Powell Peak P900
Peak 2,274ft P500
Goat Hill P300 RS
Little Haystack RS
Shangri La Butte P300 RS

Tue, Dec 10, 2019

With: Eric Smith
Jim Burd

Goat Hill
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


We had traveled back into Arizona and the Mohave Mountains southeast of Needles, CA, to visit some peaks of interest there. Powell Peak has more than 900ft of prominence and is the highpoint of the Havasu Wilderness. We would do that in conjunction with Peak 2,274ft, a neaby bonus. The other three summits are short outings near SR95 that are found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. We were camped at the BLM's Lone Tree Campground, a popular dispersed camp area near the highway about five miles north of Lake Havasu City. It wasn't an ideal spot as it was somewhat crowded (not exactly "dispersed") and too close to the highway, but it could accomodate Jim's RV, unlike some of the more primitive roads we might have used otherwise.

Powell Peak - Peak 2,274ft

Powell Peak is located on the eastern edge of the Havasu Wilderness. Between the Wilderness and SR95 is a large track of BLM land with a network of OHV roads and trails. The drive to reach a suitable starting point is long-ish and requires high-clearance, possibly 4WD depending on current road conditions. One can approach from the north at Interstate 40 or as we did, from SR95 to the east. This got us within a mile of the summit on its southeast side. The topo map shows a jeep road forking west from the better road we traveled, but this showed no signs of vehicle use so we simply parked and started from there. We followed the wash west, reaching the Wilderness boundary in ten minutes, and continuing past it until we'd traveled 3/4mi and were half a mile due south of the summit. We turned north and climbed onto the peak's south slopes, becoming the South Ridge near the top. It was a pretty standard class 2 desert climb with no difficulties whatsoever, taking about 45min. There was a ridiculously large cairn at the summit, hours of toil by whoever built it. A register had a notebook dating to 1994 with a brittle scrap from a USGS surveyor dating to 1970. As the highest summit in the northern half of the range, the views stretch over many miles and across three states. The next highest summit, Crossman Peak, is the range highpoint rising 14mi to the southeast. A more interesting summit, Tumarion Peak, lay almost two miles to the southwest. It has more than 700ft of prominence and looks like it might be a difficult scramble - a bit much for today's crew, so I put it in my mental back pocket for a future visit.

Instead, we focused on the bonus peak to the southeast. Our car was parked nearly equidistant between the two, so our first order of business was to return back to the jeep, using our ascent route since it had worked so nicely. Once back at the jeep, Eric decided to take a break, leaving Jim to keep me company, a tag-teaming effort that served them well on this trip. I found Peak 2,274ft to be a more interesting climb as we made our way to the summit in a pretty direct line up the NW Ridge. The topo doesn't show it, but the peak has two distinct summits, the southern one being the highest. They are separated by only a few minutes' effort, so while Jim was busy making his way between the two, I was perusing the register left by MacLeod/Lilley in 2009. Gordon was 85yrs of age at that time, Barbara 80yrs. Not a trivial peak by any means. There were only two other entries until our arrival, ours making the fourth entry and first since 2016. Jim had been intrigued by a structure on the west side of the mountain that I guessed was a game guzzler, so we descended the southwest side of the mountain to make a loop of the short outing and give Jim a chance to check it out. Found not far from the dirt road, it was in fact a wildlife guzzler surrounded by a fence. We guessed that maybe the bighorn sheep could jump over the fence while the burros could not, or perhaps it was just for gamebirds. Once back on the road, it was an easy 4/5mi walk back to the jeep and Eric.

Goat Hill

We drove back out to the highway and then to our campsite across the road, dropping off Jim who had tagged Eric to join me for the afternoon's agenda. All of these were short hikes that suited Eric just fine - turning red dots to green ones on the peakbagger app with minimal effort. Goat Hill was the easiest of three and first that we tackled. The summit has a collection of telecom towers and a rough road leading up to them. The jeep was able to negotiate the` road to a locked gate about 2/3 of the way up, leaving us a ten minute walk to the summit. Almost as easy as it gets. Another visitor in a passenger car had to park down at the base of the mountain. Poor bastard.

Little Haystack

These next two summit are found just off the east side of the highway, striking features that look difficult from all sides. Little Haystack proved the easier of the two, a solid class 3 effort from a saddle on its northeast side. 15min from the car to reach the top. Cool little peak.

Shangri La Butte

Though seemingly named out of the blue, I suspect the name comes from a sign found on the utility building atop Goat Hill. This one turned out to be the toughest summit of the day, and indeed of all the peaks on this trip with the exception of Iguana Peak. There looked to be a gully on the northwest side that goes almost to the top, with a scary-looking step that might be a problem. So we drove around to the northeast side and decided to ascend from there, much as we did on Little Haystack. This turned out to be quite an effort, right at the edge of Eric's growing comfort level. The initial part of the ridge wasn't too bad, but we had to move left to avoid an impasse, landing us at the top of a talus slope on the SE side (that would prove an easier descent route). Above this was some class 3-4 slabs and some pretty good scrambling and route-finding that kept us busy nearly all the way to the summit. Despite all the difficulties, it still only took 25min to reach the top where we congratulated ourselves. Not satisfied that we had found the easiest route, we spent some time trying to downclimb to the top of the gully on the northwest side that we had first considered. After two careful attempts that both ended in unacceptable drops, we returned to the summit and reversed all the moves back to the talus slope on the southeast side. From there its easy class 2 back to the jeep. This one is definitely worth the detour if you find yourself in the area.

After returning to our campground, we decided to have dinner in Lake Havasu City. We ended up at Blondies Bar & Grill (not to be mistaken for BlondZee's Steakhouse, nearby) where we had mexican food and margaritas for $3.50, some sort of Taco Tuesday special. I don't think I can ever recall paying so little for a margarita (pretty good ones, too) since I turned 21 back in 1981. Go Arizona.


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