Peak 2,220ft
Peak 2,700ft P500
Peak 2,460ft
Peak 2,736ft P300
Peak 2,650ft P300

Mon, Nov 7, 2022

With: Tom Grundy

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


Today had our party of four spread out on three different agendas. Iris had to prepare for a work meeting that she would take remotely from her Element parked a mile or so west of US395 in eastern San Bernardino County. Karl would do a short outing to Big Chief and another nearby summit that wouldn't tax his legs too severely. Tom and I would join forces for a 7mi+ outing to some summits in the Chemehuevi Wilderness on the east side of US95. With more time in the afternoon, we would add a bonus peak in the Stepladder Wilderness. The weather today was near ideal - blue skies and temperatures in the 60s.

Chemehuevi Mountains

Tom and I drove from our campsite east of US95 out to the highway, then a short distance south to park along the road's shoulder to start this outing. We were after a group of four summits in the northwestern corner of the Chemehuevi Mtns. The entire route was enjoyable class 2, nothing sketchy, no spikey plants, pleasant cross-country. The route involved quite a bit of up and down with several deep washes to cross, but not too taxing. None of the summits see much traffic and only one had any previous ascents on LoJ. We found no registers and having forgot to bring our own, left none. The second summit, Peak 2,700ft, had a large cairn and ascents recorded on LoJ by Candace Skalet and John Vitz (we were surprised not to find the expected Vitz register). After the last summit, we dropped into a wash where an old road/pack trail can be found. We had planned to follow this out all the way to the highway, but missed a turn and ended up making several additional unplanned climbs over ridges to get us back to where we had parked. We were done by 12:30p, about five and a quarter hours after starting out. Good fun, this one.

Peak 2,650ft

We drove back to the BLM road junction near Loebeck Pass, then west to reconnect with Iris who was still parked where we had camped. She had another hour and a half until her meeting, so we headed west to do this last summit in the Stepladder Wilderness. The better objective was Big Chief, only 2/3mi from the gasline road we drove, but since I had done this one, we did Peak 2,650ft instead. It is located about 2.5mi inside of the Wilderness, south of where we parked on the Wilderness's northern edge. We were alarmed during the last part of the drive to see a dense forest of cholla stretching across the Wilderness for more than a mile. I was ready to call it quits before we even started, but it was with no small relief that we found the cholla not so dense where we started at the highpoint along the road, just south of Big Chief. Our peak was well out of view to the south, blocked by other minor summits. Our general route followed the low, indistinct divide separating drainages going east to the Colorado River and west to Ward Valley. The first half mile goes through moderately dense cholla gardens, making it important to watch each step closely. After that, the cholla almost miraculously disappears and the going becomes much more relaxed. It wasn't until we were within about 3/4mi of the summit that we got a view of it - nothing special, just the highest point in this eroded group of small hills. The final climb was the steepest of the outing but still class 2. The views from the summit were so-so, and we couldn't really say there was anything special about it, aside from the remoteness that kept even the likes of Andy Smatko from visiting. Sadly, I again forgot to bring a register. We thought this would have been a good one to leave one, since it could be decades before it sees another visitor. We returned back along the same route, about 2.5hrs for the whole outing.

Afterwards, we turned east along the gasline road to find Karl parked near the junction with the road we would take south the next morning for Stepladder Mountain. After finishing her meeting and work, Iris paid a visit to Sharp BM near US95, then joined us at our camp for the night shortly before sunset.


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This page last updated: Tue Nov 15 13:23:51 2022
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