Peak 1,713ft P300
Peak 1,137ft P300
Peak 1,715ft P300
Peak 1,260ft CS

Dec 2, 2023

With: Iris Ma
Tom Grundy
Eric Smith

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


The Whipple Mountains are one of my favorite CA desert ranges (along with the Coxcomb, Old Woman, and Turtle Mountains, for the curious) and I've spent quite a few days here over the past decade. I planned the next two days to involve driving the powerline road through the northeast side of the range, tagging some of the remaining peaks I'd yet to visit. The main outing was a 7.5mi loop to three summits with 2,700ft of gain. As expected, they did not disappoint. Afterwards, we continued driving the powerline and picked up a last summit near sunset.

Peak 1,713ft - Peak 1,137ft - Peak 1,715ft

The three summits are found close to the Colorado River, about halfway between Lake Havasu City and Parker Dam. From the powerline road, we forked off onto Trails End Camp Rd which services Havasu Palms, a trailer community on the CA side of the river. This got us within 2/3mi of the first summit, Peak 1,713ft, and would be our starting point. It was 8a before we were ready to head out, following the drive from our previous camp in Bowmans Wash. The first 1/2mi was mostly tame, crossing a wash system and then easy slopes until the real business begins. Most of the rock in this area is the dark volcanic stuff that lends itself well to cliffs and tricky scrambling. The SW Face that we climbed had a significant cliff band, but we found a steep gully breaking through it that allowed us reasonable passage with only a short bit of class 3. We spent 45min in reaching the summit where we were treated to a fine view of Lake Havasu along the Colorado River. We found a small cairn but no register, leaving one of ours while we took a break at the summit.

Getting to the next summit, Peak 1,137ft, would prove more challenging. It lies about 3/4mi ENE of the first summit, but there's no direct way between the two. The topo map only hints at the masssive cliffs found on the NE side of the ridgeline connecting Peak 1,713ft and Peak 1,715ft (our 3rd summit). We would have to traverse about a quarter mile along the ridge to the NW before finding a way down. It was a nice find, a gully going at class 2 all the way down. Our route took us under the dramatic cliffs we'd had to circumvent, then down the widening gully before turning east and southeast on burro trails to gain the next drainage over. We traveled along gravelly washes (with a class 3 dryfall that could be bypassed with a burro trail) and eventually onto the NW Ridge of Peak 1,715ft which we could follow to the summit. There are two points vying for highpoint, the southern point being highest. We spent a full two hours covering about 2.5mi between the two peaks. Peak 1,137ft was both lower and tamer than the other peaks. This was the closest we'd get to the lake and river, less than half a mile distance. We lunched and rested for a bit, leaving a register for future visitors.

Our next leg, getting to Peak 1,715ft, would be the longest of the day, taking almost 2.5hrs. We first reversed the route off Peak 1,137ft and returning to the original drainage we'd descended from Peak 1,713ft. Here we continued northwest into the next drainage to the north that we hoped could be followed up to our summit. We could have simply ascended back to the ridge via the class 2 route we'd descended, but it wasn't clear that the mile-long ridge to Peak 1,715ft would work out. There was a good deal of unknown by the chosen route, where the uppermost section might or might not work out. We were happy to find that it would. Along the way, we lost track of Tom when he stayed in a wash that the rest of us had left earlier. We spent about 30min ascending the steepening slope towards our exit point, wondering what had become of him. Shortly before reaching the ridgeline above, Tom appeared above us, calm and collected and looking like he'd been waiting an hour for us. There was some class 3 in exiting the face we'd been ascending, but nothing too difficult. Once we'd landed on the ridge, it was less than 10min to the summit over considerably easier terrain.

Guy Dahms of Albuquerque had beaten us to leaving a register, visiting the previous year while moving on borrowed time. We signed his register during our summit stay, then went about finding our way off the peak and back to our vehicles. We could see the Trails End road below to the south and chose to descend a gully off that same side. This would make for an interesting descent with some class 3 scrambling, some dryfalls to work around, and a surprising bit of brush where it narrowed in a shady section above one of the dryfalls. We spent 45min to reach the base of the peak and the road, then another 20min along the road to return to our vehicles. It was now 3p, having taken longer than I'd guessed, but still a successful outing.

Peak 1,260ft

We would spend the next hour driving northwest on the utility road, in and out of numerous drainages, always seeming to be ascending or descending - not much flat driving along this road. In the Jeep I could easily drive faster than the others, often getting well ahead before waiting to make sure they were still making progress behind me. We entered the Chemehuevi Indian Reservation, not realizing recreational permits are required along this section of the road. It does not seem to be regularly patrolled and we saw few others during our days on the road. Peak 1,260ft, despite its lowly elevation, turned out to be a fun peak, short but sweet. It's barely 1/3mi mile from the utility road and takes less than twenty minutes to reach the base of the impressive summit. It looks to be ringed by impossibly steep walls, but after circling around to the east side, we found it to have a class 3 route we could scramble to the summit. The crux is a short face with a diagonal crack to make short work out of what otherwise would be a roped pitch. Three of us arrived at the top (Eric had chosen to skip this one) at sunset. After snapping some summit photos, we quickly left a register before retreating back down so that we could return without needing headlamps. It was 4:50p by the time we rejoined Eric at the vehicles.

We would end up spending the night just off the utility road in a nearby wash that could provide us with ample firewood for the evening. We had only seen two other vehicles on the utility road during the day, and none would travel by during the night - a very quiet and remote place to spend the night...


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