Sun, Dec 12, 2021
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Brother Jim was departing this morning, but Stav had returned, leaving us with a party of seven for the day's desert adventure. Like the previous two days, we would all hike the first summit together, then split off in smaller groups for alternatives. It was our second day in the Whipple Mtns, this time up Bowman Wash on the eastern edge of the Whipple Mtns Wilderness. Most of our group had climbed in this area previously, so there was little overlap on peaks we had not climbed. From our campsite closer to paved Parker Dam Rd, we drove four vehicles up Bowman Wash to our starting point. After unloading our charges, Tom and I continued up the wash for another mile and a half to drop off my Jeep to facilitate a different exit point, then drove back in Tom's Jeep to the start with the others. It was just after 8a by the time we got moving.
We started by following an old Jeep trail to the northwest as it ascends the drainage between Peak 2,525ft on the left and Peak 2,710ft on the right. There are a number of old mine works/prospects that the road serviced long before it became part of the Wilderness. It took about 45min to reach a saddle between Peak 2,710ft and our goal, Peak 2,380ft, about 1/3mi further to the northwest. We left the road here. Chris had visited Peak 2,380ft a year earlier and was paying it a return visit out of courtesy, more or less on the way to the deeper peaks he was more interested in. We followed the route he'd used, along the SE Ridge that needed only a few diversions to avoid obstacles. It took us an hour and a quarter to reach the top where we took a break and enjoyed the clear views extending across much of the Wilderness area. It was a fun stretch of class 3 scrambling, much as Chris had advertised. The more interesting (perhaps because we had no real beta on them) summits were to the northwest, Peak 2,660ft and Peak 2,940ft. The latter looked particularly difficult from our vantage point. Though only about a mile away, only four of us were interested in continuing to Peak 2,660ft. Iris, TomB and Eric decided to backtrack and do some of the other summits in area, easier because there were known routes to them. So after leaving a register, we all started back along Peak 2,380ft's SE Ridge to avoid the cliffs found on the other sides. Four of us then dropped off the southwest side of the ridge to descend to the wash that divides Peak 2,380ft from Peak 2,660ft. Interestingly, this wash feeds into the larger Whipple Wash north of Peak 2,940ft. We had spent the previous day in a lower part of Whipple Wash only a few miles from here, though they seemed worlds apart.
We followed the wash past the impressive gap between the two summits, then started up the easy class 2 slopes of Peak 2,660ft. The slopes grow progressively steeper but it looks like smooth sailing ahead. There is an interesting rift high on the peak that we traversed before reaching what appeared to be the summit surrounded by steep walls. We moved around to the west side and found some class 3 scrambling to get us to the top, only to find it wasn't quite so. A short distance to the north is another point, slightly higher, and separated by a large gap. We had to drop back off the southern block, descend some on the west side of the ridgeline, then traverse to the northern point where the route-finding was trickier, still class 3, but harder than the southern point. It was 11a when we managed to reach the higher block, a 15-20min effort from the lower summit despite the short distance between them. The view north to Peak 2,940ft did not look any easier than it had earlier, and it was about this time I was having serious doubts as to our chances of success on that one. I had hoped to make it the third summit before leaving the others to venture east for a couple of other summits that Chris had already climbed. Now this plan was looking a bit too much. Though the others spent some time trying to talk me out of it, I decided to forgo Peak 2,940ft and leave that for a future visit. After leaving a second register atop Peak 2,660ft, the four of us dropped northwest off the summit to a saddle at the top of a gully descending east through the peak's many cliffs - just the ticket I was looking for. While the others descended only a short distance before traversing north towards Peak 2,940ft, I bade them goodbye and continued the descent for 1,000ft to the wash below.
On my own now, I settled into a slower pace that I could keep over the next few hours - those other guys are fast and were wearing me out. Once down to the wash, I immediately crossed to the east side and started up a rocky gully I had spied on my way down from the previous peak. This took me up about 600ft, avoiding cliffs to the left, and then around to the back side where I had a good view of my next stop, Peak 2,892ft, and the easier terrain to reach it. It took another 15min to make my up the class 2 slopes to the summit, arriving just before 1p. I sat there for a short time, eyeing Peak 2,940ft to the west from time to time. I eventually saw a lone figure standing atop, soon joined by two others - their efforts had been successful. Oh well, at least now I knew it could be climbed and where to find a helpful GPX track.
Shifting my focus to the east, I could see most of the remaining mile+ distance to the last summit, Peak 2,922ft. From what I could tell, it looked like cruising territory - most, if not all of it going at class 2. After leaving a third register atop Peak 2,892ft, I sauntered off to the last summit, an hour and a quarter away. It was lonely territory (though I would come across a few signs of humans like the occasional claim marker), both sunny and chilly in the afternoon light. I enjoyed the time to myself and the softer colors as the afternoon wore one. I left a last register atop Peak 2,922ft before I started my final descent.
It wasn't much more than a mile to where I'd left the Jeep in the morning, but it would take more than an hour and a half to reach it. The descent off the southwest side of Peak 2,922ft was pretty straightforward, leading to the southeast-facing gully that would descend to Copper Basin and the road. I had mistakenly thought I'd used this gully before when I had ascended nearby Peak 3,012ft back in 2015. But as I was started down the gully, none of it looked familiar, and only later did I realize why - I hadn't been down here at all. It was a long, 1,000-foot descent with a number of dryfalls, one of which I had to circumvent entirely. It kept me guessing for most of the descent, but I was certainly entertained. Near the bottom of the canyon, where it opened more broadly, I found myself on an old mining road, now part of the Wilderness. I had to leave it to continue more southerly across an additional drainage to the south before reaching the Jeep just before 4p.
On my drive back out Bowman Wash, I paused briefly at our starting point, noting the other two Jeeps were still there, but no one that I could see. I continued the drive down the wash towards our camp about 40min away, soon noticing another vehicle behind me. I pulled over to let them pass, finding it was Stav, the other two vehicles right behind him. Seems we had all finished up around the same time, a happy coincidence. We raced the remaining distance back down Bowman Wash at a faster pace, getting back to camp around dark. We had our best campfire of the trip that night, a raucous time with surprisingly little alcohol. And with more fun in the Whipples the next day...
This page last updated: Fri Jan 20 02:49:27 2023
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