Kelbaholt Peak P300
Peak 3,687ft P900
Fools Point P300 LLT
Peak 3,336ft P300

Sat, Apr 11, 2020

With: Tom Becht

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile


I had been intrigued by one of Adam Walker's trip reports that I'd stumbled across in semi-random fashion. Part of a 20 peaks in 6 days effort back in 2019, he had described a tricky attempt on Kelbaholt Peak, a name I'd never heard before. It is located in the northern part of the Turtle Mtns that I had visited a few years earlier. Like me, Adam had been there mainly to tag Carson BM, a P1K. I recalled walking up a broad wash and noticing some impressive-looking crags on both sides of the small valley. Kelbaholt was one of these, unofficially named. More research found that it had seen a number of ascents by DPS folks in the late 1970s through early 1990s, then went mostly quiet. The name comes from the combination of three ascentionists from 1927 that had left a type-written note at the summit. This and other summits are easily visible for much of the drive in. Wondering which other points we might be able to climb in the area, Tom and I planned to spend a day exploring the possibilities. We found some really great scrambling and exploring, some of the best days either of us had spent in the California desert.

Kelbaholt Peak

The peaks described here all lay inside the Turtle Mtns Wilderness, but just to the east is the location of Charley Brown's Lost Arch Inn, a semi-popular 4WD touring area. The "inn" was a cabin built by Brown and his partner who worked the Lost Arch Mine starting in 1922. Brown welcomed visitors in his later years to his cabin, dying here in 1948. The cabin walls have collapsed, leaving a roof and lots of rusting artifacts strewn about the place. A collection of rusting car bodies were rounded up by the BLM when the Wilderness was created in 1994 and placed in the "Car Corral" nearby. Any vehicle with moderately high-clearance can reach the spot. 4WD vehicles can drive several lesser roads along the Wilderness boundary, a short distance away. We parked at the closest TH about a mile and a quarter northeast of Kelbaholt and headed out around 7:45a.

It took only seconds for the big accident of the day. While distracted by his phone, Tom attempted to step over the steel cable across the trail at the start that was intended to keep vehicles out. His foot didn't clear it as expected and he immediately went down, face first into the rocky trail. He let out a sharp scream that had me looking back only a fraction of a second after he'd hit the ground. His glasses were off to one side and his face was nuzzled against the trunk of a decaying cactus. I suggested he roll over first before getting up so that I could examine his injuries. He looked pretty good despite the hard fall, so I declared, "Doesn't look bad at all," before snapping a picture before he could stand. He had some minor bleeding on his legs and would complain about bruising on his face later in the day, but it never got discolored and it seemed he got off only a little worse for the wear.

After dusting himself off and recollecting his things, we headed off again, aiming southwest directly for Kelbaholt. It's NE Face looks difficult from a distance and doesn't appear to have many options even as we approached the base (it was only after we got to the summit that we thought to download a GPX track that Tracy Fouts had posted on PB). Our best guess was that the route would go up a narrow gully ramping right to left, found on the left side of the NE Face. We made a somewhat sketchy class 3-4 start to get to the bottom of this gully, only to discover the top portion looked to go nearly vertical and not all that inviting. I suggested checking to the left (south) of this for other options and that turned out to be the key. It led to the far left side of the NE Face where a standard class 3 route presented itself as the only logical option. It turned back to the right where we reached the edge of a cliff, scrambling up through a notch and then up a series of short gullies, well ducked now and not hard to follow. Working our way west up the face, the route then turns south when due north of the highpoint which is out of view for most of the ascent. There is a downclimb of about 100ft on a wide, loose rock ramp to get around difficulties along the North Ridge. One then has several options to climb back up. The easier way we discovered on the descent is to move to the left and climb directly to the summit, all class 2. We chose a route more to the right that returned us to the North Ridge and more difficult scrambling, though not unpleasant. It was a fun, highly enjoyable effort that took us almost two hours to complete, landing us on the summit by 9:30a. I found 1/2 of a nested set of rusty cans about 10ft below the summit, the other tucked under the summit cairn. It's exposed contents consisted of two badly shredded paper scraps, mostly illegible, all that was left of the summit register. This was a little disappointing as I'd held out this vague hope that we might find the original note from 1927. We left a new register while we sat about the summit enjoying our success.

Our high perch among these craggy features was quite satisfying as we considered our next moves. There were other summits looking north, a few of which we knew Adam had climbed already. This was the direction we had originally planned, but as we looked south, there were options there that looked enticing. In particular, Peak 3,687ft which has the same surveyed height as Kelbaholt, looked like it had a viable route up from what we could see. It lies less than half a mile south of Kelbaholt, but the intervening geography is very complicated and it was far from obvious that we could even reach the base of the peak. But it seemed like a fine adventure and we resolved to give it a try.

Peak 3,687ft

We reversed most of our route off Kelbaholt, finding the easier, more direct route in the upper reaches directly down from the summit. Nearing the base of the peak we avoided the sketchier start we'd used in favor of an easier line to the east and southeast. We traversed high along Kelbaholt's East Face, aiming for a steep gully that we believed would lead to a saddle between the two peaks. It was a steep class 3 scramble up a dry wash that kept us guessing constantly as to whether it would go or not. Once at the saddle, there was an easy stretch of class 2 that we followed to the base of Peak 3,687ft that we'd seen from the summit of Kelbaholt. More class 3 scrambling along its North Ridge (easier ground if one stays mostly on east side of ridge) goes over a small arch and onto the summit where we arrived just after noon, elated with our second success. John Vitz had recorded an ascent of this summit in 1980, but finding no register we added his name to a new one we left while we were there.

Fools Point

Our next effort was to the southeast, about 1/3mi in that direction to Peak 3,323ft which we would come to find had been given the name Fools Point. After descending the upper portion of Peak 3,687ft we dropped into a drainage south of the saddle, followed it for a short while, then made our way up to a notch on the main crest northwest of the third summit. The top of the pointy summit looked to be ringed in cliffs and we held out only modest hope of reaching it. From the notch, a loose rock ramp went up most of the way and seemed our only realistic possibility. We figured we had to at least give it a try. The ramp starts off as class 2, becoming class 3 with a few nervy moves to reach its end about 40ft below the summit. It was a dramatic point with cliffs dropping steeply off the east side. There was a class 3-4 crack going up from our point that we could not see from below, renewing hope that the route might work. It was only after I turned to watch Tom join me at the top of the ramp that I noticed a small duck at the point - seems someone saw fit to mark this, boosting our confidence. I was happy to find the crux went easier than I expected and turned to watch Tom and offer support. The rock here was fairly solid unlike most of the route, a fortuitous happenstance. The small summit featured a large cairn. After looking about for a register, I noticed a white-painted rock at the base and removed it to find a white PVC tube behind it. I instantly recognized it as one of the Leaping Lizard Tribe's registers. Based out of Lake Havasu City and headed by Tim O'Connor, the tribe had installed 17 or 18 registers on various summits that can be seen from Lake Havasu City. They all seem to have been placed around the 2002-03 timeframe and so far on the three I've stumbled across, there were no other entries in them save their own. This one had been dubbed "Fool's Point." As part of our social distancing routine, Tom let me handle all the registers, adding his name with my own to keep from sharing pencils and booklets. While I was busy with the registers, Tom would be on his phone adding the ascent to the peakbagger app - mountaineering in the 21st century.

Peak 3,336ft

Our last summit of the day was another 1/3mi southeast of Fools Point, Peak 3,336ft. To reach it, we first descended Fools Point back to the notch on the crest, then traversed high over a saddle on Fools Point's SW Ridge, and then across the drainage between the two summits. There are actually two summits in that direction, the other being the slightly higher Peak 3,339ft to the west. We aimed for the saddle between the two as it looked like the most likely way we could figure to climb Peak 3,336ft. The other summit looked to be extremely difficult, impossible for us, with vertical cliffs rising for more than 100ft on all sides. If there were any unclimbed summits to be found in the California desert, this seemed a likely candidate. Though easier, Peak 3,3336ft was still a good challenge with plenty of class 3 scrambling found on the way to the summit. The topo maps shows a double summit with the northern point being the highest, but it actually has three points along a summit ridgeline, with a middle summit not shown on the topo map's contours. We scrambled up to the point between the middle and south summits, then made our way north to the top of the middle summit. It was here that we noticed a third summit another 100yds further north. Finding no register at the middle summit, we continued on to the north summit where the surveyors had made a spot elevation (1017m). There was no register here either. Tom insisted that the middle summit was higher which I had to agree looked to be the case despite my GPSr showing the north summit 2ft higher. The traverse between the two had been a little tricky and I didn't really want to return to the middle summit, so I left a new register at the north summit.

After returning to the saddle with Peak 3,339ft, we began our return to the TH by descending the SE side of the saddle into the major drainage between our peaks and Carson BM. This easy class 2 route would occupy the last hour or so of our day, following the main wash heading north, then picking up a faint BLM trail that we could mostly follow back to the jeeps. It would be after 5p before we were done and ready to start the recuperation process. We had planned only to spend the one day in this area before heading to the Whipple Mtns, but Tom was quickly receptive to my suggestion that we could spend another day here. This made for a lot less driving. After showering, we settled in at the Lisa Dawn Campground about 3/4mi away, closer to Lost Arch Mine Peak. Though primitive with no water or toilet facilities, it had a covered metal picnic bench and some flat camp spots that we'd have to ourselves, and free, too. A very fine day overall...


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