Peak 2,483ft P300
Lost Arch Mine Peak P300
Peak 3,120ft P300
Peak 3,054ft P500
Peak 2,276ft
Peak 2,480ft P500

Sun, Apr 12, 2020

With: Tom Becht

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile


Day 2 in the Turtle Mtns had us camped at the BLM's Lisa Dawn campground at the base of Lost Arch Mine Peak. Tom and I had had so much fun the previous day in the same area (one of the best desert days ever) that we added an unplanned second day to tackle some of the other peaks in the area. This part of the range is both scenic and challenging due to the rugged nature of the terrain. A mix of volcanic and conglomerate rock have combined with erosive forces to form spires, pinnacles and peaks ringed with cliffs. Some of these are clearly out of our league, but there are plenty that offer challenges that keep one guessing as to whether they can climbed right up to the end. Today's efforts were the leftovers from yesterday, but as we found, nearly as fun and a fine day's effort.

Peak 2,483ft - Lost Arch Mine Peak - Peak 3,120ft

These three peaks lie along the northern part of the crest we had spent most of the day on yesterday. Adam Walker had climbed the first two of these a year earlier, so we had some beta and did not consider them difficult. The third was an unknown, showing no acents and appearing to offer some challenges. We decided to hike them in the order we did so that we could observe Peak 3,120ft from the top of Lost Arch Mine Peak to help assess our route options. From our campsite, we headed WSW across the north shoulder of Lost Arch Mine Peak, utilizing a faint trail that goes to Mohawk Spring on the northwest side of the peak. Before reaching the spring, we left the trail to head northwest to Peak 2,483ft, dropping down to a wash between the two peaks before climbing up the South Slopes of Peak 2,483ft, all class 2. There are two summits to the peak separated by a high saddle. We had originally guessed that the southern summit was highest, but this proved not to be the case. A quicker way to reach the highpoint would have been to climb the east side of the saddle directly from the campground. Still, it took less than 45min to reach Peak 2,483ft via our route, getting us atop by 7:30a. We found the register left by Adam in 2019 in a glass jar, to which I added our names. Like the previous day, I would do register duty for both of us to keep from sharing things between us, part of our social distancing routine for the trip.

We descended southwest off the summit, aiming for the low, rounded ridgeline connecting it to Lost Arch Mine Peak. Just west of the second peak is the impressive Mexican Hat, an officially named summit with vertical walls on all sides. If this weren't deterrent enough, above this was a second set of cliffs that make the feature virtually impregnable. We passed along the base of the feature on its northeast side where I tested some of the conglomerate rocks to find that I could pull out several of the rocks without too much effort. I later contacted Tim O'Connor in Lake Havasu City to see if he had climbed this one. He knew of it, but had not climbed it, so it's possible it's one of those rare unclimbed desert summits. Our route along Mexican Hat led to the saddle with Lost Arch Mine Peak from which we climbed to the summit via the same route used by Adam, another class 2 effort. We did not find a register here from Adam like on the previous peak, so we left one of our own to which we added his name at the top.

We now had a good view of Peak 3,120ft another mile to the southeast. There seemed to be several possible routes, but a small cliffband in the uppermost reaches left us questioning the last 40-50ft to the top. It would require closer inspection. We dropped southwest off Lost Arch Mine, then headed south into the drainage on the west side of the crest where we found easy travel in a pleasant little valley sprinkled with lupine and other flowers. As expected, most of the climb up the west side of Peak 3,120ft was straightforward, leading to the last bit of difficulty. I examined several class 4-ish options before choosing on of these to carefully surmount a 15-foot section of the cliff. After careful deliberation of his own, Tom balked at both options and resigned himself to miss the summit of this one. After continuing the last short distance to the summit, I noticed the north side looked to offer an easier alternative. I called down to Tom to point this out, then downclimbed that side to make sure I knew what I was conjecturing about. It did indeed prove to be an easier way, no more than stiff class 3 and without the exposure the other two options had threatened us with. And so shortly before 10a we were both at the third summit, highly satisfied with the outcome. There is a fine view of yesterday's Kelbaholt to the south along with many of the other rugged features that pepper the area. After leaving another register here, we reversed our route off the north end and down the west side, eventually returning to camp through the gap with Lost Arch Mine Peak. We had expected to pick up the BLM Trail we'd heard that circles Mexican Hat from the campground, but only found it for the last quarter mile or so into camp.

Peak 3,054ft

Our next effort was several miles to the southeast. A rough jeep road follows along the northeast edge of the Turtle Mtns Wilderness, allowing closer access to this and the next summit. Peak 3,054ft is also difficult-looking, with high cliffs on all the sides we could examine as we drove by it. We parked about half a mile from the summit on the east side without having yet seen any feasible route up it. The only chance we had was to find something up the southwest side that we had not been able to see. We hiked up the drainage on the south side of the summit towards a saddle with higher portions of the range. During most of this we were studying the cliffs above us, but nothing looked reasonable as a way up. It wasn't until we rounded a bend and could see the southwest side that a surprisingly open gully presented itself, rising high into the rocky cliffs above. This was almost exactly what we were looking for. We ascended this class 2 slope for about 300ft until it began to narrow and increase to class 3. At its narrowest point we passed through a small tunnel and quickly reached the top of the West Ridge. The northeast side dropped precipitously and the ridge itself was unclimbable. But a crux class 3 section on the right side of the ridge led higher. We stayed on the south side of the ridge, using a convenient ramp, traversing right and around a corner, then more class 3 scrambling to the top, more easily than we had expected. This was the most satisfying peak of the day. We took a short break here, enjoyed our views of the Turtle Mtns to the west and south, the Chemehuevi Valley to the north and east. Our return would go back essentially the same was as we did not find any viable alternates from our ascent route. It was 2p by the time we returned, leaving us with much of the afternoon still remaining.

Peak 2,276ft

This was the easiest summit of the day, a short quarter mile hike up from the road via slopes on the southwest side, all class 2. We took all of 20min to reach the top and less than 15min on the return. We left another register before returning to the jeeps.

Peak 2,480ft

We spent the next 40min driving the rough 4WD road back out the way we'd come and I think we both enjoyed the motorized fun almost as much as the hikes. We stopped at a point half a mile southwest of Peak 2,480ft, our last summit of the day. Most of this was a straightforward class 2 effort, but again there was a ring of cliffs near the summit. We used a somewhat exposed class 3 break in the cliff on the west side that proved to be completely unnecessary. After reaching the summit we found the easy walk-off route on the north side. We had simply to continue up to the left at the base of the cliffs on our ascent and we'd have easily found it. It was 4:30p by the time we got back to the jeeps, still with several hours of daylight, but by now we had exhausted our supply of summits and ourselves, too. We visited Charley Brown's Cabin (or what remains of it) and the Car Corral before heading out of the Turtle Mtns. We decided to head to Needles for Thai food and gas before driving into the nearby Sacramento Mtns where we would spend the next day playing around. We would sleep quite well, satisfied with two very fine days in the Turtle Mountains...


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