Jan 12, 2024
We were camped south of SR62, near the base of the Pinto Mountains about a dozen miles east of Twentynine Palms. I had brought our little group here for a visit to Peak 2,562ft, the last remaining summit I had in the western part of the Pinto Mountains. It didn't have much going for it, barely sporting 300ft of prominence, but it did have the nearby Outlaw BM, a P1K which I'd climbed a dozen years earlier. I would offer this to entice the others, along with a bit of fun Jeeping that I expected TomB would enjoy. It worked out to be a little over 8mi with 2,000ft of gain, taking us a bit over 5hrs to complete.
The BLM road we'd camped on, Ironage Rd, cuts through the Pinto Mountains to reach the defunct Iron Age Mine. The road is almost entire through a sand and gravel wash, a fun little exercise made considerably easier with 4WD. When we emerged into an inner basin southeast of the old mine, we were still following tracks through the wash when we noticed we'd gotten off the road as depicted on the topo map. The wash grew ever sandier and we weren't sure exactly where the Wilderness boundary was, but the wash was conveniently heading south towards the two peaks. We didn't drive much further before calling a halt and parking about 3mi northeast of our peak. It turns out we were well outside the Wilderness boundary, but it was probably good to stop where we did due to encroaching brush.
The drive had taken about 45min, and it was 8:15a before we were ready to head out on foot. We continued south across the small inner basin, finding an old road leading nearly to its southern extent. There, the basin drops into a wash continuing south to Pinto Basin. We followed this wash for another mile before turning left into a third wash that would take us close to Peak 2,562ft. The first hour and a quarter were an easy walk without much gain or lost from one wash into another. We were almost due north of the summit, now only 1/3mi away when we finally climbed out of the wash system and began the real ascent. The footing was good, all standard desert class 2, taking us another 20min to reach the summit which overlooks the vast Pinto Basin. We took a longish break here since we were hardly pressed for time. The weather was pretty fine, with cool temps and only a light breeze. We left a register here before working out how to get to Outlaw BM, about a mile to the NE and 400ft higher.
The connecting ridgeline between the two summits is rather circuitous and we judged pretty quickly that we were best served by dropping down to the wash we'd ascended to the north. I thought it would be best to do this more directly off the northeast side of Peak 2,562ft, whereas my companions thought it best to descend first to a saddle east of my line before dropping into the wash. My route proved crappier as I fell well behind the others trying to negotiate the loose rock on the slope I descended. I followed at some distance in the wash below that became somewhat heavy with brush as we followed it upstream for about a quarter mile. We climbed out onto the Southwest Slopes heading up to Outlaw BM with a climb of some 1,100ft, finding volcanic rubble strewn about, but decent footing nonetheless. We were halfway up the slope before I caught up with my companions, except for TomB who was forging ahead at a healthy clip. We reached the summit about an hour after leaving the first summit, finding the highpoint a bit northeast of the benchmark (we found the survey tower and wires, but no actual benchmark). At the time of my first visit in 2012, there were only four pages of entries in the register left by MacLeod/Lilley in 1984. Now there were 17 pages attesting to the increased interest in prominence.
After a nice rest at the summit, we went about getting ourselves back down from Outlaw BM. Our initial plan was to drop to the same wash we'd come from and follow our original route in reverse. We then noticed we could drop to the basin north of us (part of Clarks Pass) and then cut northwest through a low saddle to return to the smaller basin from where we'd started. We decided on this plan because it would make for a nice loop, and were happy to find it worked quite nicely. The footing was good, the gradient never very steep, and once down in the basin, the various drainages we had to cross were all pretty trivial. This route would probably make for the easiest ascent of Outlaw BM, too, provided one's vehicle can make it to our starting point. We came across a handful of broken tortoise shells and some mining stuff on the last leg of our journey across the flats, eventually arriving at the Jeeps shortly before 1:30p.
We still had more than three hours of daylight, but we decided to call it good. We collected a roof-rack of firewood on our drive back down the wash, giving us enough to have quite a fire at camp that night. Good thing the sheriff didn't drive by before we got to camp...
This page last updated: Sun Jan 21 14:34:41 2024
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