Fri, Feb 19, 2021
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Day 2 of an 11-day desert roadtrip had me camped in the Providence Mtns of Mojave National Preserve, just outside the Mojave Wilderness. All of today's peaks are found within the preserve and would easily occupy me for most of the day.
The first summit was merely the warm-up for the bigger adventure to the next two peaks. While Peak 4,625ft is tame class 2, the other two have some stiff class 3 challenges, and are much higher, part of the range's main crest running roughly west to east. I dropped 300ft to the saddle with Peak 5,390ft and then started up the 1,000-foot slope on the northwest side of the mountain. Despite having a GPSr with the correct coordinate marked, I had some trouble identifying which of several large granite pinnacles was the highpoint. When climbed from the northwest, two such imposing points on the North Ridge come into view and it seems one of them must be the highpoint. Climbing closer, I correctly guessed the southern of these two to be higher and made my way up to attempt it from the south. Fortunate breaks in the rock left a relatively easy class 3 way to its summit, but before reaching it I noticed the GPSr pointing me to another point several hundred feet further south. It would prove to be the highpoint. I finished scrambling the one block before attempting the true highpoint. I had to descend some distance on the west side of the ridge before finding my way to the higher point, a trickier class 3 scramble. I found two viable routes, one going up a steep chimney on the south side with a tunneling move under a large chockstone near the top that I used for the ascent. Once above this, one finds three closely-spaced points vying for highpoint honors. I visited all three, not being able to determine which was highest. I left a register at the base of the westernmost one before starting down. I found an alternate route off the west side that involved tunneling through a narrow gap to emerge at the bottom on easier ground. Good fun, this one.
The third summit, Peak 5,954ft was more than a mile to the southwest and would take me a full hour to manage. The saddle between them is found shortly after leaving Peak 5,390ft. I found a duck marking a set of rusty tools that had been left here at least a decade earlier, probably longer. As I started along the ridge, weaving through brush, trees, and large boulders, I found an overabundance of ducks marking out a route along the ridgline. They seemed completely unnecessary, as there were many options one might take and I would knock them over as I encountered them. As I neared the higher summit, I came across numerous towers and blocks in the vicinity, some of them with no obvious scrambling routes to the summit. The highpoint looked similarly difficult, but I found breaks on the west side of the huge granite rocks that offered two class 3 options up from that side. I attempted to descend off the east side to see if that would work, but got stopped by a drop that I judged too dangerous, and returned back down the west side instead. The summit offers a great view of Granite and Silver Peaks to the west. The Desert Research Center buildings could be seen below to the south. All around were piles of rounded granite features, a bouldering playground if the location weren't so remote.
After leaving the summit of Peak 5,954ft, I turned northwest and north to descend back down to Cottonwood Wash. I thought this would be a straightforward affair, dropping 1,500ft over the course of a mile, but it would be quite challenging in practice. On numerous occasions I would find myself looking over a huge granite boulder I couldn't descend and would constantly redirect my efforts through the steep terrain. In several places I found I was scrambling over large boulders piled in ravines with gaps that led down to caves and tunnels below the boulder surfaces. One of these I dropped into nervously, knowing I couldn't reverse the move and not actually knowing if there was a way out of the twisty maze of passages. It was all great fun (save for the short moment of concern) that would take me well over an hour to negotiate before I was through. Even when I though I was on safer ground, I found more boulders and tunneling below. It wasn't until I was on the wide, sandy wash at the bottom that I could relax and follow the wash back out to the trailhead. The sandy wash still held the numerous bootprints of the many climbers that had used this wash to reach Granite Peak from the TH. It was 3:30p by the time I returned to the Jeep. I showered here, changed into some fresh clothes, and readied myself for several hours of driving to Needles at the AZ border where I would get dinner. I was to meet up with my pal Eric later in the evening off US95 near the Turtle Mtns. More fun tomorrow...
This page last updated: Wed Mar 3 14:33:51 2021
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