Peak 2,991ft P300
Peak 2,940ft P300
Peak 2,940ft P750
Peak 2,140ft P500

Sat, Dec 17, 2022

With: Tom Grundy
Iris Ma

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I was camped on the south side of the Cargo Muchacho Mtns, up early to join Tom and Iris in the Chuckwalla Mtns. My long, meandering route was only a few miles on paved SR78, most of it on OHV roads across the vast Milpitas Wash and other netherlands. I caught up with them where they had spent the night, close to the 4WD trailhead for Chuckwalla Mountain, the range highpoint. I had done this DPS summit back in 2008, so planned to do a couple of unnamed summits to the northwest while Iris and Tom paid a visit, then join them later in the morning for some other peaks to the east of the highpoint.

Peak 2,991ft - Peak 2,940ft

Tom had done a good job of getting his 2WD truck up the 4WD road, but didn't want to risk it further. I gave them a short ride the rest of the way to the starting point, then continued on the worsening road by myself as it works its way northwest up the drainage. Bulldozers had scraped the ground all over the place back in the day, looking for mineral riches, but apparently finding little, if any. There are many short spurs that mix with the bulldozer scrapings to make it tricky figuring out where one can actually drive. I ended up parked on the eastern escarpment of a wash draining down between the range highpoint and Peak 2,991ft. Good enough. After crossing the wash, I ascended the South Ridge of a minor point to the SE of Peak 2,991ft, that was then connected by a short ridgeline. It was maybe a mile distance in total, taking about 50min, all class 2 terrain, standard desert fare. Peak 2,940ft (the first of two today) lies less than half a mile to the northwest, connected by a ridgeline that didn't look all that convenient to follow. Instead, I dropped off the north side of Peak 2,991ft, following the drainage down until I could traverse out to the saddle southeast of Peak 2,940ft. From there, it was the usual rocky ridge climb up to the second peak, about 40min all told. I left a register at this second peak (I didn't realize I had it with me, or I'd have left it at the higher summit), sent a text off to Tom and Iris, then headed off the SW Ridge that I would follow to the base of the range. The hardest part was the return to the Jeep across the grain of the drainage, crossing half a dozen washes that would take close to an hour, for maybe a mile and a half.

Peak 2,940ft

I met back up with the others at Tom's truck, then we drove both vehicles on Graham Pass Rd, separating the Chuckwalla and Little Chuckwalla Mtns. Peak 2,940ft lies just above Graham Pass to the northwest, less than half a mile from where we parked, but about 1,300ft up. We crossed a volcanic boulder field to start, then up rubbly slopes to gain a ridge rising steeply towards the summit. The rock quality improves as does the size of the rocks comprising the ridge as one climbs higher. Some class 3 scrambling on this one, including the final summit rocks, about an hour for the ascent. The register was a good one, left by the Rockatomics Stamp Club in 1968. This was the climbing section of Rocketdyne (later Rockwell) in Canoga Park (where I grew up, coincidently), disguised as a stamp club to not draw management's attention to dangerous employee activities. The register attracts about one entry per decade. On the return, we descended the gully just west of the ascent ridge, finding it about the same quality as the ridge, class 2-3, moderately fun. We were back down by 2p, about two hours for the roundtrip.

Peak 2,140ft

This is the easternmost summit in the Chuckwalla Mtns, about a mile northeast of the previous peak. We drove further down the northeast side of Graham Pass until below the summit on the southeast side, an easier version of our previous climb. Iris decided to take it easy, leaving Tom and I to take about an hour for the roundtrip effort. This was a more enjoyable scramble than the last peak, thanks to nice ascent gully and better rock near the summit. Mark Adrian had left a register here the previous year, the first of many we would find over the next few days. It seems he has covered just about every summit in both of these ranges as well as the adjacent Orocopia Mtns. Well done, Mark.

By the time we had returned after 3:30p, Iris had found us a quiet campsite a few miles further down the road that had flat parking, a fire ring, ample firewood nearby, and good cell service. We had a very fine campfire that night under a starry sky, far from civilization. Does it get any better?


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