Marble Peak ex-DS
Fonts Point 2x P300 ex-SDC
Inspiration Point 2x
Metate Hill

Thu, Feb 21, 2019

With: Karl Fieberling
Patrick O'Neill

Marble Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profile
Fonts Point previously climbed Tue, Apr 7, 2015
Inspiration Point previously climbed Wed, Feb 20, 2019


There was no escaping the storm spreading over the Southland, not even in the Anza-Borrego desert as one might hope. Still, we managed pretty well with some luck. We did the long hike in the morning to Marble Peak where we were buffeted by strong winds and some snow, but no rain. In the afternoon, back on the desert floor, the rain was heavier, but we managed to do a handful of easy summits, mostly drive-ups, that we did in between rain bursts. We had a a very civilized dinner at the Borrego Golf Resort, watching it rain outside and glad to be warm and dry inside.

Marble Peak

This is a very obscure summit in the Santa Rosa Mtns that has little prominence, but a lot of elevation gain to get to it. It is found in the first edition of Zdon's Desert Summit but was subsequently dropped in the second edition - evidently even Zdon thought it too insignificant. It is located south and below Rosa Point, overlooking the Palo Alto Wash. We started from S-22 at 7:20a, making our way up Palo Alto Wash, pretty much following Zdon's route description. The walking in the wash is fairly easy until one reaches a difficult impasse about 3mi up the wash. Before reaching it, one needs to climb out onto the ridge to the left. There is a convenient access point that has a very decent use trail going up to the ridge. The use trail continues up the ridge for most of the way to Rosa Point. It goes through some pretty but dangerous cholla gardens where one needs to watch foot placements carefully so as not to pick up unwanted hitchhikers. About 2/3mi from Marble Peak, it is necessary to drop off the ridge back into the wash on the right briefly in order to climb up to Marble from the southwest side. It was nearly 10:15a when we reached the summit, about 3 hours' effort. It was blowing hard and had just started snowing in earnest when we reached it. Views were mostly non-existent as we found ourselves in the clouds at this elevation. We tried to take a break out of the wind on one side, but it seemed to do little good and we grew cold before long. We signed a rather battered register in a broken plastic tub, hurriedly wrapping it back up before heading down as our fingers grew numb. Things improved as we dropped lower and it became more manageable. We descended the same ridge all the way to the desert floor, avoiding Palo Alto Wash so we could tag a few minor bumps lower on the ridge found on PB. We finished up back at S-22 shortly before 1:30p, plenty of daylight remaining but the weather more threatening.

Fonts Point/Inspiration Point

We needed some way to spend the afternoon without getting too wet as the rain began more earnestly on the desert floor. I had been to both of these, including a visit to Inspiration Point just the previous day, but since the others had never been to Fonts Point, I suggested we check it out. It's a very unassumming point from the north as one drive several miles up a sandy wash. The views from the top looking south into the Borrego Badlands are quite impressive and both Karl and Patrick remarked how unexpected the view was. On the drive back out, we stopped when we were about 1/3mi from Inspiration Point and walked out to that point, a bit lower and with similar views.

Metate Hill/Woods BM

Lastly, we sought out the summit of the very unimpressive Metate Hill. Our first effort at a bend in the road on S-22 got us to a landfill with no way to get across the desert due to a gate and private property signs. We found another way from the southwest that worked to get us within about 400ft of the summit, traveling along rough sand roads through desert flats and what seemed like spooky desert forest (a fire had ravaged the wash trees, making it look unusually dark). The hill itself isn't more than about 10ft high and how it got on the USGS maps is a bit of a mystery. Having so much fun just trying to find this one, we made a similar effort to find our way to Woods BM. This one was a drive up, though we did have to trespass through the airport community just to the north. Woods BM is at least more hill-like than Metate Hill, but it has less than 10ft of prominence.

Finishing up by 4p, we went about taking showers using Patrick's new hot shower setup, complete with instant-on water heater, a small pump with a seven gallon reservoir, a propane tank to fuel the water heater and a pop-up privacy shower. It was raining lightly during most of this operation, but the trial was successful - nice hot showers on a rather cold day. After packing it all away, we drove into Borrego Springs where we got dinner at one of the golf course restaurants. We considered it a good day and felt quite lucky that our morning hike worked so nicely with the rough weather. The forecast has more wind for the next day but sunny conditions. A most welcome break after the past few days...


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