Peak 5,789ft P300
Peak 5,684ft P300
Peak 5,210ft P300
Peak 6,794ft P300
Peak 7,503ft P300
Peak 6,011ft P300
Peak 6,048ft P300
Peak 6,020ft
Peak 6,163ft P300
Peak 6,022ft P300

Mon, Apr 20, 2020

With: Karl Fieberling

Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPX

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In order to avoid temperatures in the 80s in the lower desert regions, Karl and I were in the mid-elevations of the Coso Range where we could avoid snow found in the high-elevation ranges of the White, Inyo and Panamint Ranges. I had been to this range on a number of previous visits, so this was more of a clean-up effort, targeting a bunch of unnamed leftovers. All of the peaks were relatively short class 2 efforts, the longest only about two miles roundtrip. There was plenty of driving between peaks and between groups of peaks. Most of the roads were suitable for passenger cars, but the last mile or two on spur roads to the THs required high-clearance.

Peak 5,789ft - Peak 5,684ft - Peak 5,210ft

These three peaks are located on the west side of the range outside the Coso Wilderness. They can be accessed from Cactus Flat Rd off US395. We had spent the night camped just off this road southeast of Peak 5,210ft in a clearing. In the morning we drove the road south to the Jack Henry/Five Tunnels/McCloud Mines where the road become high-clearance. We continued to the southern end of McCloud Flat on the northwest side of Peak 5,789ft where the road sort of ends on the lower slopes of the peak. It took less than 15min to climb the easy slopes to the summit. Overcast skies came along with a 30% chance of showers for the day, and though views and scenes were somewhat muted, no rain fell until evening. We left a register before returning to the jeep.

Peak 5,684ft is located at the northeast end of McCloud Flat. We drove to the north end of the flat and across a dry lakebed before turning northeast and driving to a saddle on the southeast side of the peak. Another 15min effort got us to the summit. The rounded summit separates Little Cactus Flat to the north from McCloud Flat to the south. The higher summits of the Coso Range are seen to the east. We left a register on this summit as well.

We tackled Peak 5,210ft last. A spur road from near our campsite goes west, partway up a drainage to get one within half a mile of the summit on the SSE side. About 20min saw us up the initial steep slopes and across the flattish ridge to the summit rocks. Andy Smatko and party had left an undated register in a small plastic pill container, calling it "The Moontain." An L. Greene was the only other party to visit in 2005. Haiwee Reservoir and the snowy Sierra Crest could be seen to the southwest and west, with Olancha Peak standing as the Monarch of the region to the northwest.

Peak 6,794ft

After finishing the first three peaks, we drove back out to US395 and SR190 to approach the Coso Range from the north. We drove in on Centennial Rd, a good dirt road that I'd had the van on several times. We left Karl's Element at Gill Corral and continued in the jeep southwest to the mouth of Centennial Canyon at Centennial Spring. A rough jeep road goes up the unnamed canyon east of Centennial Canyon to reach Upper Centennial Flat. We came upon an older jeep making its way slowly up the same road. He pulled over to let us pass. The going was slow as Karl had to get out to move a large boulder here or there, other times I needed to survey the rocky road for a workable line. We ended up parking where the canyon forks before reaching Upper Centennial Flat. The extra driving wouldn't save us any time as we were now only half a mile northwest of Peak 6,794ft. The other jeep pulled up while we were getting ready and the three of us chatted briefly. It was his first time in the area and he was heading to some petroglyphs said to be in the area. We were no help in that department. We climbed the steep embankment of the canyon wall to reach the easier ground above 6,400ft. It took about half an hour to reach the summit. The peak lies just inside the Wilderness boundary and only half a mile from the China Lake NWC. Coso Peak, the range highpoint, lies just out of view about 3mi to the south. The Wilderness HP is about 2mi to the west, clearly seen and commented on by Karl. He'd have been happy to tag that one while we were in the area, but having already done it, I had other summits in mind and not ready to toss Karl a bone. We descended a little more directly to the unnamed canyon where we found the other jeep parked, but no sign of the occupant. We walked the short distance down the road to our own jeep and drove off.

Peak 7,503ft

After driving back to Gill Corral, we picked up Karl's Element and drove southeast on another dirt road heading down the center of Lower Centennial Flat. We left the Element at Reed Corral and headed west in the jeep to the north side of Peak 7,503ft, parking at its base where our spur road ended. This was the highest peak of the day and the longest effort, about 2mi roundtrip with 1,600ft of gain. The climb vaguely followed the North Ridge with decent footing despite loads of sand. At around 6,700ft a large stone hearth was found in reasonably good shape. There were no signs that it was ever part of a homestead or other structure, just an open-air hearth that could be used for cooking and heating. Not far above this we found signs of stones aranged on the hillside almost as for a roadbed or terrace, purpose unclear. Karl believed these to be the foundation of an ancient Indian temple pre-dating the Mayan Empire and I had no reason to think otherwise. It took just over an hour to make our way to the summit with a commanding view to the north. The white dome atop Coso Peak could be seen a few miles to the south. Rain had been threatening from the north during much of the ascent and we even felt a few drops, but the brunt of it had moved east before reaching us, leaving us dry. We left a register here as well before returning the way we'd come.

Peak 6,011ft - Peak 6,048ft - Peak 6,020ft - Peak 6,163ft - Peak 6,022ft

After driving back to Reed Corral, we continued east where this cluster of five peaks is found around a looping jeep route. They are all low hills, all but one with at least 300ft of prominence but otherwise unnoteworthy. We could drive to within half a mile or less of all of them, making them short hikes. Bob Sumner had visited the last two in 2004, while Richard Carey had visited the four with prominence in 2017, leaving registers on the last two that Sumner had climbed. There are various mine ruins to explore, noteably on the northwest side of Peak 6,048ft where we parked at the end of a spur road. On the opposite side of the loop road between Peak 6,020ft and Peak 6,022ft is a small spur road leading to a camp area. A statue of the Virgin Mary has been installed overlooking the site on a nearby rock. It appears to have been broken and reglued half a dozen times. Coins are scattered about the base of it. Our route to Peak 6,163ft from the southeast wasn't the best choice. It would have saved a good deal of driving if we'd just approached it from the north along the loop road. The GPX track bypasses Peak 6,020ft because I forgot the GPSr in the jeep on that one. It was after 6p by the time we finished up with the last summit. Having cleared out everything in the immediate area, it was a good time to call it a day. We spent the night camped at Reed Corral, light rain visiting us periodically during the evening and through the night. We were very happy that the rain had held off during the day, allowing us to stay dry...

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