Peak 2,082ft P300
Peak 3,172ft P500
Peak 2,992ft P500
Peak 2,837ft P300

Dec 13, 2023

With: Tom Becht

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profiles: 1 2 3

I had just returned home from a two-week desert trip when I learned my wife would be heading off to Florida for a week. I got a surprising number of home chores done in two days before I headed out again, this time to the Joshua Tree area along SR62. Tom Becht would be joining me for a few days before I would be on my own. We met up along Gold Crown Rd in the Pinto Mtns south of SR62 around 8p the previous night. We had time for a small campfire before heading off to bed a few hours later. We had plans to climb around the south end of the range the next day, utilizing a large network of BLM roads found outside the northern boundary of Joshua Tree NP. Most of the lesser roads we drove required high-clearance, but 4WD not needed. All of the day's climbing and scrambling was standard class 2.

Peak 2,116ft_n2_1

This is one of the most southernly summits in the Pinto Mtns, about 3mi east of the range HP, Pinto Mtn. Karl Fieberling had climbed this minor summit from the main park road, about 6mi each way. Our route from the north would be less than 2mi each way. We drove the BLM road network to the park boundary where our road ended at an old mine. From there, we climbed down into a narrow canyon, followed the wash at the bottom out to the canyon's opening into Pinto Basin, then across rolling terrain to our peak to the south. The ascent is less than 400ft and fairly easy, taking all of an hour from the start. Very fine views looking about the whole northeastern part of the park and the huge Pinto Basin. We added Karl's name to a register we left before returning the same way.

Peak 3,172ft

This summit is about 4.5mi north of Pinto Mtn. We drove back out part-way on the roads we taken south, then west on a new one that passes to the south of our summit. Some creative driving on Tom's part got us closer than I had expected based on the topo map, leaving us about 1.3mi each way. Our approach from the southeast started up a rocky wash before turning north and following a ridgeline towards the summit, taking us about 50min to reach the top. John Vitz had left a register here in 2021, drawn by the summit's prominence in excess of 700ft. We noticed another summit a short distance to the west and decided to check it out. It measured a few feet higher than the eastern point and had its own register, left by Richard Carey in 2016. He mentions sighting the two summits and finding the western one higher. Tom carried Vitz's register from the eastern peak and we left his notepad with Richard's register. On the descent, we started down the next ridge to the west of our ascent route, but soon dropped into the drainage between the two ridges, following this out to the main wash that we could follow back to the Jeep.

Peak 2,992ft - Peak 2,837ft

These two summits are found about 5mi east of the previous one. We drove back out to Gold Crown Rd (with more creative driving as a shortcut), then southeast to find a spur road that climbs high up the south side of Peak 2,992ft. The road gets pretty rough where we decided to leave the Jeep at the base of the mountain to make a loop of these two summits. We hiked up the old road for maybe 1/3mi before leaving it to head up directly to Peak 2,992ft on steep slopes, taking 40min to reach the summit. We found not one, but three points vying for highpoint. John Vitz had left a register here in 2021, noting the southeast point looked higher. We visited that one in turn, finding no additional register and measuring it a few feet higher than the first one. We then went about 1/4mi to the northernmost point with an easy class 3 summit block and a stack of rocks atop it. This one measured 10ft higher than the previous one and seemed the clear winner. The topo map shows the NE summit as 3ft lower than the first one, but we think this is in error. We did not leave a register at the northern point, but the next visitor might consider bringing the Vitz one from the lowest point and leaving it here.

Satisfied that we'd exhausted possibilities for Peak 2,992ft, we headed east off the sumit, then SSE towards Peak 2,837ft, a bit more than a mile away. This was a pretty easy traverse between the two after the initial descent off Peak 2,992ft. Along the way, we discovered there are roads not shown on the topo map that could make for an even easier ascent. At the saddle between the two peaks is a rather deep mine shaft with a rickety set of ladders descending 25ft or so. A use trail headed south from the mine that made easy work of half of the remaining distance, and after that we found easy gradients leading to the summit about 45min after leaving the previous one. Finding no register here, we left one of ours before descending off the steep west side, dropping to the basin below that would lead nicely back to the Jeep by 3:40p. We found several large rock stacks coming down the slope, and a mine boundary marker labeled "Debbie Sue" (we'd seen a similar one earlier labeled "Melissa Marie"). There is a great deal of detritus from the mining days of yore, so it was no surprise to come across a tin can dumping ground shortly before returning to the Jeep. We were both pretty tired by this time, so we would call it a day, returning to retrieve my Jeep and then shortly find a suitable campsite in the area where we would spend the night...


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