Peak 2,557ft P500
Peak 2,284ft P300
Peak 2,657ft P750
Peak 1,940ft P300
Peak 1,540ft
Peak 1,621ft
Peak 1,839ft P300
Peak 1,880ft
Peak 2,300ft P500

Wed, Jan 6, 2021

With: Karl Fieberling

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX


Day 3 of a 5 day road trip had Karl joining me for the desert fun. Today's summits were all clustered in the lower hills east of the Cronise Mtns, just north of Interstate 15, somewhere between Barstow and Baker. Karl had arrived the night before, using an excellent BLM road from the Afton exit that any vehicle could manage. We were camped at a dry lake a few miles from the freeway, far enough that the road noise was just a low background hum. In the morning we took the Jeep for a drive about about a mile and a half up the spur road for the first trio of summits.

Peak 2,557ft - Peak 2,284ft - Peak 2,657ft

The spur road we drove ends at an old mine at the base of Peak 2,284ft on its southwest side. We parked short of this, directly south of Peak 2,284ft's summit. We first paid a visit to Peak 2,557ft with more than 600ft of prominence. The NE Ridge we ascended was an easy grade, leading to a summit ridgeline that curved around to the north where the highpoint is located. We reached it in about 25min, finding a Mark Adrian register from 2019. Seems he's been going after desert peaks with more than 500ft of prominence over the past few years. We continued north and dropped off the NE side towards the small valley with

Peak 2,284ft. This allowed us to make a loop of our hike, ascending Peak 2,284ft via the West Ridge and descending the SW Ridge. It had another register from Mark on the same day. In all we spent about an hour and a half on the loop, finishing by 8:45a. We could have added Peak 2,657ft to the same loop, but instead we drove a short distance back along the spur road to get us a little closer. It was less than a mile to the summit from our starting point to the west, half of this across the desert flats to reach the base of the mountain. We went up a ridgeline to the lower Pt. 2,576ft found to the south, then walked the summit ridgeline north to the summit about a quarter mile away. This summit had almost 800ft of prominence and a large cairn marking the highpoint. Mark Adrian had come back a month later to do this third peak, climbing it at the end of August - I could only imagine how hot it must be at that time of year. From the summit, we continued north a short distance to descend the West Ridge, giving us a nice loop around this minor peak. We were back to the Jeep by 10:30a.

Peak 1,940ft

After returning to camp to pick up Karl's Element, we drove back out towards I-15 and the Afton exit. We left the Element there and continued in the Jeep on a powerline road heading northeast, following close to the freeway for about three miles. Our next stop was Peak 1,940ft, a short hike of about a quarter mile. There is an old mine on the southeast side with a spur road forking off the powerline road to get one even closer. Karl led us up the moderate southeast slope to reach the top in less than ten minutes. The summit has a fine view of Cave Mtn across the highway to the southeast. We left a register before returning the same way.

Peak 1,540ft

Another road forks off from the mine going over a small rise and then north into a hidden valley heading north. This allows convenient access to the next three summits. The road sees very little traffic and eventually just becomes a drive in a gravelly wash. We drove to the base of Peak 1,540ft, the furthest away, about 2mi north of the previous peak. It was another ten minute climb to the summit, nothing particularly hard or memorable. We descended an easier line, making a small loop of it before returning to the Jeep.

Peak 1,621ft

This peak lies to the east of the small valley we'd driven up. The road gets within about a mile of it, but we somehow managed to cut that down by half with some creative driving. From our starting point at a low saddle, we had to drop into the next wash system to the east before climbing up to Peak 1,621ft on the other side. There is a good view of the peak as we descended from our starting point. It seemed far (perhaps only because the previous two were so short), but took only 15min to reach the summit. The much higher Soda Mtns rise in a line to the east across dry Cronise Lake. The Cronise Mtns and Cave Mtn can be seen to the southeast.

Peak 1,839ft

This peak lies about a mile south of Peak 1,621ft, also on the east side of the road. A spur road goes up to an old mine on the northeast side of the peak. Sandy to start, the route eventually becomes the more familiar volcanic rock, following a ridgeline south. LoJ has the highpoint at the spot elevation 1,839ft to the east, but the higher point (by about 5ft) is to the west. We left a register on this summit before returning the same way.

Peak 1,880ft - Peak 2,300ft

We returned to the powerline road and drove another mile or so east to the edge of the Cronise Mtns where these last two summits are located. We did them in a five mile loop, the longest of the day, starting at 2p and taking about two hours. The lower summit stands off from the rest of the Cronise Mtns, a short climb from the south where we parked on the powerline road. Tucked under the summit rocks, we found the remains of a Smatko register in a pink pill bottle. Unfortunately, the plastic lid had disintegrated and the paper contents tattered and unreadable. After a short break, we descended to the northeast into a basin separating the peak from the main crest of the Cronise Mtns. We weren't exactly sure which of several options was the second summit we were after, Peak 2,300ft, but with the help of the GPSr we narrowed it down after crossing the basin and starting up a side canyon. We eventually gained the West Ridge, going over the lower Pt. 2,271ft before reaching the highpoint. Cave Mtn looms large to the south, while the Cronise Mtn highpoint is tantalizingly close to the east, only 80ft higher. I had been to it in 2012 with Evan Rasmussen while we were chasing down range highpoints. I knew Karl was very interested, and offered to drive the Jeep around to the south side to give him an easier way back if he wanted to give it a go. There were three things conspiring against him - he was tired, it was getting late in the afternoon, and there was a drop of 640ft between the two summits that would have to be negotiated. This latter was significant, and in the end was the deciding factor in Karl declining. Instead, we descended together off the Southwest Ridge as the quickest route back to the Jeep. We would finish up just before 4p with about 45min of daylight remaining.

We drove back to Afton where we showered, then drove into Barstow for dinner and a few supplies. Afterwards we drove to the Harvard exit on I-15 and found a camp spot on a utility road south of Harvard Hill, our first stop the next morning.


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