Stepladder Mountain 3x P500 DPS / DS
Malo BM P300

Tue, Nov 8, 2022

With: Tom Grundy
Iris Ma
Karl Fieberling

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile
Stepladder Mountain previously climbed Fri, Apr 10, 2020


Stepladder Mountain

Today's main event was a visit to Stepladder Mtn, a DPS summit in eastern San Bernardino County that I had already visited twice. A third visit was planned the previous evening based on poor memory - for some reason, I thought the north summit, a difficult class 5 climb, was the actual highpoint. The other three had never been to the summit and just took me at my word. We brought rope and climbing gear in the hope that Tom would be able to do what I had not done on two previous attempts - climb the north summit.

We left two vehicles parked where we had camped the previous evening, and drove south in the Jeep to the end of the road on the eastern edge of the Stepladder Mtns Wilderness. We would then recreate the same basic route that everyone takes to reach Stepladder, a 9.4mi roundtrip effort, much of which is a pleasant hike southwest across the desert flats. After reaching the base of the range, we headed up a broad drainage to the west. While walking up the wash, Karl spotted a rusty kid's wagon just above us to the south, a very odd find. Tom tried to give Iris a ride in the wagon, but it was too rusted to be serviceable and the effort was soon abandoned. We crossed into an adjacent drainage over a low saddle, then headed up the lower half of the mountain over moderately steep class 2 terrain. We regrouped at the start of the class 3 scrambling, took a short rest, then finished the route to the summit 2.5hrs after starting out.

We very quickly ascertained that the south summit was obviously higher, bringing into question my memory of the summit, obviously incorrect. We scrambled up the summit conglomerate block, signed the register, took in the views and the usual rest period. Expecting to be much slower on the descent, Karl started down first while the rest of us went over to take a better look at the north summit. We did no better than I had done on two previous visits, but at least I was satisfied that Tom found nothing obvious I had missed. We concluded that it was within our abilities to climb it with the gear we brought, but since it wasn't higher, we lacked the motivation to do the sketchy climb. Back down we went.

We found Karl resting on a rock at the base of the mountain, not as slow as he had imagined he'd be. Tom went off to climb a nearby bonus peak I had done on my previous visit while the rest of us headed back to the Jeep, finishing up after 12:30p with a roundtrip time of 5hr20min. Tom made good time and was back only a few minutes after we had opened beers to mark the occasion.

Malo BM

Iris and Karl were ready to call it a day. Tom decided to join me for one last bonus in Malo BM. This minor summit is located on the California side of the Colorado River, close to the paved road leading from US95 to Lake Havasu. A BLM road gets one within 1/3mi at the base of the peak. Part of the peak is signed as private property belonging to a Needles rock hound club. It looks to date to the 1960s, and as far as we could discern, has been depleted of any valuable gems and rocks. It took only 15min to climb the short distance to the summit. We found one of the reference marks, but it appears the benchmark has been removed. It was very windy, so much so that we would get easily blown off our feet if not properly braced against the wind. A winter storm was racing across the state and threatening rain at any time. We could see rain falling in several directions, but none on us while we were out hiking.

After finishing up on Malo BM, we drove into the Turtle Mountains where Karl and Iris had already established camp in the northern part of the range, near where we planned to hike the next morning. The strong winds continued all evening and through the night, such that we didn't dare try to have a campfire. It was surprisingly warm (about 66F) so we mostly sat about outside under the nearly full-moon. The moon would mostly be hidden behind the pervasive clouds overhead, but it would make regular appearances as the clouds danced across the desert sky - quite the lovely evening. It didn't start raining in camp until nearly 9p, and by then we were comfortably ensconsced in our vehicles for the night...


Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

For more information see these SummitPost pages: Stepladder Mountain

This page last updated: Tue Nov 15 14:01:09 2022
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: