Drum Peak P300
Peak 6,676ft P300
Peak 4,632ft P300
Peak 4,140ft
Peak 3,959ft P300

Apr 14, 2023
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profile


My third day in the New York Mountains had me camped at the end of a spur road on the southeast side of Drum Peak. After a pretty challenging day yesterday, I was moving a little slower today. I had come to the range because it is one of the higher ones in Mojave and would give me cooler temps than those found at the lower elevations. This worked nicely to avoid the seasonally warmer termperatures, but the terrain at the higher elevations was more crowded with vegetation and seemed to have lots of large granite boulders.

Drum Peak

This was the hardest summit of the day due to a great deal of rock on the ascent route. Candance Skalet had a TR on PB along with a gpx track that I mostly followed, based on her recommendation that the route "was not bad." After climbing it, I didn't think it was good, either. It starts out following the remnants of an old road, now part of the Wilderness, but this peters out pretty quickly. One is then left crossing in and out of a few minor drainages that are filled with much granite rock. Lots of scrambling in these lower parts until one can actually get on the SE Slopes leading up to Drum Peak. As Candace says, there is "some brush to deal with," but it's not exactly an ordeal. It just takes a long time to work through, gaining almost 1,500ft in the process over a little more than a mile. There is a bit more scrambling along the ridge just below the summit, nothing more than easy class 3. I spent an hour and a half in reaching the top, not at all enamoured by the route. There was an older Smatko register from 1973 in a small blue plastic pill bottle, surprisingly still intact. It had three pages of entries until Mark Adrian arrived in 2000 to leave a larger notepad and more protective storage. His had 8 pages of entries (including a return in 2021), making for a rather popular summit, only because it is named, far as I could tell. I had been looking for an alternate route off the east side during the ascent along the summit ridge, spying what looked like a more grassy (and less bouldery) slope heading down that direction. I had some easy scrambling getting off the summit to the north and then down the steepest part of the slope to start with, but it eventually settled into a more relaxing style of terrain. There was more brush in the lower third, but with careful tacking and route-finding, I had no real bushwhacking at all, and none of the granite boulders I'd had on the ascent. I thought it a much better route, albeit slightly longer, but then I might have been lulled by the downward direction of travel in arriving at my assessment.

Peak 6,676ft

Back to the Jeep by 9:20a, I spent the next 40min driving back out to New York Mtn Rd, west a few miles and then a long spur road heading back north into the range. Peak 6,676ft is the westernmost summit in the range, and though well over 6,000ft, it didn't have the same amount of vegetation that the range's other high summits had. Several miles short of my driving goal, I came across a gate with a handful of signs indicating I was unwelcome on the other side. This is one of a number of inholdings within the preserve, with access and public right-of-way rather hazy. Getting out, I found the gate unlocked, in fact there are no locks to be found, just a simple latch. I didn't know if this was legitimately closed to the public or some overzealous property owners trying to discourage riff-raff in a not-so-legal way. I know that the Park Service map shows this spur, so suspected the latter. I decided to drive in and see what happens, the basic plan being to beg forgiveness and ignorance if confronted.

As it turns out, nothing happened. I drove by about a dozen different properties, none of which seemed to have a resident on-site. The road is well-traveled, but the properties are not regularly occupied, it would seem. I saw no dogs, no persons, no vehicles that weren't abandoned. A few decently maintained properties, but most looked rather tired. The last half mile of road is rougher, high-clearance needed. I drove to the end on the south side of the peak, stopping at the Wilderness boundary where the usual signs are found. From here, it's about a mile each way, most of which can be done by following the old mining road that climbs high on this side of the mountain. I used a combination of road and cross-country (to bypass some of the road's switchbacks) to reach the summit in less than 45min. The upper slopes were a bit rocky, but nothing like that found on Drum and the other high summits of the range. Views stretch far to P38>the north across Ivanpah Valley, into Nevada as far as Mt. Charleston, still covered in snow. The New York Mtns highpoint is seen in profile to the east. Smatko and Lilley had climbed Peak 6,676ft together in 1977, but I found no sign of a register. I added their names to one I left before heading down. My return was much the same route, with slight variations that proved no better or worse than the ascent. I was back before 11:30a with more than half the day remaining.

Peak 4,632ft - Peak 4,140ft

I spent the next hour and change driving back out of the NY Mtns and through the Mid Hills, a collection of lower summits between the NY Mtns to the NE and the Providence Mtns to the SW. These two summits are the southernmost in the Mid Hills, and the last two summits I had to visit there. From paved Keslo Cima Rd, I turned off on dirt Macedonia Canyon Rd, finding the crux of the drive is getting under the RR tracks. The bridge isn't very high and the wash that flows under it here is very sandy - 4WD recommended. I then drove about three miles up the road, parking at a junction with an old road, now part of the Wilderness. The old road leads to Peak 4,140ft, and I planned to use this for the return at the end of a 4.5mi loop. I wanted to tackle the higher summit first, some 2mi NNE of my starting point. Most of this distance was across the relatively flat terrain along the base of the range, but like the nearby Providence Mtns, this area has much cacti and quite a bit of brush - not enough to make it a bushwhack, but enough to keep me constantly dodging to one side or the other as I tried to make as straight a line as I could toward my target. I passed by a couple of impressive-looking towers on my right that I had initially mistaken for the peak. They looked to be at least class 3 from the easier angles I viewed later, but possibly much harder. It took me most of an hour to reach the base of Peak 4,632ft which also looked to be class 3 from afar. I worked my way upslope to the base of a gully on the south side that looked to offer the easiest way up. It proved to be no more than class 2-3, keeping to the right side of the gully and taking me nicely right up to the rocky summit. A few stones had been left on the highest rock, but I found no sign of a register. I left the last one I had with me on this trip at the summit before reversing my way off the south and southeast side of the peak.

I next began a beeline across the flats to the lower Peak 4,140ft, about 1.2mi to the SW. Again, there was much weaving around brush and cacti, but as I was going against the grain, I was thankful there wwere only minor undulations in the terrain I was crossing. Upon reaching the base of Peak 4,140ft, I found the ascent easier than the previous peak, with both less elevation and all class 2. I took just about an hour between the two summits. The last leg was about as easy as I expected - the old road was clearly visible as I descended Peak 4,140ft, and following it back to the Jeep took less than half an hour from the last summit, a little under three hours for the whole outing.

Peak 3,959ft

This last summit is located in the foothills of the Providence Mtns. I drove back out to Kelso Cima Rd, then 4-5mi southwest to an unsigned spur going over the RR tracks at an uncontrolled crossing. On the other side, the road splits into several forks. The one forking south is the least-used and is hard to spot. The road is bumpy as it goes against the grain, eventually becoming better when it turns to the southeast and can then be followed for 3-4mi on a cherry stem into the Wilderness. The road ends at a wash that flows west along the south side of the peak. It is about a mile to the summit from here, an easy, pleasant hike along a low ridgeline. The ridgeline eventually joins the peak's West Ridge where some class 2-3 scrambling on limestone is found. Once on the summit ridge, it is still about a quarter mile to the highpoint which is an indistinct point somewhere along the rounded ridgeline. There is a fantastic view of Mitchell Peak to the south. I went back the same way, taking a little over an hour for the roundtrip.

I had finished by 5:30p, still with a few hours of daylight, but little energy. I had also run out of objectives for which I'd done some research, so I would have to wing it from here. I settled on doing Flynn BM, about 7mi west of Kelso in the Devils Playground, the next morning. I started driving on the RR service road out Kelso (signed for No Trespassing), but came to an abrupt stop about 4mi in - seems the RR folks are doing some work here and had the road blocked and lots of equipment lying about - no sign of anyone at the worksite, but they'd probably already knocked off for the day. I decided this would be better done at a future date with more planning. I drove back out to Kelbaker Rd and then north for about half the distance to Baker before I pulled off a side road to spend the night. I decided to call a halt to the climbing and headed for home in the morning. It was getting a bit warm out here in the desert, and this just might be my last visit for the season...

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This page last updated: Thu Apr 20 09:26:40 2023
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