Jan 10, 2024
|Photos / Slideshow
The Clipper Mountains are found in the middle of the Mojave Desert, south of Interstate 40 and east of Kelbaker Rd. I had been to the range highpoint back in 2008 and then a second visit in 2017 with friends for a few other summits. I planned to spend two days on this trip collecting five of the six remaining, concentrated at the western end of the range. I wa a bit apprehensive about this plan, to be honest. Much of the old Route 66 bridges in the area were wiped out by heavy thunderstorms several years ago, and then a 50-year cyclone this past summer added additional damage to roads throughout the Mojave. I was happy to find the BLM roads I drove from the south, about 7.5mi in total from Route 66, were driveable with the Jeep. The last 3-4mi were the most challenging, but it was more fun than otherwise and a good adventure. I ended up parking not far from the end of the road shown on the topo map, where I planned to end today's large loop. The outing would end up just short of 10mi with 4,100ft of gain, taking about 8.5hrs.
The longest leg of the day was the initial one to Peak 3,169ft, almost 3mi to the northwest. I had a number of drainages to cross on the long traverse, though the drainages turned out to be easier than I expected. I climbed to a saddle north of Pt. 995m where I had my first view of the peak, still about 3/4mi to the west. I traversed low around the north side pf Pt. 995m to reach a saddle SE of Peak 3,169ft and then climbed the steep East Slope to the summit ridge. There are two closely-spaced summits that looked initially of similar height, but the northern one was clearly higher when I reached it at 9:50a, an hour and a half after starting out. There was no cairn, but I left a register under a small one I built.
The second summit was Van BM, 1.5mi to the ENE, taking an hour and a half. Others had been to this peak and I expected to find a register. I dropped off the east side of Peak 3,169ft, crossed a large wash at the bottom, then made my way up to Van BM, bypassing intermediate points on the south side. The benchmark is located a short distance northwest of the highpoint. The latter is found along a class 3 knife-edge (can be bypassed to keep things class 2) and the summit makes for a neat little perch. Andy Smatko and Wes Shelberg had visited in 1979, noting that the first ascent was in 1941, but sadly, the names unreadable. MacLeod and Lilley left a better register in 1985. The only other entry was John Vitz in 2004, so roughly 20yrs between ascents - nice!
I descended the East Ridge of Van BM (and chased off a quartet of bighorn sheep), originally intending to follow the connecting ridgeline to Peak 3,854ft, leaving Peak 4,104ft for a future visit. But I was feeling pretty good and it was only 11:30a at Van BM, so I had time and energy to add Peak 4,104ft as a bonus. The route I took to the northeast worked quite nicely, first dropping to a major wash draining to the northwest, then climbing moderate slopes to the summit. The topo map shows two points with an elevation of 1,251m. LoJ has the highpoint at the northwest point, but I found no register there (MacLeod had recorded an ascent in 1984, so I expect to find one). I went over to the southeast summit which I measured to be a few feet higher, but still found no register. I left one of mine here.
It was now 1:15p with plenty of daylight and I was having a fine time. The weather was cool and breezy, but a t-shirt was sufficing for the whole outing as long as I didn't linger long at any of the summits. The last summit, Peak 3,854ft was another mile to the south along a connecting ridgeline with a low saddle and several intermediate points. I went over one of these points and around another, finding a bit of class 3 downclimbing along the ridge, the only place where I packed away my trekking poles to leave me two free hands. I reached the last summit just before 2:30p, finding a small cairn but no register. I left my last one at this summit before dropping southwest off the summit, eventually landing in a drainage/wash that I could follow most of the remaining two miles back to the Jeep. I went over a low ridge to the west of the drainage near the end to get me in the correct drainage, then a short hike back up the road to the Jeep, finishing by 3:45p. It was one of my better solo desert outing this season, leaving me feeling pretty good when it was done. I took a shower with the bit of daylight remaining, then drove halfway back out on the BLM roads, finding a good campsite on a utilty road with cell coverage. Great day!
This page last updated: Fri Jan 19 09:13:39 2024
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