Peak 2,411ft
Peak 2,575ft P300
Peak 2,795ft P500
Peak 2,729ft P500
Peak 2,693ft P300

Fri, Mar 31, 2023
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profiles: 1 2 3


My second day in the Joshua Tree area had me climbing peaks along SR62, in the Pinto and Sheephole Mountains. With clear skies in the morning, it warmed up into the mid-60s by the afternoon. High clouds came in during the afternoon to keep things from getting too warm.

Peak 2,411ft - Peak 2,575ft

Located on the north side of the Pinto Mtns, I approached these from Gold Crown Rd, a well-graded (but somewhat washboarded) BLM road into the heart of the Pinto Mtns. A lesser road (high-clearance needed, possibly 4WD due to sand) forks east and takes one to the north side of these two peaks. Various social roads can be used to get even closer, but I don't think these are approved by the BLM. One can drive even closer to Peak 2,575ft by using another BLM road to the east that goes by the Lorman Mine, found below the summit on the east side. There is much sand in this area, mixed with varnished volcanic rock. The sand is soft and a bit tiresome, but the rocky areas have decent footing.

Starting out at 7:30a, I first headed to Peak 2,411ft, about 3/4mi to the SSW. I climbed to the top of the dune on the northwest side of the peak, following a social road, then onto the volcanic rock of the peak, taking about 45min. Flowers are starting to make an appearance in the area, so I would stop periodically to photograph ones that caught my attention. I found myself going slower than usual most of the day due to the abundance of rock on the slopes in both of these ranges. I left a register at the summit before starting down the east side of the first peak. I had to drop all the way down to the sandy drainage between the two summits, lower than where I had parked, even. I then ascended a steep, rocky wash on the west side, approaching the summit of Peak 2,575ft from the southwest. It took a bit over an hour to cover the mile and a quarter between the two. I could see the Lorman Mine ruins off the east side of the summit. The roads reaching to the mine looked viable for vehicles sufficiently outfitted. After leaving a second register, I descended a gully north of the ascent route. This worked nicely, with old mining roads not shown of the topo found about halfway down. I could follow the washed-out remains of these roads back down to the main wash between summits. Recent treads in the sand showed that folks have been driving up this drainage semi-regularly. I followed the wash north for perhaps half a mile before climbing out to the west to get back to the Jeep. Just under 3hrs for the 3.75mi effort.

Peak 2,795ft

I drove back out to SR62 and then east about 12mi, parking just off the pavement. Peak 2,795ft is the northeasternmost summit in the Pinto Mtns, about a mile and three quarters south from the highway. It is found inside Joshua Tree NP and the Joshua Tree Wilderness. An old road where I started is no longer driveable, but it makes for a nice route to get through a lot of rocky terrain for the first 3/4mi. The road ends at the entrance to a rocky wash I would follow south. There are vestiges of the road continuing in the wash (and an old vehicle found abandoned there), but for the most part it has been washed out and one simply follows the wash until climbing steep slopes up the east side of Peak 2,795ft. It took about an hour and a quarter to make my way to the summit. The ascent slope was very loose and crappy, while the descent route I used had better footing, but still not great. I left a third register on this one before descending back down to the wash and following it back out to the old mining road and eventually the Jeep. Almost two and a half hours for this one - not much to recommend it.

Peak 2,729ft - Peak 2,693ft

These last two summits are the southernmost in the Sheephole Range, composed of broken granite rock and another slow effort like the previous peak. The range is part of the Sheephole Valley Wilderness, so I could drive only about a hundred yards from the highway on a BLM road before it was blocked at the Wilderness boundary. It would leave me with a little over 3mi on the two-peak loop. I headed first to the closer (and higher) Peak 2,729ft. The approach is short from where I parked, the summit about 2/3mi from the Wilderness boundary. More loose rock on this one, but not terrible, I took about 40min to find my way to the summit. I'd forgotten to bring registers for these last two, hoping that Eric Su had left some on his traverse of the range a decade earlier. If he did, I found no sign of them at the likely spots. Peak 2,693ft is about 3/4mi to the northwest, with a 300-foot+ saddle between them. The ridgeline is complex and slow-going, and non-obvious in places. Still, all class 2, taking about 45min between summits. The next summit to the northeast is more than two miles, so I would leave that for a future exercise. I was getting pretty tired by this time and ready to call it done. I descended off the northeast side of Peak 2,693ft, dropping steeply down to Sheephole Valley, leaving me with a very pleasant mile-long walk across the flats to finish the day just after 4p.

After showering where I'd parked, I headed back to 29 Palms where I would get dinner and find a place to spend the night. Tom Becht was driving up in the morning to join me for some weekend fun...


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