Easy Bake Peak P300
Peak 1,260ft
Peak 1,540ft P300
Scone Peak P300

Sat, Dec 11, 2021

With: Eric Smith
Tom Grundy
Iris Ma
Chris Kerth
Jim Burd
Tom Becht

Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

Continued...

The Whipple Mtns are one of my favorite desert ranges in California, perhaps only surpassed by the Coxcomb Mtns in Joshua Tree. It's really the eastern part of the Whipples that I enjoy so much, an area of dark volcanic plugs that offer some high-quality scrambling with tricky, sometimes improbably route-finding. The area is completely ignored in Zdon's Desert Summits and Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles, almost inexplicably. It has gotten more attention over the past six years as I've made repeated visits to the area, never disappointed. Today was the first of three that our sizeable group would spend here. In three Jeeps, we drove Trail End Camp Rd to its junction with Whipple Wash, then about a mile to the southwest up the wash. It's not shown on the topo map, but the wash is an OHV corridor connecting Trail End Camp Rd to a utility road on the edge of the Whipple Mtns Wilderness. Our parking location put us inside a circle of seven peaks around this part of Whipple Wash. I had been to four of these, but the others had been to none of them. We would end up doing the first peak together, then split up in smaller groups afterwards.

Easy Bake Peak

The first documented climb of this summit was by Stav Basis in 2020. He bestowed the name when he posted it on PB, presumeably in keeping with the baking theme surrounding Cupcake Peak, the only officially named summit in the area (he had also visited on a warm day in April, reporting that they were quickly cooked). We didn't actually have his track with us when we started out, of if we did it seems we ignored it, as we sought out a route from the south based on our visual inspection of the cliff faces. It was 7:30a when we headed out, and after a short stint in a side wash, we started up the steep slopes, running into some class 3 slabs almost immediately. Past this, the route becomes easier as we landed on the South Ridge which we hoped to follow to the summit. There were obstacles along it, forcing us onto easier ground on the class 2 east side in places, but where we could stay on the ridge it proved to be fun class 3 scrambling. Not far from the summit we spotted a lone bighorn ram on the slopes ahead of us. It first made a move to the west, but after peering over the edge, decided against that direction and backtracked to the east and south to make a run around our party. He stopped often to watch our progress, giving us ample opportunities to get photos. Our group arrived at the summit before the first hour had elapsed, finding a large cairn (certainly not erected by Stav and his companion that day) and sweeping views across the Colorado River and Lake Havasu. The other two peaks in the area were on either side of us, west and east, but unfortunately there were no connecting ridgelines between them to make things easier - we would have to descend all the way back down to Whipple Wash before climbing them in turn. We left a register in the cairn before starting our descent, this time using the easier route that Stav had found on the east side of the South Ridge. This was class 2 nearly its entire length, eventually depositing us in Whipple Wash below our vehicles.

Peak 1,260ft

This is the lower summit southeast of Easy Bake. It looks difficult from most sides, though Chris believed he'd spied a usable route up the east side. On our way down the previous peak, I had spied several possibilities on the northwest side that I thought would be worth checking out. TomG and Chris had run off to do Peak 1,540ft next, saving Peak 1,260ft for the end of their long day. Jim decided he'd had enough peaks for one day and went off to hike some miles in Whipple Wash. That left Eric, Iris and TomB with me for this one. Eric and Iris were fine with whatever route we tried, but the ever-skeptical TomB was not easily persuaded. Still, he was willing to give it a try, so there was that - along with the unstated understanding that he could complain as much as he liked if it didn't work out. Fortunately for all of us, it did. The only real difficultly was finding the gully I had spied from above. Down in Whipple Wash, the gullies on this side cannot be seen, mostly just lots of cliffs. Once we had climbed the first hundred feet followed by a long traverse to the right, I recognized the gully above us as one of the promising ones. This was a class 2-3 effort that was fairly enjoyable, such that even TomB found little to complain about. Our route went went over a slightly lower false summit with a cruxy downclimb between it and the highpoint, though still class 3. We spent about 50min on the ascent, happy to find our route worked nicely. We had told Chris we'd text him if our route worked since he and TomG might be able to use it at the end of their circuit. To make it easier, Eric posted his track to the PB app, which Chris was then able to download for use later (and in fact, they did use it and found it most helpful, knowing ahead of time the route would work). After leaving a second register, we retraced our route back down the same gully, returning to Whipple wash shortly after 11a.

Peak 1,540ft

We walked back up the wash to our vehicles, then headed northwest up to Peak 1,540ft, about 2/3mi away. This was the easiest peak of the day, all class 2, no tricky route-finding. It would take us only about 30min to reach the summit, with views similar to those found on Easy Bake. Now noon and warmer than it had been earlier, we took a long break atop this open summit, enjoying the views and devising a plan for the rest of the afternoon.

Scone Peak

Upon our return back to the Jeeps, we found Jim hanging out. He originally suggested he would walk back to his RV about six miles away, but settled on a walk up and back down Whipple Wash. I suggested he might want to join Iris and TomB on a climb to Cupcake Mtn since it was all on trail. He agreed, and headed off with them in TomB's Jeep while Eric and I headed out in mine for Scone Peak. This wasn't the bonus peak I had in mind at the start of the day, but upon finding we could drive in parts of Whipple Wash, I thought this one might be a better choice. It is located just inside the Wilderness boundary, though it wasn't obvious where that boundary is - we found no signs or other indications when we crossed the utility road further up the wash, so continued driving until we ran out of tracks and driveable wash. Later we found this was about a mile inside the Wilderness - oops. Eric was done for the day, so I left him reading in a camp chair while I went in search of some solo adventure.

Our parking spot in the wash was less than 1/3mi from the summit, but it would prove to be about 2mi each way to the summit. The north and east sides have huge cliffs not to be triffled with. I had hoped to be able to use a gully on the east side that looked promising on the topo map, but I could see no way to overcome what looked like huge cliffs halfway up the face. There might be a way up from this side if someone were to spend the time looking, but I was looking for more of a sure thing. I continued up the wash for half an hour until I was around to the south side, finally finding what looked like a slope that would work. The lower half was standard class 2 desert fare, but the upper half had more imposing cliffs. I spied what looked like a class 2-3 ledge/ramp leading left around the corner that I hoped would work to get me past the cliffs. after climbing the easy slopes in about 15min, I looked right (it looked hard that way) before turning left onto the easier ramp heading west. This took me around to the southwest side of the peak and easier ground as I passed through a high saddle. It was here that I could see the summit almost half a mile away, across a broad gully draining to the east. The terrain was somewhat complicated and I could see that I would never make it back in the hour and a half I told Eric to expect me. I had to drop 400ft to cross the drainage, then traversing slopes to the northeast, then finding yet another drainage separating me from my goal. The terrain was all class 2, but not the easiest and the going was seemed slow. I would eventually reach the summit at 3p, an hour and a half after starting out - I would be very late, and worried that Eric might become overly concerned. A text would be able to reach him if he was high on the mountain, but there was no cell service down in the wash where we parked.

There was a large cairn at the summit - clearly I wasn't the first here, even though there were no recorded online ascents. I found no register, but left oneon what seemed a worthy summit. Looking over the edge to the northeast, I could see Eric sitting in the chair almost 1,200ft below, now in the shade of the late afternoon sun. I shouted to draw attention, and was happy to see him look up and wave back - at least he would now know not to expect me back anytime soon. On the return, I followed a higher path to the west and then south to avoid the drop into the larger drainage. I doubt all the traversing saved me any time, but I was happy that it worked without any real trouble. After returning back through the saddle and then along the class 2 ramp, I decided to continue east along the base of the cliffs for a shortcut of sorts back into Whipple Wash on the east side of the peak. Again, I don't know if it saved any time, but this had more interesting class 2-3 terrain that I preferred overthe standard talus slope and wash. The last sun was gone from the surrounding rock faces before I reached the wash, and it would be after 4:30p before I had returned to the Jeep.

Eric had grown cold by this time as the temperature dropped steadily with the setting sun, and was happy to be able to warm up in the Jeep on our drive back out. We turned right onto the utility road and followed that back out to Trail End Camp Rd and eventually our other vehicles at camp from the previous evening. I was a little surprised to see that the folks who'd gone to Cupcake Mtn weren't back yet. Neither were Chris and TomG, though that was more or less expected. I dropped Eric off at the old camp and went to take a cold-ish shower across the road. Afterwards, we would head out for our new campsite in Bowman Wash. The others returned not long after we had departed, and within an hour we had our vehicles moved to Bowman Wash where we had dinner and a nice campfire. More fun in the Whipple was planned for the next day...

Continued...


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