Peak 2,116ft
Peak 3,106ft P500
Peak 3,015ft P300

Dec 14, 2023

With: Tom Becht

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


We had camped in a wash along Gold Crown Rd in the Pinto Mountains, strategically chosen to give us an immense amount of available firewood, much of which we used for a roaring fire for hours the previous evening. We were up and ready to go at 6:30a, leaving my Jeep at New Dale before taking Tom's for an off-road adventure to an obscure peak near the border with Josua Tree NP. We would add a few other summits in the wider area before Tom had to head home in the late afternoon. Having been to this area many previous times, I was mostly picking up orphans today, and Tom was gracious to allow me to do so, as well as doing all the tough driving.

Peak 2,116ft

After leaving my Jeep at New Dale, we drove 4-5mi southeast through the range to reach the edge of Pinto Basin, just outside the northern border of Joshua Tree NP. Some of these stretches were exceedingly rough for my liking - I was grasping the grab handles in the Jeep with an intensity that caught Tom's attention, providing him much humor. I only conceded that it was to keep me from bouncing forward into the windshield. On my own, I would have balked at the first mile and left the summit unvisited. It took us the better part of an hour to negotiate those few miles and it wasn't until nearly 7:45a that we got started on the hike. Tom had driven further than I had thought we'd be able to, leaving less than a mile to the summit.

Peak 2,116ft is exceedingly minor and is soft-ranked with a bit less than 300ft of prominence. The drive was the excitement for this effort, not the hike or climb. We had first to cross about 3/4mi of desert wash draining south into Pinto Basin. Our route east took us across the grain of the broad drainage, but there were no deep washes to cross and the going was fairly tame. The climb, too, was mild, an easy class 2 effort with less than 400ft of gain, taking us only 30min to reach the summit. There is a fine view into the park and of the immense Pinto Basin to the south. We left a register here before descending back down the rubbly slopes along the same route we'd used for the ascent.

Peak 3,106ft

It would take us almost 2hrs of driving to return to New Dale, retrieve my Jeep, drive both back out to SR62, then east to our starting point for Peak 3,106ft. This summit is the easternmost in the Pinto Mtns, a few miles east of Outlaw BM, a higher summit I had visited some years earlier. We started from an old road off SR62, just west of Clarks Pass. The road is now part of the Joshua Tree Wilderness. Our route would follow almost due south for 2.5mi, crossing almost two miles of pretty easy desert flats - no real washes to cross until we reached the base of the moutain. From a distance, the north side of the mountain looks to be covered in dark green brush, more typical of the coastal mountain slopes. This is an illusion, however, as the brush is aboout as sparse as that of the flats we crossed, the dark lava rock having blended nicely with the existing brush to make it look denser. We ascended what might pass as the North Ridge, loose in places but more annoying than dangerous. There is a very large summit cairn at the summit that we reached after an hour and a quarter. John Vitz had left a register here in 2020 and there were two other entries before our arrival. 1/3mi to the southeast is another contender that looks of equal height, but the topo maps has it as 9m lower (saving us the trouble of an extended visit). We descended off the NW Ridge, a somewhat gentler grade than the ascent route, albeit slightly longer. We then returned north across the flats to return to the Jeep, just under 3hrs for the whole outing.

Peak 3,015ft

We drove a few miles east on SR62 before turning off on another old road, also closed and now part of the Wilderness. Peak 3,015ft is the westernmost summit in the adjacent Coxcomb Mtns, about 1.2mi from our starting point at the Wilderness boundary. These peaks, composed almost entirely of granite of varying rock quality, stand in contrast to the dark volcanic rock of the Pinto Mtns. The rocks here are larger than in the Pintos and seemingly piled up in haphazard fashion. Though not as challenging as the main Coxcomb range, this front range summit still makes for a fun scramble. We ascended one route approaching from the northwest, and descended another to the south of this, finding both good fun. The summit held a register left by MacLeod/Lilley back in 1981 without another entry in the ensuing 42yrs - quite the find. Almost exactly two hours for the roundtrip effort on this one.

It was after 3:30p when we returned and time to call it a day. We relaxed with a beer and snacks at the TH for an hour or so before it was time for Tom to head home. I would spend the night here, not far from SR62, but happy that there is fairly sparse traffic on this road during mid-week nights.


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