Kofa Butte P900 RS
Peak 2,487ft P300
Peak 2,620ft P500
Peak 2,340ft P300
Yellowfin P300 RS
Peak 2,383ft P300

Sun, Dec 11, 2022
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profiles: 1 2


Day four in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge found me alone in the Kofa Mtns, friends having taken off the previous afternoon. The main objective today was Kofa Butte, but I would get five other summits on a rather full day. Peak 2,340ft proved to be the most challenging of the day and great fun.

Kofa Butte

Most of Kofa Butte is surrounded by significant cliffs. The standard routes start from the end of the road in Yaqui Wash, either going up a class 2-3 gully on the north side (shorter) or the class 2 wider drainage on the east side. I took the shorter route. There is much brush found there, but one can find class 3 options to bypass most of it. Before getting to the end of the gully, one climbs out to the left to find a short class 2-3 chute leading to the summit plateau. I decided to check at the direct exit at the end of the gully. This was a spicy class 4 effort for about 20ft up a chimney with poor rock quality. The saving grace was that the chimney felt relatively safe and the darker rock in the upper half is far more solid just when it's needed. Once on the plateau, it's a longish walk to the south end of the butte where the highpoint is located. I visited the lower NW summit first before discovering the higher point to the SE.

A very busy register was placed by a Barbara Lilley party in 1982. She came back two years later with another Sierra Club party that included Gordon MacLeod and other notables. On the way back I took the class 2-3 chute from the plateau to regain the class 2-3 gully. In all I spent a little over 3hrs covering the 3.5mi with about 1,600ft of gain.

Peak 2,487ft - Peak 2,620ft - Peak 2,340ft

These three minor summits are located to the west of Kofa Butte. I reparked the Jeep back at the campsite used for the last three nights and started from there. The first two summits were standard class 2 desert fare. I went up the SE Ridge of Peak 2,487ft to the summit, then along the connecting ridgeline to Peak 2,620ft. Both summits were visited by Barbara/Gordon in 1997. They left the register on the first summit, but Art Tauche had left the one on Peak 2,620ft in 1990. I then dropped off the north side of the second summit to make my way to the far more impressive Peak 2,340ft.

I had gotten a good view of the south and east sides of Peak 2,340ft while I was climbing Kofa Butte. It looked exceedingly hard. I chose to do this 3 summit loop in the order I did so that I could approach Peak 2,340ft from the southwest and west to see if there were better options there. Things looked difficult on that side as well. I climbed a class 2 slope to a saddle between the main peak and a detached pinnacle to the west. On the other side, I found a class 2-3 gully that nicely led south and east up to what I thought was the summit, the point identified on LoJ as the highpoint. It turned out to be a lower west summit with a very deep, vertical gap separating it from the higher east summit. Where I'd thought I'd discovered the key to the summit, I was left dejected. I descended a steep chute to the north, adjacent to the lower west summit. This led me around the north side of the peak where I found steep faces and narrow gullies that looked to go vertical near their top. It's possible one of these might work as a scramble route, but it looked too dicey for my taste from below. I continued around the north and northeast sides, eventually finding the northeast side has steep but more reasonable facets with some potential. I climbed up class 2 slopes about halfway up before things got harder. I left my poles and entered a class 4 chimney/gully with decently solid rock to chimney my way up it. This was followed by ledges and short faces, none harder than solid class 3, leading all the way to the summit. I was elated to find a way up this one, and excited to find a register with only a single entry - from 2001. A very fine summit, this one. I reversed the route back down to the poles, then continued traversing around the east side (finding a cool arch) and down a chute to the desert flats below on the SE side. It was 3p by the time I got back to the Jeep and I half expected it to be the end of the day. I still had an hour of driving to get back out of King Valley and back to the highway.


I enjoyed the two beer drive back out of King Valley. When I got in the vicinity of Yellowfin and found it only a half mile from the roadway, I decided to pay it a visit. The summit is found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles, so it had been on my radar. Purcell describes a route around the back side from the saddle east of the summit, and it was to this I initially headed. As I got close to the saddle, my attention turned to the South Face and I suspected I could find a scramble route up that side. There is a wide, sloping ledge about halfway up with some airy class 3 to reach it. After managing this little problem, an easy walk to the left end of the ledge leads to some easy class 3 and the exit onto the very summit, taking all of 20min. I did not find the register Purcell had described finding. I looked for other routes off the north and west sides, but all looked too cliffy - might require a few more beers to find a scramble route there. I ended up descending Purcell's route back to the east side saddle and then back to the Jeep.

Peak 2,383ft

This is another short scramble less than half a mile from the road. It was 5:00p when I set out, only half an hour until sunset. This one makes for a better scramble than Yellowfin because it has decent rock almost the whole way up, as opposed to the 3-4min's worth on Yellowfin. With overcast skies from a weakening storm passing across the state, the sun managed to come out very briefly before disappearing for good, leaving me with a late-afternoon view to the south, and east into King Valley. It took about 25min to reach the summit where I found a busy register left by Gordon and Barbara in 1994. Too many pages to photograph and I needed to get down while I still could see well enough on the class 3 terrain. It was 5:25p when I finished up, only minutes to sunset (though that was moot since it had disappeared behind clouds long ago). A pretty full day...


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