Peak 3,133ft P300
Peak 3,667ft P300
Peak 3,825ft P300
Peak 3,654ft
Peak 3,316ft P300
Peak 2,857ft P300
Peak 3,231ft P300
Peak 3,156ft

Nov 26, 2023
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPX


This was a collection of minor summits in the northern part of the Old Woman Mountains and the nearby Little Piute Mountains. I had been to this area on a number of previous visits, first back in 2008 while chasing down DPS summits, most recently in early 2022. None of the day's peaks would take much time, allowing me to tag eight of them before the day was out. All but the first peak were standard desert class 2.

Peak 3,133ft

This was the most interesting summit of the day, the northernmost summit in the Old Woman Mountains. It lies alone, north of Mercury Mountain. A utility road that I'd spent the night on runs within 0.4mi of the peak on its north side. It looks imposing from a distance, rocky and bulky with no obvious scramble route. I hiked the sandy flats past cholla to reach the base, then followed a fun little gully up to the North Ridge. A neat class 2 ramp on the east side of this ridge leads past the lower difficulties, leaving only a short bit of class 3 to reach the summit in about 40min's time. The vast Fenner Valley stretches out to the west and north. The highpoint of the range can be seen about 4mi to the SSW. I left a register before returning the same way.

Peak 3,667ft

This summit is found southeast of Mercury Mtn and the TH for Willow Spring and Sweetwater Washes. Jeep roads used to run into these washes, but they are now in Wilderness. I had intended to climb this peak back in 2022 as the last of a 5-peak loop, but had run out of energy that day. Starting from this same TH today, I headed southeast across smaller drainages to climb the summit from the north in about 25min. It seemed easy enough that I wondered why I had skipped it previously.

Peak 3,825ft - Peak 3,654ft

These two are located about a mile east of the previous one. A bit of driving past a corral and old water tank & pump got me around to the northeast side of them where I started from Carson Wash. I climbed the peaks in a clock-wise loop in an hour and three quarters. I went up Peak 3,825ft's NE Ridge over a minor point that I had mistaken for the summit on the approach. A large pickle jar is found at the summit, empty. Andy Smatko had left a register in 1986 referencing the same jar. I had no better luck than he in opening it, and now it is cracked and quite fragile following my failed effort. The only other visitor to sign the register was a Paul Horton from Jackson, WY in 2017. I had to drop down to the wash system to get between the two summits. There was much evidence of burros in the sandy wash I crossed. The second peak was easier and less interesting than the first. On my way down from its summit I had a cactus needle go through the sole of my new boots. It made me jump and forced me to remove the boot so I could get the needle removed. I was back to the Jeep by noon, now halfway through the day's peaks.

Peak 3,316ft

This summit lies some 5-6mi further south, on the western edge of Ward Valley. I followed various BLM roads past some cattle, the old windmill groundwater pump now replaced with a gasoline generator. There were about a dozen cattle hanging about the only place they could get water, no humans to be found anywhere. The peak is a jumble of crumbly granite blocks, more typical of the Old Woman Range than the last few peaks. The first ten minutes were across the easy flats, then the jumble of rocks to the summit, taking 25min. There is a view of Old Woman Statue from the summit. I left a register here before heading back down the same route.

Peak 2,857ft

These last three summits are located in the Little Piute Mountains to the northeast of the Old Woman Mtns. I had visited the highpoint in 2018, but was now back for the three minor summits in the range. Peak 2,857ft is the lowest and southernmost in this small range, and it would take more than an hour of driving to reach it from the previous peak. The roads around the Little Piutes see little traffic and the signage is rather weak. Luckily, I had studied the satellite views in some detail, allowing me to find my way with only one missed turn. I climbed the peak from the southwest, starting from a very sandy road going through Big Wash. This is a very easy ascent on gentle slopes taking 20min. The Stepladder and Turtle Mtns can be seen to the east and southeast across the vast Ward Valley. The bulk of the Little Piutes is to the north and northwest. My return was a slight variation of the ascent route, no better or worse.

Peak 3,231ft

It was time for a beer with about an hour before sunset. I headed back to the northwest, then north on the BLM's Little Piute Trail that follows along the west and northwest side of the range. Peak 3,231ft is the westernmost summit in the range, less than half a mile from the road. It takes only 15min to reach the summit from the west. I was back to the Jeep as the sun was setting and the moon rising, a day before it became full.

Peak 3,156ft

I had expected to camp the night somewhere in the Little Piute Mtns, but with only a single summit remaining, it seemed a shame to leave it until morning. I decided the moon was more than sufficient for an evening hike, coupled with the lack of any serious cacti that might make the effort foolhardy. I drove further along the BLM road to the northern end of the range, passing by what looked like a rusty TH sign-in box. It turned out to be Box 4, one of four registers placed along the Eastern Mojave Heritage Trail, an off-highway, desert route that makes a meandering, looping route around the eastern Mojave between Death Valley and SR62. I eventually found my starting point for Peak 3,156ft on it's northwest side, about 2/3mi from the summit. I had a pleasant hike in the fading light, reaching the summit in half an hour without needing to use my headlamp. The moon was bright, but not sufficient on its own to allow me to navigate on the way back - too many shadows amidst the rocks I had to scramble over. I got back to the Jeep shortly before 6p and took a jug shower before resuming my drive north. I would eventually hit a good powerline road running north through Ward Valley that could be followed to Interstate 40. I stopped about 3mi short of the Interstate to spend the night under one of the transmission towers. This one made for a rather full day...


Scott Barnes comments on 12/12/23:
When a peak is right there like that, I, for one, heartily approve of summiting in the dark.
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