Mon, Dec 12, 2005
We left Twentynine Palms early, driving east then north under cover of darkness in search of Sheephole Mtn. We missed the turnoff for the short dirt road just before Sheephole Pass, but upon retreating found it easily enough. It was just growing light out as we got our act together and headed out across the dry wash in search of the side canyon on the NW side that takes us up the mountain. The main wash had a half dozen major appliances and computers dumped in them, all riddled with holes - a fine example of the Land of Many Uses, dump and target range. We found footprints leading up the side canyon and here the hike becomes quite enjoyable right from the start. It was fine scrambling, class 2-3 over nice granite as we negotiated the dry creekbed. We alternated across the sandy bottom where it leveled, climbing over granite blocks that regularly choked the water channel.
We followed out DPS route beta until it suggested we gain a ridge, instead choosing to simply continue up the gully. There are literally dozens of ways one could climb the mountain from this side, so finding an exact route is hardly important. Reaching the summit plateau area, I was some 10 minutes or so ahead of Matthew and I decided to try to follow the NW Ridge directly to the summit. This worked well for the first half, but the blocks along the ridge grew progressively larger. Eventually I had to move right off the ridge and make my way through the maze of boulders, a few hundred yards still to the summit. It took about 2hrs to reach the summit, Matthew about 15 minutes behind. For the descent, we found an easier way off the summit by heading west down to the summit plateau (the way recommended by the DPS guide) and then traversing back. We took a slightly different route down the upper part of the mountain, but eventually dropped into the same side canyon that we'd started up.
We were back at the car by 11a, then a 100mi drive to East Ord. There seems to be a lot of driving for these desert peaks! The last peak of the weekend was East Ord, one of the highest in its general vicinity and easily discernable while we were still at a great distance. The main dirt road off the highway is one of the best I'd ever seen, and it we were easily able to travel at 50mph along its smooth grade. There were a few miles of rough dirt road to negotiate at the end, bringing us to within a few miles of the peak. This was the easiest peak we tackled all weekend. We intended to follow the DPS route up the main gully on the SE side, but somehow we missed the main gully for another smaller one which led to the ridge just west of the main gully. We followed the ridge until near the summit ridge where we traversed over to the top of the main gully and then on to the summit, all in just under an hour. After a brief break to sign the register and take some pictures, we headed down the east side of the summit, following the ridge just east of the main gully. This was composed of primarily loose talus, but the slopes were never so great as to make this even remotely difficult. It would make for a tedious talus slog on an ascent. We followed the ridge down to where it split, taking the west fork which led down to our car parked at the the toe of the ridge. Two hours for the roundtrip - the drive from Sheephole Mtn had taken longer than the climb.
By now it was 3:30p, getting late in the afternoon and time to go home. Seven more hours of driving were necessary to get us back to San Jose, and by then we were pretty beat. Overall a very successful four days, and I promised Matthew I would join him again for another desert venture in the future.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Sheephole Mountain - East Ord Mountain
This page last updated: Wed Feb 8 09:30:52 2023
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