The Whipple Mtns are one of my favorite desert ranges, one with two distinct
flavors. Most of the area surrounding the range highpoint (the DPS Whipple Mtn)
is granitic in nature and typical class 2 desert scrambling. The more
interesting flavor is the dark volcanic rock that makes up the periphery of
the range, particularly on its eastern side. Here, the scrambling is high
quality class 3, some of the best to be found in the California desert regions.
After an easier day on the western side of the range, we had come to the
eastern side for a bigger challenge, four summits that lie along Bowmans
Wash. We had spent the night camped in the wash, and were up at 6a to start our
day. We left Eric's Rav 4 where we'd camped and drove the Jeep north up the
wash to the first of the peaks.
This summit lies less than half a mile west of Bowmans Wash. Though it makes for
a short outing, it has some challenges. Its is ringed with
cliffs though there appeared from a distance to be several workable routes
through it. We climbed in a fairly direct line towards
, but after covering half the distance and getting
, we found we'd have to
move left to get through a break towards the south end of the summit ridge. We
made an ascending traverse over before scrambling
through the break to reach .
As we popped up onto the
ridge, a trio of sheep were caught off-guard and quickly made an exit, first
up towards the summit, then swiftly
through a part of the
cliff band I didn't think we could manage - the sheep showed little hesitation
and were soon out of sight. We continued up the ridge, finding
, with a final
just below the summit. It took us most
of an hour to reach the top, a most enjoyable effort made even better by
the sheep sighting. We
taking in views of our other summits to , leaving
here before starting down. We reversed our
route down and off ,
then made a variation of the
lower part by circling to the south and
that would take us back to
and our vehicle. 2hrs for the roundtrip effort.
We drove another 10min north up the wash for ,
also found on the
west side of the wash and about a half mile distance. The peak looks similar to
the previous one with a cliff band on the east side, but it had a much more
obvious saddle with
leading to its . The South Ridge
had the best scrambling with on solid rock and
just below the highpoint. We saw no sheep this time, but were
treated to cruising overhead,
oblivious to our toiling on the rocks below.
We spent about 40min to reach the summit and a similar time for the return.
We left before .
Another 10min drive got us to the northwest side of found
on the east side of the wash, about 1/3mi distance.
I had first noted this summit in 2015
when I was climbing Copper Mtn. Though short of stature, it is imposing on all
sides. The north side in particular is a vertical cliff, but the other sides
that I had seen then and now did not look much easier. Eric decided to take a
break while I investigated this one myself, not really sure if I would be able
to find a way up. I approached it , first exploring
around the corner to the left, but found nothing on that
I would risk without a rope, or perhaps even with
one. I then returned to
the north side and traversed around the to examine
. Hidden from view from Bowmans Wash, I found a break on
the west side that offered the only practical route. It turned out to be
fantastic - a mix of , airy class 3, some
surprisingly , then a class 3-4 step-around just
with some heart-pumping exposure.
was a fine perch with in all directions. I quickly left
before reversing the route and ,
a little over an hour for the roundtrip.
Our last summit in the area was about a mile from the wash on the west side.
After the short drive to reach our starting point, Eric realized he was without
his hat. A search of his pack and the Jeep turned up nothing, so we returned
to the previous parking spot to find the hat .
Shortly before noon we were back for a second time to start for
. We followed west
, but like the first summit, found that we would
have to traverse left to find a break in cliffs. We crossed several tedious
gullies before reaching and working our way
through in it. Once on , we
found easier class 2 terrain that would continue to . We
spent just over an hour to reach the top, our highest point of the day. Like
the second summit, Peak 2,525ft lies within the Whipple Mtns Wilderness. There
are a host of summits to I
haven't visited that looked equally challenging, but these would have to wait
for another visit. We left a fourth at the summit before
heading back. Once again we reversed the route down the South Ridge and off
, then made a variation of the route to avoid the tedious
gully crossings for a more direct .
After returning to the Jeep, we drove south to collect Eric's car and then
caravaned to Parker, AZ
where we had a late lunch/earl dinner at Maya's for a second night. Properly
fortified with food and drink, we left town heading south on US95, then east
on Shea Rd, looking for suitable camping locations on BLM lands. We paused at
Black Peak for this interesting drive-up, not suitable for low-clearance
vehicles. There are a number of telecom installations on the summit and
marked by a large white "P" (for Parker) on .
A rough, steep road goes
to the top from the west. The beginning portions are unpaved, the steeper
portions that start soon after are paved with roughly-poured concrete. The
texture provides traction, but it seems to have been done on a budget and is
in poor repair with edges giving out in a number of places. There was one truck
parked at the bottom, its occupants choosing to walk to the summit. A second
truck was just finishing the drive down as we were starting up. The Jeep
managed it with little trouble, but I could see how the longer wheelbase of
a truck would find this challenging. It was an exhilarating drive, and a fine
way to end the day atop our fifth summit in
. We walked for a
short bit before hopping back in the Jeep and returning the same way.
We ended up camping in Osborne Wash, just past the indian reservation boundary,
on BLM lands. There was a small handful of RVs and ATVs parked similarly, but
the area is large enough that we were undisturbed by our neighbors and would
spend the next three nights camped here. Like Bowmans Wash, we found plenty of
firewood here to fuel our campfire which made for a fine evening under the