Tecopa Hills
Peak 3,723ft P750
Shoshone BM
Peak 2,575ft
Peak 4,298ft P300
Peak 4,740ft P300
Peak 4,140ft P300

Mar 2, 2018

With: Iris Ma

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2 3 Profiles: 1 2 3


Tecopa Hills

I awoke from my cozy campsite in Tecopa Hot Springs only a quarter mile from my first objective, the highpoint of Tecopa Hills. Located between Tecopa and Tecopa Hot Springs, the rather small range has little in the way of interesting climbing objectives. The hills are small, rounded, and mostly devoid of vegetation, the soil exceedingly dry and unaccomodating. A trail network has been built going over the summit north to south, probably by the hot springs folks to provide additional recreating opportunities for the visitors to this sad little resort. I parked off the pavement to the west and hiked up the moderate slope to the highpoint in about 10min - not much to this one.

Resting Springs Range

East of Shoshone, SR178 cuts through the southern end of the Resting Springs Range before dropping into Chicago Valley on its way to Pahrump, NV. This primarily limestone range has been a favorite of mine over the years and it was only six weeks earlier that I had done a short hike south of SR178 with Iris and Karl. Today I was after Peak 3,723ft with more than 750ft of prominence. In a 5mi+ loop I added the lowest peak in the range, Peak 2,575ft, found just off the highway, and Shoshone BM, a PB-only summit found between the two. I parked near the lowest summit, then headed off to the northwest across Chicago Valley towards the highest, 2mi away. The peak cannot be seen from my starting vantage and I had to fight the urge to climb up onto one of the ascending ridgelines in front of me which would lead to a lower point blocking the higher one from view. Chicago Valley can be surprisingly green at times, though today it was looking much like any other Mojave valley given the absence of rain this year. The skies were partially overcast with a 20% chance of rain that never materialized, but the winds were picking up strongly today. After about a mile and a half I rounded a corner and started up towards the west, eventually settling on a slope that might vaguely be called the East Ridge. Finding your basic class 2 desert climb, it took about an hour and a quarter to reach the first summit, Peak 3,723ft. I turned south to follow the crest of the ridge in that direction for an hour, covering about a mile and half. The ridge has a small amount of scrambling, the rest easier, over broken limestone rock with nice views off either side. I found the Shoshone benchmark with little trouble, along with a register left by the Sierra Club's San Diego Trio of Adrian/Carey/Hanna in 2002. With five pages of entries, it was more popular than I'd have guessed, but still that only amounts to about one visitor every two years. I continued south along the crest a short distance before dropping back down the east side, aiming for the saddle with Peak 2,575ft. It took only about 10min to climb the last peak from its saddle and then another 15min to return to the van along SR178.

Funeral Mountains

I drove back to Shoshone where I was to meet up with Iris at 11a. I had enough time to get a snack and soda at the market there before she arrived only minutes from 11a - pretty precise driving from Orange County! The afternoon outing I had planned was a 7-8mi romp around the Funeral Mtns (another favorite of mine), tagging a trio of minor summits that can't be found on anybody's interest list, save mine, I suppose. We drove north to Death Valley Junction, then west on SR190, parking at a semi-random spot along the highway with our summits a few miles to the north. The route would cross the desert flats (really a gradual incline) from the highway before starting up a steep limestone ridgeline towards the first peak. From a distance I thought the ridge was going to be crappy and told Iris so. It looked like loose talus crud, but in fact it turned out to be mostly solid and quite fun. We spent about 40min climbing the ridge before the slope relented just above the 4,000-foot level. Here we topped a rise to get a view of the higher Peak 4,740ft, second on our list, another mile to the north. We turned left to climb the last easy part of Peak 4,298ft, arriving at the summit by 1:15p, an hour and a half from the start. The winds were driving fiercely across the summit and ridgetops, probably about 40mph with gusts even higher. I got knocked off-balance several times during the outing, scratching myself up pretty good, drawing blood, and amusing Iris. She seemed to be getting blown about even more, but somehow kept her balance much better (yoga & youth, I reckon) and stayed upright.

After a few minutes' time, we dropped off the summit to the east, following the arcing ridgeline to the second peak, the highest of the day. The distance was only a mile, but it would take us a full hour, battling the strong winds while making our way up. The first part to the saddle was easy enough, but then the route goes steep rather quickly. Instead of taking a direct line up what might have been a good class 3-4 scramble, I opted to move left and seek out a gully that was less exposed to the winds and no more than class 3. The summit provides good views to Pyramid Peak to the northwest, the Funeral Mtns Wilderness HP to the north, and Bat Mtn to the southeast. We stayed about 10min, snacking and leaving a register here (none were found on any of the summits, to no surprise), before heading back down via the same gully. At the bottom of the gully we turned southeast to follow the ridgeline to the last summit, Peak 4,140ft, another mile away from the base of the higher summit. Some sheep trails appeared to help us along this traverse, all the while we were getting battered by the winds. The temperature was probably in the low 60s, so we weren't really suffering from cold. Iris found the strong winds amusing and would laugh out loud as she was getting whipped around by them. We reached the summit of Peak 4,140ft soon after 3:30p, the highpoint not obvious even after visiting two or three likely locations. I was interested in descending the peak's West Ridge which looks pretty good from the edge near the summit. When I suggested it to Iris she replied, "Yeah, if we wanna die!" The wind was blowing forcefully from the westerly direction and it did seem like a fool's errand to descend that way in such conditions. We ended up dropping into the drainage we'd been circling all afternoon, finding some good scrambling in the upper reaches and less wind lower down. It would be 5:15p before we returned to our vehicles along SR190, finishing a 5.5hr effort, and a good one, too. The shower this evening would be cold and merciless - pouring tepid water over your head in strong winds is not one of the more pleasurable desert experiences. Such are the dangers for those exploring these realms...


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