Peak 1,819ft P300
Peak 1,594ft P300
Crab Claw LLT
Peak 2,090ft P300
Peak 2,063ft P300

Tue, Dec 14, 2021

With: Eric Smith
Tom Grundy
Iris Ma

Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

Continued...

Four of us were in Arizona for some unplanned peakbagging. Ahead of schedule, we more or less made this one up the previous evening. The highlight was to be an attempt at Crab Claw, a difficult-looking pinnacle along US95 where it cuts a path through the Mohave Mountains. We had camped not far from the highway on the backside of Little Haystack where we slept quietly and comfortably the previous night. The day dawned chilly with blue skies, though the clouds would return by the afternoon.

Peak 1,819ft - Peak 1,594ft

These summits are located on the west side of the highway. Peak 1,819ft lies on BLM land while Peak 1,594ft lies within a square-mile private inholding. Our approach from the east would avoid the private road accessing the property from the southeast and the remote dwelling located in the northwest corner of the property. Neither peak had any online ascents recorded, probably because they don't really stand out as classic desert objectives. We used the Jeep to drive a rough road to within a half mile of Peak 1,819ft on its east side, setting out from there on foot for the two summits. After a short walk up a wash, we climbed the class 2 slopes of Peak 1,819ft from the east, taking about 30min. It was a good vantage point to take in this part of the range, and from it we could see our next peak over a mile to the west - sort of. There were two points in that direction that were close to where we expected our peak - I incorrectly guessed the closer one would be it while Tom was betting otherwise, but in the end it would make little difference on our approach to it. We knew the summit would reveal itself as we got closer.

We descended the west side of Peak 1,819ft down to a first wash, then followed burro trails (finding a few of the furry critters, too) and cross-country over low, open ground to a second wash before starting up to Peak 1,594ft. We had to traverse around the base of the impressive cliffs on the east and south sides to climb it from the southwest, about an hour and a quarter after leaving the first summit. All class 2 for this summit as well. To the west we could see the private homestead in a broad wash, all quiet there. Behind it were some interesting summits, including Tumerion Peak, one of the most interesting in the area - that would have to wait for a future visit as it was still almost 3mi away - there are easier ways to reach that one. We reversed our route back to the closer wash, then made an end run around the first peak, traversing the base of the peak on the south side. Upon turning northeast and following wash around the southeast side, we came across a huge dryfall barring access. We worked left and north around the dryfall, though Tom gave it a close look first, before joining us after deeming it unsafe to climb. Once back in the wash above the obstacle, it was an easy hike back to the Jeep a few minutes away.

Crab Claw

I didn't hold out much hope for this one, but Tom was very much interested in giving it a try. It's a striking feature found just east of the highway. It is #7 on the LLT List, a somewhat mysterious list of summits compiled by Tim O'Connor, all of which can be seen from Lake Havasu City, though few are easy. Crab Claw looks very much like its name, particularly when viewed from the west. There was some slight miscommunication on how to reach it when I dropped the others off at our campsite from the previous night where the other vehicles were still parked. Eric followed me in his Rav4 to the northwest side of Crab Claw on somewhat crappy roads. Tom and Iris found their way to the southwest side, and it was only after getting a "Where are u?" text that I realized our disconnect. With no interest in joining us, Eric hung out at the cars while I went up the class 2 slopes from one direction, Tom and Iris from the other. At the base of the feature, I had already investigated a few options by the time the others had joined me. The more obvious route is from the west and northwest. Class 3 scrambling leads up lower blocks separated from the main block by a chasm. A chockstone bridges the gap. Iris and I climbed as high as the subsidiary blocks, but only Tom ventured across the chockstone to step onto the imposing main block. It was terribly nerve-wracking for me to watch him make these moves. He looked up and down from his position, but in the end ventured no higher - too scary-looking without a rope, he commented. I had also looked around the corner to the south side, noting an overhanging crack with a sling partway up. Tom went up to have a look at this option as well, but decided against it, too. In all, we spent about an hour on the unsuccessful effort before returning to our vehicles - more gear would be needed before giving it another try...

Peak 2,090ft

It wasn't yet 1p, so three of us decided to visit a few more summits while Eric continued to take it easy. These last two summits are also found west of the highway, a few miles northeast from Crab Claw. We drove through the Lone Tree BLM camping area on a BLM road that leads to, among other places, the Bunker Bar, another AZ tradition of off-road eatery/bars to be discovered in the backcountry. Had we done some homework, we'd have found that Stav Basis had circumnavigated the base of the summit cliffs on Peak 2,090ft before giving up, finding it sketchy with a "horrifying Class 5 headwall". We might have gone elsewhere had we known, but luckily just started up from the south, a bit oblivious. We had parked only a short distance away on the southeast side, hiking to the base of the cliffs in about 15min. Recognizing it as something a bit more serious than it had first appeared, Tom and Iris went around to look for easier ground on the north side while I gave the SE side corner a closer look. With a few airy class 3 moves to start, I found the route worked neatly, though not without some good dollops of caution. The others did not reappear from their northern exploration, so I continued to the top on my own, taking only a few minutes. I looked around from the top, noting cliffs on most sides, and went back to see if the others had found success. I found that Tom had climbed a crack system he described as class 5 and "not totally safe" (perhaps the route Stav had backed off from?). I told him my route was much easier which he was happy to hear, as Iris had backed off to try it. She joined us about five minutes later, getting all three of us to the top successfully. This one seemed deserving of a register, so we left one before heading back down the same way - cautiously, of course.

Peak 2,063ft

After returning to the Jeep, we drove a short distance on a spur road to get us closer to Peak 2,063ft. The weather was continuing to deteriorate - a storm that had been forecast for the afternoon looked like it might arrive in time to spoil the party. Peak 2,063ft has a blade-like summit ridge, with two summits about 1/10th mile apart, unbeknownst to us. We made a very direct ascent up the NE face, class 3, to reach the NW summit directly. We then traversed the ridgeline to the SE summit where we left another register. The SE point seemed higher, but I wouldn't make any bets on it. Afterwards, we descended the SE Ridge with a spot of class 3 to reach easier ground. Stav had climbed this one on that same day back in February, by much the same route we used for the descent. It was 3:40p by the time we finished up and none too early.

The first raindrops would begin before we had collected Eric and gotten back to the pavement. Iris had to fly out of Las Vegas the next morning, so we all headed in that direction. We stopped in Kingman, AZ for pizza and beer, and it was during the two hours we were there that the skies unleashed a torrent of pent-up energy as rainfall. There was local flooding and more rain than I can recall seeing in the desert in one go, really quite amazing. We felt a bit smug sitting warmly inside sipping beer. It was still raining pretty hard when we left Kingman, but it began to let up the closer we got to Nevada. By the time we reached Boulder City, it had been reduced to a few drops again. It was much too cold for a campfire, so we decided to hole up in our vehicles and get some welcome sleep. We were happy that the storm had held off as long as it had, and even happier to find it was completely gone by the next morning...

Continued...


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