Impassable Rocks P300 CC
Chamberlain Ridge P500

Sat, Feb 22, 2020
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profiles: 1 2

With my wife out of town, there seemed little reason to hang around home for the weekend. I didn't really come up with a plan until Friday night, so I got up at 2:30a to make the long drive north to Mendocino County for a CC-listed summit. This allowed me to drive through San Francisco with the absolute minimal traffic, which was nice compensation for the loss of sleep.

Impassable Rocks

This summit is located on private property in the Coast Ranges west of US101, between Ukiah and Willits. The best way to reach this and nearby Williams Peak is to book one of the cabins at Leonard Lake Preserve. This allows one access to the route first used by Sean Casserly and Daryn Dodge back in December of last year. There is a locked gate some miles down the access road (Reeves Rd) that makes it impractical otherwise. I had joined Sean and Daryn for the climb of Williams Peak earlier in the month, so I was back on my own for Impassable Rocks. I used their GPX track for the most part, the first half of the route matching the route we used to Williams Peak. The route starts down an old logging road that has been partially cleared for foot traffic. It descends the Rice Creek drainage down to the lowpoint at its junction with Big Creek. Here the route turns north as it slowly makes its way up the Big Creek drainage, following other old logging roads in various stages of being weakly maintained or abandoned altogether. The route then turns northeast at a creek junction, leaving the better roads for worse ones, hard to follow and eventually lost completely. Though quite a steep ascent, the forest understory is fairly clear to allow decent cross-country travel. There is some poison oak found at various places but mostly easy to avoid. There were no leaves on the branches at this time of year, making it a little tricky to figure out what was poison oak (I simply avoid any live, light-brown branches and vines found) Most of the forest in the lower reaches is composed of second growth redwoods, turning to oaks and madrone in the warmer and drier upper elevations. One doesn't actually get to see the summit until within a few minutes of it, thanks to heavy forest cover. It took me about 3.5hrs to reach the highpoint, open to fine views in all directions. Williams Peak stands out conspicuously to the west, and the slightly higher Irene Peaks to the northwest. The latter has more than 900ft of prominence and high on my interest list, but the 1.7mi distance (as the crow flies) dissuaded me from trying it with Impassable Rocks. Daryn had left a register at the summit and it was no surprise that mine was only the second entry - not an easy peak to get to, and the list of peakbaggers interested in going through the trouble to get here is short. My return proved no faster, taking about the same time - guess I was a bit tired on that last climb back up the Rice Creek drainage. Still, not so tired that I was ready to call it a day.

Chamberlain Ridge

I had another three hours or so of daylight, so I headed to Jackson State Forest off SR20 west of Willits. I intended to climb the forest highpoint but failed to identify the correct point. Chamberlain Ridge is the second highest summit, and to add a little insult, it's also the second most prominent - so I got neither the highpoint nor the prominence point. Oh well. There is a decent dirt road that can be accessed off the north side of SR20 about 9mi west of Willits. The road drops to James Creek before starting a slow climb to Three Chop Ridge. I tried various forks to access Chamberlain Ridge more directly, but the roads were either too overgrown or gated, or both. The road I followed ended abruptly just before the ridge at a locked gate. At this point I was about 1.5mi from the summit, so I just hoofed it on foot. There is a very good logging road along Three Chop Ridge, but I don't know if it can be accessed by the public in vehicles. I walked this road to the the junction of Three Chop and Chamberlain Ridges, then followed a gated lesser road back inside the state forest to a point just a few hundred feet below the summit. Easy cross-country leads to the forested summit with no views. Can't say there's much to recommend this one other than 500ft+ of prominence, if that matters to you.

Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Sat Feb 22 19:47:20 2020
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: snwbord@hotmail.com