challenges and class 3 scrambling on decent rock, a classic by his standards. By the time we had found a suitable starting point, the weather had settled into a steady drizzle that discouraged all but Tom and I. We weren't sure ourselves that it was a smart idea to climb a class 3 volcanic plug in wet conditions, but with such a short approach we figured we could abort quickly if needed should the weather really break loose. We climbed the class 2 lower slopes to gain the West Ridge and the start of the scrambling, all of the rock wet, some of it slippery. We found the route-finding challenges described by Purcell had been reduced to following a series of ducks and ill-considered, painted white crosses left by a visitor since the description was written. Sad, mostly, and the slow rain didn't help much. We spent about 50min to reach the summit, the rain never letting up, but not getting worse save for a few short spurts. There was a large ammo box at the top filled with entries, a local favorite it seems, but I don't recall if we bothered signing it. Views were pretty much non-existent. I put my camera away at this point to keep it from getting ruined by the moisture now permeating everything. We returned in a similar amount of time to rejoin our friends back at the vehicles, but there wasn't much satisfaction in the success - better weather would probably have helped overcome the annoyance of the graffiti masquerading as helpful aids.

We ended up camping off the east side of Oatman Hwy a few miles south of Boundary Cone, on BLM lands regularly used for this purpose. We ended up huddled in our camp chairs under the awning on Jim's RV, watching the rain come down harder, on and off. It was probably the most rain I've seen in the desert on any previous trip (mind you, I'm not in the desert during summertime and miss the occasional torrential thunderstorms at that time). There would be no campfire tonight and we would go off to sleep in our various vehicles earlier than usual...

Continued...


Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Sun Dec 26 17:03:35 2021
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: snwbord@hotmail.com