Forum Index > Trip Reports > 70 Peaks in 30 Days Ė Part 3 - March 2017
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Gimpilator
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PostSun Apr 23, 2017 3:29 pm 
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Have you seen Part 2?

March 14
Iron Mountains High Point

This peak used to be a lot easier when you could do the standard route from the east as described in the guidebook.  There is a pumping station on that side which forces water from the Colorado River through a tunnel underneath the Iron Mountains.  Over the years pumping station personnel have become more exclusive about access forcing hikers out.  A number of people have tried the old route and been shut down.

Coxcomb Mountains and moon before dawn
Coxcomb Mountains and moon before dawn
Coxcombs alpenglow
Coxcombs alpenglow

Fortunately for me I had a trip report by Bob Burd, the peakbagging king of SoCal and host of the annual Sierra Challenge.  He drove the aqueduct road from the southwest and crossed miles of open desert to reach the west ridge.  I would be repeating that route and perhaps even the second person ever to do so.  It was supposed to be another scorcher of a day so I prepared for an early start.

west ascent ridge
west ascent ridge
peaks north of the main peak
peaks north of the main peak

I traced the base of the mountains in the predawn semi-darkness, heading to the northeast where my ascent ridge was still hidden from view.  There were a number of small washes to cross as well as a few larger ones as I got closer.  Alpenglow on the Coxcomb Range behind me was pretty impressive.

false summit ahead
false summit ahead

After turning a bit more east, I could see the ridge I was aiming for as well as some impressive peaks to the north of where the main peak must be.  I bypassed the first part of the ridge around the north because it didnít look good on the map.  Overall it was a steep and pleasant ridge with a few rocky outcroppings.

original USGS survey tripod
original USGS survey tripod

Near the false summit I found something very special which I have wondered about many times.  An original USGS survey tripod, still in one piece and still standing!  On countless desert summits I have seen the nails, the wire, and dried out broken boards, but I never expected to see something like this intact.  Itís an amazing piece of history, and who can say how many more years it will last.

Granite to the southeast
Granite to the southeast
summit visible
summit visible
minor class 3
minor class 3
almost there
almost there

Instead of continuing to the false summit, I traversed a north facing slope below some cliffs to reach the final ridge.  There was some minor class 3 on the ridge and then I was at the summit.  I could see the pumping station below as well as Granite Mountain to the southeast where I had just been with Greg.  In the register I learned that nobody had been up here since Bob Burd himself, 3 years prior.  I made a mental note to send him a thank you email for the route beta.

register can and steep east face
register can and steep east face
Turtle Mountains in the distance
Turtle Mountains in the distance

On the way back the heat was oppressive and even worrisome.  I tried to ration my water between drinking it and soaking my shirt to keep the core temp down.  Near where I parked I stumbled onto some old homestead ruins and what looked suspiciously like an old grave with rocks piled on top of it.  I found a porcelain doll head partially buried in the dirt.


March 15
Marble Mountains High Point

This peak is also known as Castle Peak and I could see why, because from the north it had the shape of a central curtain wall with two corner towers on either side.  As I was hiking south towards the peak, the sun was rising to the east, and behind me to the northwest there was some really nice light on Granite Peak (not the same as nearby Granite Mountain).

camping in the Marble Mountains
camping in the Marble Mountains
castle shaped
castle shaped
first light on Granite Peak
first light on Granite Peak
up this ridge
up this ridge

I had the choice of two ridges.  I could ascend to the left hand castle tower or to the one on the right.  I chose the right one.  Along the ridge there was a lot of volcanic rock but I found some excellent crystals there as well.  Down below on the west face there were sections of white rocks and red volcanic layers.  To north was Providence Benchmark in the Providence Mountains and to the southeast I could see Ship Mountain and the Old Woman Mountains.

my next objective to the east, Clipper
my next objective to the east, Clipper
Ship Mountain to the southeast
Ship Mountain to the southeast
Granite
Granite
bounty!
bounty!

Clipper Mountain
The next range east of the Marble Mountains is a bit higher, the Clipper Mountains.  There are two main approaches and thanks to Subaru, I was able to drive under the freeway on dirt roads and up to the shorter approach.  I walked an old worn out road to the mine southeast of Chuckwalla Spring and then ascended the steep slope behind the mine to reach a saddle.

Providence Benchmark
Providence Benchmark
Edgar and Mitchell
Edgar and Mitchell
Clipper
Clipper
Providence Mountains
Providence Mountains

On the other side of the saddle I followed a large wash southwest and then south to the upper ridge just east of the summit.  There were a lot of volcanic boulders in the wash which made for slow and unpleasant travel.  Bushes around the summit ridge were encased with millions of gnats and each time I walked by a bush I stirred up thousands of them.

wash beyond the saddle
wash beyond the saddle
upper wash
upper wash
looks like Steens
looks like Steens
Ship Mountain
Ship Mountain
Granite
Granite
Providence Benchmark
Providence Benchmark
Edgar and Mitchell
Edgar and Mitchell
Barber and Woods
Barber and Woods
Hackberry
Hackberry
going to the southwest summit
going to the southwest summit
trash
trash
friends John Stolk and Craig Barlow
friends John Stolk and Craig Barlow

The view off the south face reminded me of Steens Mountain in Oregon.  I continued past the northeast summit for a half mile to the southwest summit, just to be sure.  Gnats galore!  Piles of old garbage were testament to the fact that a road had once come up to this point.

Rodman Mountains High Point
There was time left for one more little hike, but first I needed a Chipotle burrito in Barstow!  When the urge was sated I drove up to the tower complex.  The sun was setting beyond the Ord Mountains.  I hiked down to the saddle and back up to the main summit.

East Ord and Ord
East Ord and Ord
looking back at towers from the summit
looking back at towers from the summit

Around this point of the trip I had a realization.  Three of my five camera batteries were totally dead and I had failed to bring any method to charge them up again.  From now on I would have to become very selective with my photography or run the risk of not being able to document the remaining peaks.

March 16
Newberry Mountains High Point
North of the Ord Mountains I found the desert tortoise playgrounds in the Newberry Mountains.  I didnít actually see any tortoises, but I did see signs of them including a number of empty shells.  This might be the place to go to see one, immediately after a rain.

Newberry
Newberry
East Ord and Ord
East Ord and Ord
Ord
Ord
East Ord
East Ord
solo
solo
West Ord
West Ord

I ascended the main wash south of the peak and then went up the south slope which narrowed into a pseudo-ridge for the last 400 feet.  On the way back down I had fun photographing a gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), a non-venemous species.  Then when I was almost back to the car I had an encounter with a bull that appeared threatening, but fortunately it stood its ground.

Rodman
Rodman
my next objective, Calico
my next objective, Calico
gopher snake
gopher snake
East Ord
East Ord
Oy!
Oy!

All said and done, the final count for Newberry was 7 Mylar balloons, 3 tortoise shells, and 1 gopher snake.  Now for a word about balloonsÖ  There was seldom a peak I climbed on this trip which did not have balloons caught in the bushes.  Come on humanity!  Do you have to buy these things for your kids and let them release them outside?  If you must buy them, can you at least tie them off to something?  Every day I packed out as much garbage as I could get my hands on and Mylar balloons were the number one offender.

Calico Peak
The allure of this peak is all about the first few miles through the slot canyon.  Red rock, blue mud, mining history and the added temporary bonus of intense wildflower blooms.  What more could I ask for?  A road goes up through the canyon, but you would need a very seriously souped up jeep to drive over the little dryfalls.

blue mud doesn't show well in photos for some reason
blue mud doesn't show well in photos for some reason

When I was nearing the summit I heard a couple of explosions and I saw a smoke cloud rising down in the valley.  At first I assumed it was military shenanigans, but later I learned that it was a ďsuspiciousĒ house fire in Barstow which killed a couple of dogs.  The media made no mention of the explosions I had heard.  My guess would be a meth lab.

summit visible
summit visible
in bloom
in bloom
"suspicious" house fire
"suspicious" house fire
nearly there
nearly there

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Gimpilator
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PostSun Apr 23, 2017 3:29 pm 
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March 17
Black Mountain
Black Mountain is an old volcano with the caldera still intact.  According to the guidebook, there are American Native ruins high on the peak, but the author doesnít say exactly where to find them.  I didnít see anything other than a few chips of knapped obsidian down inside the crater.  I did the standard south ridge route.  Views of the Scodie Mountains and Owens Peak to the northwest were good and I could barely make out the snow covered tip of Olancha poking up.  I could also see my next objective across the valley.

El Paso seen from Black
El Paso seen from Black
Scodie Mountains and Owens Peak seen from Black summit
Scodie Mountains and Owens Peak seen from Black summit

El Paso Mountain
I was not able to drive as far as Dennis Poulin had, as the road has deteriorated somewhat.  I parked around 4300 feet and then followed the road east.  I was shocked to find another road heading directly south uphill to the saddle east of the summit.  From there it was not far to the top.

Black seen from El Paso
Black seen from El Paso

Red Mountain
I parked behind the hill just east of the town of Red Mountain.  There are a lot of cairns which indicate the best way through the volcanic rock to the base of the west ridge.  Thereís a boot path going up the ridge but it fades away around 4800 feet.  I went over a false summit and turned southeast towards the main peak.  Thereís a concrete foundation on top with a group of large old propane canisters.  Fremont Peak to the southeast has a striking profile.

summit of Red visible
summit of Red visible
Fremont seen from Red summit
Fremont seen from Red summit

March 18
Maturango Peak
It was the weekend again.  You know what that means?  Friends to hike with!  Both Craig and Sean were coming separately to meet me and Sean was bringing his girlfriend Asaka, so we would be a group of 4.  Since the last time I saw Craig, he had climbed Mount Everest.  I had been looking forward to hearing some stories from The Mountain.  Craig suffered some frost bite on that trip but didnít lose any digits.  He was still healing from that.

Manly Peak northwest face seen from Panamint Valley
Manly Peak northwest face seen from Panamint Valley
Slims and Park Benchmark seen from Panamint Valley
Slims and Park Benchmark seen from Panamint Valley

This peak gets a lot of ascents despite being inside China Lake Naval Weapons Testing Base.  We went up Bendire Canyon ending on the east ridge below the summit.  The only difficulty was an impassable dryfall at the end of the old road, but this can be avoided completely by ascending a slope south of the falls.  We encountered some snow near the top and I could see that our traverse south to Parkinson would involve a lot of snow.  To the north along the ridge, the next peak called French Maiden looked kind of interesting.

Craig in Bendire Canyon
Craig in Bendire Canyon
Snow on Parkinson
Snow on Parkinson
snowy Sierra peaks
snowy Sierra peaks
Sean, Asaka, and Craig at Maturango summit
Sean, Asaka, and Craig at Maturango summit
French Maiden
French Maiden

Parkinson Peak
For the most part, the ridge crest between the peaks was free of snow, but certain north facing aspects had patches that were unavoidable.  From Parkinson summit we could see Parrot Point to the south.  Sean badly wanted to go over there, but with all the snow Craig and I felt like it would take too long, especially considering our plans for tomorrow.  I was hoping that with Seanís vehicle we could get into Butte Valley to climb Many and Needle.

Telescope seen from Parkinson
Telescope seen from Parkinson
Parrot Point seen from Parkinson
Parrot Point seen from Parkinson

We descended the long east ridge of Parkinson wallowing in deep snow initially.  There were a few high points to go over before dropping back down into Bendire Canyon.  As we discussed our plans with Craig, he assured us that the road up into Butte Valley over Mengel Pass was the worst road he had ever driven and had taken 4 hours in a truck.  Damn!  I knew he had already done Manly and Needle and needed to be home Sunday anyhow so we bid him farewell.

Point 5818
Point 5818

We ran the numbers on how long it would take to drive around to the Warm Springs road to access Butte Valley and decided it was just too far for Sean who had to be back at work in San Jose on Monday morning.  Plan B then, Argus Peak.

March 19
Argus Peak
Argus was a good second choice because it would allow Sean and Asaka time for the long drive home as well as time for me to get into the core Death Valley area.  From Homewood Canyon Road we hiked over a saddle and down into a wash below the northeast ridge.  We ascended the ridge passing some interesting rock formations along the way.

northeast ridge
northeast ridge

Cairns marked the route through a maze of rock corridors and small cliffs on the false summit.  I noticed a pile of regurgitated owl pellets of rodent bone and fur below what was obviously the a local owls favorite perch.  15 minutes later I spotted the bird in a tree and pointed it out to Asaka before it flew away silently.

Argus summit
Argus summit

At the summit we found an old sign and a short distance away I saw some large boulders which might be summit contenders.  Sean and I went over there and took turns scrambling exposed class 3+ to the top of the highest rock.

oops
oops

March 20
Schwaub Peak
I developed an interest in Schwaub when I first saw it from the summit of Pyramid Peak.  Really you canít go wrong with peaks in this part of Death Valley.  Theyíre all interesting and good.  I drove up Echo Canyon which was a mini adventure in itself and past the Inyo Mine which was once owned by Charles Schwaub.

The road was blocked north of Point 4630.  From there I hiked east up the wash in pre-dawn darkness.  I could hear an owl nearby, hooting away.  Frequently I saw little sparkling green/blue diamonds on the ground reflecting the light of my headlamp.  Closer inspection revealed that they were eyes.  Spider eyes.

first light on Peak 5969
first light on Peak 5969
Schwaub
Schwaub
fossils!
fossils!

I turned south and ascended small ridges to Point 5060.  I then traversed into the wash which runs up between Schwaub and Point 6395.  I ascended the wash and was very excited to find numerous fossils.  How amazing!  Near the top, the wash formed a gully and then degraded into slanted ramps covered in rubble.

top of the wash
top of the wash
slanting ramps
slanting ramps
Schwaub summit
Schwaub summit
Pyramid
Pyramid
Telescope
Telescope
Winters
Winters
Dantes View
Dantes View
Winters
Winters

On the summit I had an incredible view of Pyramid Peak as well as Dantes View Peak, Telescope, Charleston, and Winters down below.  I took off my glasses and put them next to my pack so I could sign the register.  When I was putting the register box back, I went to look for my glasses and realized I was standing on them.  One lens had broken out and they were both deeply gouged.  They were a new $850 pair to replace the ones I recently lost on Shoofly and Fall back in WA.  I was deeply frustrated with myself but even this blunder couldnít ruin the fun I was having.  Nothing a little duct tape couldnít handle, right?  For the rest of the trip I sported my Harry Potter hack-job repaired glasses.

Peak 5969
I descended back to the broad valley north of Schwaub and the began making my way up Peak 5969.  This was an impromptu ascent.  Originally I had planned to do Winters in the afternoon, but this little peaklet looked so nice I couldnít resist it.  I ascended the wash which runs parallel the southwest ridge arriving at a minor saddle at 5400í.

looking back at schwaub
looking back at schwaub
up to this saddle
up to this saddle
along the southwest ridge
along the southwest ridge
Winters from the summit
Winters from the summit
Schwaub from the summit
Schwaub from the summit
distant Charleston
distant Charleston

I continued up the southwest ridge passing over and around some rock formations.  The register revealed that I was the 18th ascent since 1978.  This is a nice viewpoint and I recommend doing it if youíre in the neighborhood.

March 21
Manly Peak
This was it.  Approach drive #2 on the uh-oh list.  I took the West Side Road from Badwater to the junction with Warm Springs.  It was 96 degrees in the valley with blowing sand.  I was painfully aware that if I got stranded out here in the sand or punctured a tire, I was going to be in some serious s**t.  My car does not come with a spare tire.  It was 26 miles from the junction on Badwater Road to the parking area for Manly Peak.

There were mixed reports about the condition of this road.  Most were vague but the guidebook made it sound like it could be serious.  I didnít bother to call the park service because my experience with park service info has consistently been outdated information or just plain wrong.  My emergency plan was to carry multiple gallons of water and hike all night back to the Badwater Road for help if stranded on the east side of the Panamints.  Alternatively I could hike over Mengel Pass if stranded closer to the west side of the range.

The road was bad.  I had to drive painfully slow and I barely made it into Butte Valley with my Subaru.  There are a number of old buildings tucked away in Butte Valley, but they all have warning signs for Haunta Virus posted out front.

Russell Camp
Russell Camp
up to this saddle
up to this saddle

I started early in the morning from the Russell Camp cabins.  The weather did not look promising.  In fact it looked pretty threatening.  As I made my way up to the pass below the southeast ridge of Manly, the wind picked up in intensity.  I was leaning into it and wondering just how the hell I was going to climb a peak which many people use a rope on in such crazy wind.  I almost turned around for that reason.

southeast ridge above
southeast ridge above
foreboding weather above Needle
foreboding weather above Needle

The ridge was pure sand with boulders mixed in.  The whole peak seemed to be composed of sand with scattered boulders.  I could see the summit block above.  The clouds were thickening up and filling in the sky.  It was pretty dark across the valley over Needle Peak.  I came to the summit area which was a jumbled mass of giant boulders and circled around the west side to where the climbing route is.

summit visible
summit visible
Butte Valley below
Butte Valley below
the southeast ridge below
the southeast ridge below
giant summit boulder pile
giant summit boulder pile

The highest boulder has a 25 foot slab on the east face with a few distinct route variations.  The DPS calls this a class 3 route but in my opinion thatís some 1930ís class 3.  Itís the second ďclass 3Ē route Iíve faced on the DPS list which many parties use a rope on.  Prolific peakbagger Dennis Poulin had tried it and decided it wasnít worth the risk without the proper rock climbing gear.  Thanks to his report, I had brought my rock shoes.  I paused to put them on and then started exploring the options.

25 foot slab with flake partially visible at left
25 foot slab with flake partially visible at left

The wind was still intense but it had died down just enough for safe climbing.  The base of the slab was vertical for about 5 feet, but there was a big flake next to the slab route.  I scrambled up it and then looked at the exposed step across to reach the slab.  I saw one good foot placement on the slab but it was awkward and there were no good hand holds anywhere.  I didnít like it one bit.  If I fell there I would go down a ways onto the rocks.

the 12 foot chimney to the right of the slab
the 12 foot chimney to the right of the slab

To the right of the slab is a 12 foot slanted chimney.  It looked easier, but below the chimney was an open hole (not visible in the photos).  A fall in the chimney would drop you much further down than where you started to climb.  After some personal debate, I chose the chimney.  It went well and I came onto the slab already half way to the top.  The slab was steep and still pretty featureless, but I found a narrow hidden ledge behind it.  I was able to walk up this ledge while hanging onto the top edge of the slab.  At the top there was a USGS benchmark.

hidden ramp behind the slab
hidden ramp behind the slab
Panamints to the north
Panamints to the north
Striped Butte below
Striped Butte below

On the way down, the clouds started to clear a little and I was able to get a few photos of Striped Butte which is one of Death Valleyís very famous landmarks.

Needle Peak

Starting at Willow Spring, I hiked south and then east over a small pass.  There was a band of interesting white rock east of the pass.  I traversed east to enter the main canyon northwest of Needle Peak.  The wind in the canyon was extreme.  I climbed out of the canyon to the saddle, east of Point 1489m.

beyond Willow Spring
beyond Willow Spring
white rocks and the west peak of Needle
white rocks and the west peak of Needle
the canyon
the canyon

The west ridge of the west peak of Needle rising above me did not look very friendly.  There were some cliffs and craggy rock formations on the upper half.  Also the weather had taken another turn for the worse.  Clouds over the top of Manly were dropping down to hide the summit and it was raining slightly.  I sure was glad I got that one first.  I started up the ridge, weaving around various rock formations.  There was a lot of loose rock and I was glad to have trekking poles.

west peak
west peak
clouds dropping down on Manly
clouds dropping down on Manly

At one point I ended up in a steep loose gully which was anything but pleasant.  Above that it was just a steep slope with a lot more loose rocks.  Finally it narrowed into a ridge which was better and then I was at the west peak.  I could see the main east peak, still a quarter mile away.  I dropped down a loose slope to the saddle and then went up class 2+ to the summit.  I grabbed the register and dropped down the leeward side to get away from the gusty wind.

nearing the west peak
nearing the west peak
the main east peak of Needle
the main east peak of Needle
Smith Mountain visible to the east
Smith Mountain visible to the east
weather closing in to the south
weather closing in to the south
back at the white rocks
back at the white rocks

One entry in the register by a USGS worker admitted to using a helicopter to get to this remote location.

March 22
Striped Butte

There was time for one last peak before leaving Butte Valley.  Striped Butte just looked too interesting to leave behind.  I ascended the west ridge but thereís evidence that most people probably go up the south ridge.  But by going up the west ridge I would be crossing all those colorful layers and thatís really what I wanted.  On the way to the peak I passed some wild asses.

Striped Butte
Striped Butte
the west ridge
the west ridge
Manly
Manly
wild asses below the butte
wild asses below the butte
a mated pair
a mated pair
shell fossils?
shell fossils?
almost there
almost there

The layers were incredible.  I donít know a lot about geology.  Iíve read a few books, but not enough to understand what I was seeing here.  There appeared to be layers of grey limestone as well as white marble.  There were reddish layers that had what looked like shell fossils, but I could be wrong about that because it also looked kind of volcanic.  I also saw embedded geodes.  I felt like I was climbing a rainbow.  The photos donít do it justice.

Manly
Manly
Needle
Needle
Mormon Peak above upper Butte Valley
Mormon Peak above upper Butte Valley
Striped Butte southeast face
Striped Butte southeast face

I sure would like to know more about the theories behind this formation.

Continue to Part 4

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trent
Suffering fool



Joined: 02 Oct 2006
Posts: 38 | TRs
Location: Stanwood
trent
Suffering fool
PostMon Apr 24, 2017 12:42 pm 
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Gimp: Wow! Peakbagging as an art! What guidebooks did you use for planning? You have probably already bagged it, but a really unusual and fun scramble is Picacho Peak in CA near Yuma. Take a rope for the rappel to get to the true summit!

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Bloated Chipmunk
Farblondjet



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 2656 | TRs
Location: Margaritaville
Bloated Chipmunk
Farblondjet
PostMon Apr 24, 2017 8:52 pm 
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"wild asses below the butte" -- LOL ya don't hear that phrase everyday...   lol.gif  moon.gif  up.gif

Looks like you're really rippin' thru that Desert Summits book.   smile.gif  up.gif

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Home is where the hiking is. 

"Peaks that have come and gone four times should halt a man in his steps." -- William O. Douglas

A balanced diet is a margarita in each hand.
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Fletcher
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PostMon Apr 24, 2017 9:08 pm 
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You are such peakbagging scum! So stoked you had such a productive winter.
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tekewin
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PostMon Apr 24, 2017 9:10 pm 
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I can't believe some of the stuff you find and the mountains you climb I've never heard of. Respect!
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Bryan K
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Joined: 29 Sep 2005
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Bryan K
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PostTue Apr 25, 2017 1:33 pm 
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Dude, you've got some awesome stuff in this section of your escapades!! Glad to be able to share in your excitement!

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Gimpilator
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Gimpilator
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PostWed May 03, 2017 10:12 am 
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trent wrote:
Gimp: Wow! Peakbagging as an art! What guidebooks did you use for planning? You have probably already bagged it, but a really unusual and fun scramble is Picacho Peak in CA near Yuma. Take a rope for the rappel to get to the true summit!

Thank you!  Picacho is on my To Do list but I have been waiting to line up a partner since it seems like a tricky route.  The two main guides I used on this trip are Desert Summits and Rambles and Scrambles.  But I would be doing future trip planners a disservice if I didn't mention that I also gathered a lot of information from Peakbagger.com and Summitpost.org.

Bloated Chipmunk wrote:
"wild asses below the butte" -- LOL ya don't hear that phrase everyday...† lol.gifmoon.gifup.gif

I could have called them wild burros, but I thought asses was funny.

Fletcher wrote:
You are such peakbagging scum!

rotf.gif

tekewin wrote:
I can't believe some of the stuff you find and the mountains you climb I've never heard of. Respect!

Thanks Keith.  You bring up an interesting topic.  Obscure peaks.  Guidebooks are great, but there's a lot out there in CA and WA or even anywhere that is almost completely overlooked.  I have a lot of respect for the peakbaggers that go after all that.  People like Stefan Feller, Fay Pullen, John Roper, Paul Klenke, Bob Burd, and Richard Carey.  Many of these folks often fly under the radar and don't post a lot publicly, but when you get to an obscure summit, they've already been there which is pretty cool.

Bryan K wrote:
Dude, you've got some awesome stuff in this section of your escapades!! Glad to be able to share in your excitement!

Thank you.   hockeygrin.gif

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Forum Index > Trip Reports > 70 Peaks in 30 Days Ė Part 3 - March 2017
  Happy Birthday treasureblue, CascadeSportsCarClub, PYB78, nut lady!
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