Cupcake Mountain P500
Porthole Mountain P500
Peak 2,712ft P500
Peak 1,660ft P500
Peak 1,610ft P300
Peak 1,140ft

May 1, 2018
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPXs: 1 2 3 Profiles: 1 2 3


I spent the night camped in the Jeep on the outskirts of Parker, AZ, with plans to do some scrambling in the Whipple Mtns in the morning. My choice of campsite could have been better. It was on a dirt road away from town, but within striking distance of the Parker Airport beacon. The rotating green & white light would shine into the van every few seconds, though luckily not that brightly - I was too tired when I bedded down to go find a more suitable spot. In the morning I was up before 6a, got breakfast at Jack in the Box and headed into the Whipple Mtns. My route took me across Parker Dam and then north on the paved road towards Black Meadow Landing. I turned off on the dirt road towards Havasu Palms, then the utility road heading northwest into the Whipple Mtns on the edge of the Whipple Mtns Wilderness. It took almost an hour to make the drive, getting me started hiking by 7a. The skies were overcast today with haze making for poor views and photos, but at least the temperature was nice for hiking, in the 60s. The peaks on the east side of the Whipple Mtns are very different from the rest of the range. Though not as high, the area is quite striking with volcanic rock sculpted into steeply sided summits and towering rock pinnacles, some of the finest desert scrambling to be found in CA.

Cupcake Mtn / Porthole Mtn / Peak 2,712ft

Cupcake Mtn gets its name from the view from Lake Havasu City, to the north across the Colorado River. A rare dusting of snow on the summit gives the appearance of frosting atop a cupcake. There is a 2mi trail from the utility road to the summit, the only trail in the Whipple Mtns Wilderness. I took about an hour to follow the trail, going around the west side of a lesser summit that blocks views of Cupcake Mtn from the TH, through cholla gardens and then steeply up through the breaks in the cliffs that surround the summit on the north side. The summit "features" half a dozen rock wind breaks, suggesting it's a popular overnight camp spot. I didn't find a register but didn't think leaving one was a good idea on a popular peak - it seems to get advertised as something to do while visiting Lake Havasu City.

I headed off the southeast side of the summit, finding no cliffs in that direction and a fairly easy exit off Cupcake Mtn, though lots of cacti dodging. The next peak was one and a quarter miles to the south and it took an hour to travel between the two. A small register was left by Adam Walker at the summit, dubbing the summit "Porthole Mtn", for the rather large hole in the mountain a quarter mile to the southeast. There was a large, white/blue object parked at the opening, so after leaving a better register, I went over to check out the portal. It was probably 12-15ft in height and width. The manmade object turned out to be a water cache left years ago by the LADWP. There's probably five gallons left in a 25gal drum, slowly evaporating through a small hole in the top. After this small diversion, I headed off the north side of Porthole Mtn, making my way down to the drainage between it and the next summit, Peak 2,712ft. This, too, was easy scrambling, going up the south side without significant cliffs to worry about, the summit reached about an hour after leaving the porthole. Finding no register on this summit, I left one before heading down. I tried to exit off the northeast side, but cliffs blocked any exit west or north, leaving me to partly descend back down the south side before working my way around to the saddle with Cupcake Mtn. I used various burro/sheep trails to traverse around the northeast side of Cupcake Mtn to reconnect with the regular trail that I could then follow back to the TH. I was surprised that I had so few troubles with cliffs, though I still spent more than 5hrs covering 8.5mi, almost half of that on trail.

Peak 1,660ft / Peak 1,610ft

These two are located on opposite sides of the road, about a mile east of the Cupcake Mtn TH. I parked at the saddle between the two summits and tagged each from there. I spooked a small herd of bighorn sheep on my way up Peak 1,660ft on the north side of the road. They gathered together when they saw me, then watched me for about five minutes as I climbed well to the side of them, eventually running off down the mountain after I'd gotten above them. I counted two rams, three ewes, and a youngster. The scrambling was pretty easy, taking only 20min. Nice views of the river and Lake Havasu City from the summit. I found no register and left none (a little too close to the road to be worthy, I thought. After returning back down to the Jeep at the saddle, I hiked up to Peak 1,610ft on the south side, finding a decent burro trail for about half the distance. The upper part of the mountain featured some really fun scrambling on the NW Ridge, the best of the day. I left a register here, judging it worthy.

Peak 1,410ft

This last summit had the least prominence and least elevation gain to reach. Despite this, it looks imposing from the start and even more so from the north where I scrambled up to the base of cliffs that surround it. The east and south sides are similarly insurmountable, but the west side presents some weaknesses, including an easy class 2 gully that I discovered on the way down. The summit features about half a dozen different arches that are pretty cool. The highpoint actually sits atop one of the arches, the rock only a bout a foot thick at this point. I thought this one deserving of a register too, so I left one before heading back down. I spent about 45min on the roundtrip effort, finishing just before 3p. That seemed like enough for the day, so after showering I headed back to Parker for the evening.


Adam Walker comments on 05/05/18:
Glad to see you left a register on Peak 2712. I only carried two the day I was out there.
You need to find something better than a Tums container. ;-)
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