Peak 2,740ft P300
Planet Peak P1K
Peak 2,510ft
Swansea Peak P500

Nov 29, 2023

With: Eric Smith

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profiles: 1 2


Peak 2,740ft - Planet Peak - Peak 2,510ft

Today we headed to Planet Peak, a P1K in the Buckskin Mtns of Arizona, some miles east of Parker. The well-graded Swansea Mine Rd forks off Shea Rd out of Parker, passing a few miles south of Planet Peak. A Jeep road (high-clearance required) forks to the north to get within a mile of the summit on its south side. Ken Jones had posted a track on PB from near our same starting point in 2013. We didn't make it quite as far as Ken did, but then we wanted to add a few other summits in a loop around the southern aspect of the mountain. We left Eric's Rav4 parked on Swansea Mine Rd and took the Jeep to our trailhead.

It was nearly 8a (CA time) when we started out, heading first to Peak 2,740ft half a mile to the ENE. After a first easy stretch across the rolling drainages, we came to the base of the steep SW Slope. The climb is not difficult, but it gains some 900ft in less than a quarter mile. I was cruising along at my usual pace that was a bit too fast for Eric. He eventually asked if we could take a break about 2/3 of the way up. After having a chance to rest, we continued up, reaching the summit after 45min. The summit has a very nice view of the much higher Planet Peak to the north. There was a small cairn but no register, so we left one while we took a longer break at the top. We next headed to Planet Peak along the connecting ridgeline, first dropping almost 500ft along Peak 2,740ft's North Ridge to the saddle, then northwest and north another 900ft up to Planet Peak. We passed by several old prospects shown on the topo map, one of them with some nice bluegreen rocks that had been dug out of the hole but then abandoned. We took another break on the ridgeline before finally making the summit about an hour and a half from the first peak. There is a benchmark from 1948 and a Bob Martin/Bob Packard register from 1999. The peak does not see all that much traffic, about 20 parties all told, including a party of seven in 2008 made up of San Diego and Tucson climbers.

It was 10:30a when we were ready to depart the summit. I wanted to visit Peak 2,510ft to the southwest, a longer stretch of ridgeline than we'd done so far. Eric chose to head back to the Jeep, so after we traversed a short distance to the south, we went down different ridgelines. Mine went to the southwest, along a somewhat meandering line connecting Planet Peak to the third summit. It was a pleasant traverse between the two with nice views, taking an hour and a half. There are several false summits, but the highpoint is found at the most southern point. I left a second register here. Getting back to the Jeep was not so straightforward. After dropping east into a drainage heading south, I had to cross several minor ridgelines and drainages to reach the one where we'd parked, taking an additional hour. I found Eric wandering about outside, bird-watching and exploring about. He had planned to read the book he'd left in the car, but found it locked, despite my telling him I'd left it open. I felt bad about that one. We drove back out to retrieve Eric's car and then a last easy summit a few miles to the east.

Swansea Peak

In the middle of the Cactus Plain, SE of Planet Peak, is a 4-way junction of well-graded BLM roads. We left Eric's car here and drove the Jeep north a few miles on Planet Ranch Rd to the east side of Swansea Peak (Squaw Peak on the topo map, recently renamed). Halfway there the Jeep's TPMS went off indicating a low tire. It got lower and lower and I finally stopped at around 23 psi. This was the first time I recall TPMS ever actually doing something useful other than a bunch of false alarms. We managed to locate the hole and get a plug in without having to remove the tire. After pumping it back up, we were ready to go less than 30min later - not bad!

I had promised Eric an easy one, but this turned out to be more work than expected and would take us 30min to make the summit after gaining 500ft over the course of 2/3mi. The route I picked from the east was pretty direct, but went through a class 3 cliff band with some exposure. On the way back we took a more southerly route through a different gully, but it had a bit of class 3 as well. A scrap of paper at the summit dated to 1998, but it was weathered badly and without a proper container. We left it in the tin with a new register we left at the top. Lilley and MacLeod had been to the summit in 1986, but we saw no sign of a register we expected they'd have left. We were back to the Jeep by 3:45p, having spent over an hour on this one.

We would go back to retrieve Eric's car, then find a place to camp in a nearby wash in Cactus Plain. The wash was chosen for its abundance of dead palo verde trees that would provide us virtually unlimited firewood for the evening's massive campfire - our contribution to global warming...


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