Forum Index > Trip Reports > Desert Towers Week, January 11-18, 2018
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Gimpilator
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PostFri Jan 19, 2018 12:08 am 
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Matt Below came to climb some of the harder peaks in the desert with me.  Not everything we did was an actual tower because some of them were fin shaped or just cliffy in general.

1-11
Booth's Pinnacle

We started off in the north shore Lake Mead neighborhood, an area we are both very fond of.  From many angles, Booth's looks pretty sharp and somewhat intimidating.  We drove the boathouse cove road which has gotten worse since the last time I was there.

bones
bones
rams
rams
Booth's Pinnacle
Booth's Pinnacle
Pyramid
Pyramid

Cross country and one navigation blunder brought us to some sheep bones including a nice skull.  Then we encountered a troop of live rams.  The clouds from the lake rose up and enveloped us, obscuring views even when we were on the summit.  We scrambled the west ridge which had scattered class 3 and only one steep exposed step.

exposed step
exposed step
Booth's summit
Booth's summit
another sheep
another sheep

Pyramid Peak

From Booth's we followed the ridge more or less over to Pyramid Peak, passing more sheep along the way.  There was some more easy class 3.

lookingback at Booth's
lookingback at Booth's
sheep
sheep
Pyramid summit
Pyramid summit

Matt was kind enough to wait for me on the summit while I dropped down to tag Saddle Mountain.  I bet him that I could make it down the 400 vertical feet to the saddle and up the peak and back to the saddle and back up the 400 feet to Pyramid summit in 30 minutes or less.  He didn't believe it.  I rushed a bit and made it to the peak and back in 39 minutes, so I was wrong about that.  No register present on Saddle.

Pyramid from Saddle
Pyramid from Saddle
sheep
sheep
Booth's
Booth's
Jumbo
Jumbo
Redstone Peaks
Redstone Peaks
The Sentinel
The Sentinel
Muddy Mountains
Muddy Mountains
Boulder
Boulder
Pyramid summit
Pyramid summit
Lake Mead
Lake Mead

1-13
Dove Peak

Matt developed some knee issues after our first day, so we took a rest day and then resumed in the Castle Peaks range, starting with Dove, which is supposed to be one of the "hardest peaks in the desert southwest".  The whole group of towers which makes up Castle Peaks is pretty neat.  The southern one called "the blade" has only been climbed once and that was only a few years ago.

"the blade"
"the blade"
Dove
Dove
Middle Peak
Middle Peak

Our intent was to get the two highest in the group.  We hiked and scrambled up the south ridge of Dove until we came to the summit block.  I thought I saw the route, but Matt told me it was further around the east side.  I followed him and we came to a chimney.  I belayed him and he climbed it without placing any gear, despite our having carried some.


He then belayed me up to him and we scrambled the rest of the class 3 and 4 to the summit.  The rock was very rotten and not to be trusted anywhere.  There was another chimney which we climbed without rope.  I think this is a potentially dangerous tower.

New York Mountains
New York Mountains
the north peak is highest
the north peak is highest

Castle Peaks North

The north peak had one major step which I rappelled on the way back down.  The register was hard to open and then the pen was broken, so we couldn't sign it.  This area has a lot of nice towers even away from the main group and I bet some of the smaller ones have never been climbed.

north peak
north peak
Hart
Hart

Hart Peak

After the Castle Peaks there was still time, so we drove over to Hart Peak which appears to have cliffs on all sides.  But the south side has some hidden slopes which are mostly class 2.  On the summit, my camera case swung into a rock when I took my pack off and my camera view screen was destroyed.  For the rest of the trip from this point on, all the photos were taken without my ability to see what the hell I was doing.

Hart
Hart
hidden south slopes
hidden south slopes
looking back at Castle Peaks
looking back at Castle Peaks
peaks south of Hart
peaks south of Hart

1-14
Mopah Peak

Mopah is supposedly highly coveted and also gets a fair number of failed attempts.  I have seen this tower numerous times while driving around the desert.  We started in the dark, knowing this would be the longest day of the trip.  The alpenglow on Mopah was really impressive.  It's a great looking tower!

Mopah
Mopah

We circled around to the south side which has a steep gully on the lower part of the face.  Near the top of the gully we followed ledges and climbed some exposed steps to reach the narrow chimney gully.  At the top of this chimney there is an exposed notch.  I had to take my pack off first to get through the notch.

entrance to gully
entrance to gully
chimney to exposed notch
chimney to exposed notch

On the far side, the route crux is another step with death exposure.  Matt free climbed this and belayed me up.  The final ascent on the east face is easy scrambling.

Umpah
Umpah
Turtle Mountains Peak
Turtle Mountains Peak
Umpah
Umpah
Mopah summit
Mopah summit
back through the notch
back through the notch
3rd objective down below
3rd objective down below

Umpah Peak

We both had high expectations for this peak, but it turned out to be a chossy hassle.  Lots of loose rock, some exploding ledges and generally unpleasant terrain.  Only the final 50 vertical feet were solid and good quality, and we did enjoy the finish.

Umpah
Umpah
3rd objective
3rd objective
Mopah south face and route visible
Mopah south face and route visible
good quality at the end
good quality at the end
Umpas summit
Umpas summit
Kettle Peak
Kettle Peak
Mopah
Mopah
Castle Rock
Castle Rock

Peak 2553

I asked Matt if he would mind waiting for me to bag one more on the way out and he didn't mind.  He waited at a saddle while I went up the north ridge of this little peak.  There was class 3 and 4 at the very end.  I found the register placed by my friend James Barlow.

Mopah
Mopah
3rd objective
3rd objective
summit scramble
summit scramble
Umpah
Umpah
Mopah
Mopah
Peak 2688
Peak 2688

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Gimpilator
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PostFri Jan 19, 2018 12:08 am 
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1-15
Bobbin Peak

Having seen the Trigo Mountains several times from the highway, I was itching to get in there and explore it.  They look really craggy and imposing from the west.  I was able to drive really far into the range on decent roads.  Matt was ready for another rest day, so I went solo to check out Bobbin Peak first.

Needles Eye
Needles Eye
Needles Eye
Needles Eye

From looking at the map, I decided the south canyon was the best bet.  This canyon was choked with brush in the middle and had several dryfalls and sections blocked by chockstones, but I was able to scramble around and avoid all obstacles.  After reaching a saddle I scrambled west up to the summit.  I could see Mojave Peak, a future objective, as well as Needles Eye, my next objective.


Needles Eye

I returned to the valley floor and entered the narrow canyon north of Needles Eye.  This canyon is tougher than the previous, with high sheer walls and cats-claw bushes that got me in the face and drew blood.  I came to a class 5 dryfall but there was a left option which might be a work around.  I scrambled up left and then came to a class 5 chimney on the left or a very loose rotten class 4 chute.  I tried those two with care and backed off.  Then I went down to the the dryfall and climbed most of the way up that, but decided the last move was too risky.  Ultimately, not worth the risk solo, so I gave up.  First failed attempt of 2018.

Palo Verde across the river
Palo Verde across the river
Looking back at Bobbin
Looking back at Bobbin
class 4 chute
class 4 chute
class 5 dryfall
class 5 dryfall

Picacho Peak

After staying with my friend Chris in Yuma, we went for Picacho Peak.  This is not to be confused with the other Picacho Peak which is next to a major highway.  This Picacho is very remote and only 1920 feet high.  It's a true desert tower.  This peak has a high commitment level with lots of exposure.  Returning from the summit requires aid-climbing.  If you've ever seen Picacho from the north (no photo here of that aspect), it's a sight you'll not soon forget, almost like Devil's Tower.


Right out of the parking lot we scrambled a dryfall and there were more further up the wash, and even some little canyon narrows.  It's a very scenic area.  We circled around the west side of the peak to where a gully appeared, going up to a notch.  We scrambled up to the notch and left some gear there for the descent.  This is where the ledges started.  These are the most amazing ledges I've ever seen.  Often wider than a sidewalk and usually covered with overhanging roofs.

gully and notch
gully and notch
other spires
other spires
first ladder
first ladder

We came to the first ladder.  A party had recently reported turning around here because the wood is old and the ladder is split on the left side.  Next up we came to a very scary looking step-across.  More of a death-hole, really.  3 feet wide and tricky to get down to.  I forgot to take a photo of the gap, but I think Matt got one.  There used to be bolts here for belay, but someone chopped them.  I examined all our options and came up with a plan.  I figured that I could scramble down a chimney next to the step-across, but I wanted a belay.  There were no good horns or natural anchor points, but I spotted a mound of rock with just enough lip on the far side to hold a sling.  I set that up and then Matt belayed me as I climbed down the chimney and up the far side.  Easy!  On the far side I found a nice big boulder about 25 feet away which I wrapped with an extra extra large sling.  Then I belayed Matt across.


After more ledges we were relieved to see that the second ladder had been replaced with a metal one.  Up we went.  More ledges and then we were on the top of the long narrow summit ridge.  But our trials were not finished yet because there are two serious notches before the summit.

summit visible
summit visible
climb up from the first notch
climb up from the first notch

The first notch is "class 4".  Ha!  Yeah right.  Since when is class 4 overhanging?  I belayed Matt off a boulder while he free climbed this rock step.  He then belayed me up.  I was glad that I brought rock shoes.  The next notch was the most pivotal route feature on this tower.  We had to make a free hanging rappel into the final notch and leave the rope behind.  Below the notch, on one side, you can see the desert floor, straight down about a thousand feet.  I held up my prussik loop to Matt and told him that everything depended on this little piece of equipment, which we would take turns using.  There would be no way out if the gear failed.

summit near
summit near
down to the second notch
down to the second notch
Picacho summit
Picacho summit

We went to the summit and signed the registers.  Returning to the notch I set up to ascend the rope first.  I was glad to have an extra sling to make a chest harness for the main prussik.  I also had the glacier style texas feet prussiks.  I climbed the rope, moving up 6 inches at a time and made my knuckles bloody, getting past the upper lip of the rock.  Matt was a little slow getting started but quickly picked up speed when it was his turn.


This might be the most enjoyable and memorable route I have ever done.  It's in a scenic area and has so many unique features.  I really think it might be my favorite ascent to date.


1-17
Christmas Tree Peak

This was partially a driving day, but we managed to check out the Grapevine petroglyphs. You can see photos of that area in my previous report.  And we also did a short hike up Christmas Tree Peak.

Spirit viewed from Christmas Tree
Spirit viewed from Christmas Tree
Hart and Castle Peaks
Hart and Castle Peaks
Bridge Canyon Wilderness Peak
Bridge Canyon Wilderness Peak

1-18
Moapa Peak

For Matt's final day, he chose Moapa.  Josh and Michael were able to join us too.  We hiked up the approach canyon to a saddle and then followed a ridge up to the west ridge, climbing one class 3 step.  The west ridge ends at cliffs and here we traversed the south face below cliffs to where it was feasible to gain the upper east ridge knife-edge.

Moapa
Moapa

This famous knife-edge is very long and very exposed, but most of the rock is good and solid.  In the summit register we found a message left for us by Jake and Steven.  Thanks guys!  Good to see your names up there.

The worst I have ever seen.  Josh is hard on his trail-runners.
The worst I have ever seen.  Josh is hard on his trail-runners.
Moapa summit
Moapa summit

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Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Stefan
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PostFri Jan 19, 2018 9:38 pm 
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Not a single section of vine maple in sight!

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Art is an adventure.
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Fletcher
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PostSat Jan 20, 2018 2:17 am 
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Looks like so much fun! I wish I was bagging desert peaks everyday.
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awilsondc
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PostSat Jan 20, 2018 11:02 am 
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Gimpilator wrote:

cool.gif  stun.gif  agree.gif  rocker.gif Ohhhhh yeah!  Good times man, and strong words about Picacho considering the wealth of peaks you've climbed.  I'll have to remember that one.
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trent
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PostSun Feb 04, 2018 11:34 pm 
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Gimpilator wrote:
This might be the most enjoyable and memorable route I have ever done.  It's in a scenic area and has so many unique features.  I really think it might be my favorite ascent to date.

I would agree. I can't get enough, having been up the peak about 15 times!

The infamous step-across!

Swimming in the Colorado River after the climb is nice as well!

The military has a low level training route that passes close aboard the peak. Makes for some interesting flybys!

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ree
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PostMon Feb 05, 2018 10:36 am 
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WOW!!!!  That plane shot is fantastic!!!!! up.gif  up.gif  up.gif
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belowfellow
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PostMon Feb 05, 2018 12:23 pm 
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Great weather, great trip. Thanks for everything, Adam. Here are a few of my photos.

1-11-18- pano3
1-11-18- pano3

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"Wilderness is bliss"
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Gimpilator
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PostSat Feb 10, 2018 3:36 pm 
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Wow! Great photos guys!  Thanks for sharing those with us Trent.

Had a wonderful time Matt.  Hope you can do it again next year.

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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Desert Towers Week, January 11-18, 2018
  Happy Birthday kiliki, mtnmschist, adamcwatts!
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