Dec 4, 2023
Following a long outing to the Whipple Mtns HP, Eric felt he needed an easier outing before tackling the Chemehuevi Mtns HP to the north. So I inserted a day in the Turtle Mtns that we could do as two hikes. Eric would join us for the first outing, then take it easy in the afternoon. The four peaks are located in the easternmost part of the range, accessible from US95. We had camped the previous night off a utility road on the north side of the Whipple Mtns. In the morning we drove to the junction of US95 and Lake Havasu Rd where we left two vehicles and piled in the Jeep for the excursion into the Turtle Mountains. I was kinda winging it with this group of peaks, not doing any research ahead of time and just assuming we'd find a way up.
This is the end of the easy part. Above this is a dark volcanic face going near vertical to start before easing about 20' further up. At the base of this are the initials "LR" etched in the rock with a date that possibly reads "1981". We guessed this was as far as LR got, but we weren't ready to give up. We noted that the rock here was pretty solid, much better than the stuff lower down. The holds seemed pretty good, too, and might be safe enough to give it try. We let the more qualified member of our party have a go at it, and Tom did not disappoint. He made it look reasonable enough that I was willing to follow afterwards, and I found it a pretty neat ascent, exposed but not really scary since the holds were solid. Iris came up third, and 10min after Tom started up, we had three of us on the summit. We were elated to find a very cool scramble route up the thing. We stayed at the summit for about 15min, taking photos and leaving a register before reversing the route back down to the wide ledge atop the white rock.
I had gone down first, and while waiting for the others to join me, had spotted Eric not far below on the NE side of the ridge connecting Peak 2,498ft with a lower rock outcrop to the northwest. This was in the direction I had hoped we might descend to lead us to the second summit, Peak 2,140ft, which Eric had somehow surmised, even though we didn't discuss it. I called out to get his attention, and about five minutes later we were all four together again. We made a descending traverse to the northwest, passing below the second rock formation (of which I neglected to get a picture) which looked like it would also be challenging - we left this one untrammeled as a gift to future visitors to the area. We began a more direct descent once north of this point as we aimed for the saddle with Peak 2,140ft. LoJ had the summit located in the middle of the summit ridgeline, but from our perspective the northwest end looked to be higher and it was to this we were headed. From the saddle we followed the West Ridge up to where difficulties began and we bypassed these to the left or right, eventually onto the south side of the summit near the top where things became class 3. This one was looking like it could be a challenge as well. Eric and I left our poles at the start of the class 3 and went up, Tom just ahead of us and Iris right behind. It turned out to get no harder than that first class 3 section as the southeast side provided a pretty easy scramble to the summit which we all reached a few minutes later, about an hour from the previous summit.
We took another 15min break at the summit, Iris stretching out, snacks consumed, and another register left for posterity. We concluded that the LoJ point along the ridge was clearly lower than our perch. We noticed the east side looked to have easier access and would make a good descent route. I went back down the ascent route to retrieve the poles we'd left, then climbed back up to start down the east side route with the others. This had a bit of class 3 near the top, but it soon became all class 2 as we continued down to a major wash system to the northeast. This wash could be followed east and southeast back to our starting point with easy cruising to get us back to the Jeep by 1p - about four and three quarter hours for the 5.5mi loop.
It was nearly 3p by this time and we had much doubt as to whether we could reach the other summit and get back before dark. There was much hemming and hawing with none of us fully determined to reach it, but when someone pointed out that "It's right there...", that somehow was enough motivation to get us to all agree to head off that way, figuring we could bail on it along the way if any difficulties were encountered. Our route mostly followed Candace's descent route, bypassing the ascent gully by continuing south and eventually dropping down an easier drainage to the southeast. At this point, Candace had traversed back to the north to rejoin the ascent route while we turned south towards Peak 1,830ft which was no longer looking uncomfortably far away. We descended further into a wash that we followed around the west side of Pt. 1,688ft to reach the base of the peak on its NW side. The peak is covered in dark, varnished rocks, but the footing was decent and we had little trouble making our way to the summit before 4p. We were feeling better about our prospects of getting back with sufficient daylight, no longer concerned we'd need headlamps. We spent the next half hour descending the east side of Peak 1,830ft, passing through a low saddle near Pt. 1,628ft, and out on the road we'd driven in on. We found Eric wandering about outside and finding that we'd parked the Jeep just short of the Wilderness boundary marked by a small sign and a line of small rocks across the roadway. We were back by 4:30p, about 10min after sunset.
We drove back to US95 and then north to retrieve the other two vehicles at the junction where we'd left them. We found them both tagged with warnings from the CHP for parking along the roadway (they were easily 30ft from the pavement, but apparently that wasn't good enough). I showered across the highway at a much larger turnout (where trucks are allowed to park overnight), then caught up with the others along the utility road to the TH for the Chemehuevi Mtns where we planned to hike the next morning. Eric found us a decently flat campsite under one of the transmission towers where we would find sufficient wood for our campfire that night. It was some three miles from the highway, so we would have no road noise while sleeping after our campfire had burned down...
This page last updated: Fri Dec 22 09:24:55 2023
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