Palen and Granite#2 DPS Summits

Harlan W S
Dec 8-9, 2013

We did these peaks on separate days; originally we planned to do both in one day. However, the winter days are short, and the drive between the peaks is not trivial.  We had a few missteps, some illness, and when we reached the top of the first peak (Granite) at 9:30AM, we knew we were not likely to hit both peaks that day. The canyons on these peaks are dark and full of rounded boulders and catclaws -- not good for descents in the darkness (especially true of Palen DPS route C).  The roads are fiull of sand and (in places) sharp rocks-- you really have to watch your speed. The route to Granite is nasty in the last few miles; unless you have a really burly 4x4, there is a good chance you will end up parking 1-2 miles before the original DPS "2WD" spots.

Here is a gpx file of the drives in, and the routes we took (DPS A on Granite, DPS C on Palen). You should also get the waypoints from for the 2010 trip, for general driving instructions. The first 7.2 miles west from Midland Road were very smooth and recently bladed (when we went);  the next 5.3 miles to the camp spot (at the divergence of Palen and Granite roads) had lots of washouts. The washouts are not a problem for a vehicle with a good approach angle; they have substantially mellowed since the 2010 trip reported at My 2003 Subaru Outback wagon has just 7.3" of clearance and a miserable take-off angle, so I had to crawl over some washouts to keep the car from nosing into the dirt.

I had two kidney-related surgeries this fall, and had stents from my kidmeys to bladder in two periods, for about a month total-- the stents were quite uncomfortable (at times agonizing) so it was difficult to stay in any kind of aerobic condition.  The stents were pulled 19 days before this trip, but I had already taken a few hikes to get my conditioning back. I still have pain, but it is worst when I sit for a long time -- and the exercise on this trip was very therapeutic.

Thanks very much for the company of Craig B, John I, John R and Mark M; this is a lonely place for a vehicle breakdown, so it is good to do these hikes with trustworthy vehicles and drivers!

General map of the area; blue and purple
for roads, red for hikes. The blue line starts
(on E side) at the Midland Road,
which (through name changes) heads
south into Blythe, CA.
This google earth synthetic shows the
view N over Palen to Granite #2, as if
you were hovering in a helicopter at
First day was Granite. The right side track
for the way in was definitely an "oops!"
 We were yakking away, and when I
finally looked at the GPS...
It was a nice trip, but the wind meant my
 camera was normally under my nylon
shirt, so I took few pictures. Here John Ide
comes up a canyon on route A.
View S toward Palen.
More folks come up.
Usual suspects, with some sad
View sort-of W.
This was probably the first time I had gotten
to a summit at 9:30AM, and thought,
"too late!" We had illusions of doing both
 peaks in one day, but with illness, parking
short of the trailhead, and mutual and
 universal route-finding goofs, we decided
just to climb one peak that day.
Let's get outta this wind!
It tooks us a while to walk this far.
 Next day, John Ide and I went for Palen.
We parked about 2 miles east of the old
DPS "2wd" parking, preferring to walk the
extra distance for the hike, than to walk
20 miles out to get tow service, as the
road got full of pointy rocks at that point.
View of N Palen Massif from near the
park spot.
John goes up the 1st easy dryfall on
DPS C route.
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The canyon was actually quite pretty.
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Now we are just 200' below the summit
and the cold wind (probably 50 mph,
less than 40F) required a change of clothing.
View N from summit.
View ~ E.
View S.
View ~W.
Too windy for my normal pose.
Lip is bleeding from catclaw.
I can't do justice to this view;
you are really looking up. In this and the
next shot, John comes down some "class 2."
Maybe the cold and wind made it worse,
but it seemed more like "easy" class 3.
One definitely had to weight the hands in
places, and search for holds. We didn't spend
a lot of time looking for easier options.
I guess we could have cut to the L,
but there were few options near the
top. We were trying hard to stay out
of the wind. It was easy climbing,
but the cold rock seemed a little slick.
Now I'm looking back at the summit
ridge from near 3500'; the far left is the
rocky summit block.
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The canyon was beautiful, when
we weren't getting whapped in the
face by catclaws.
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A beautiful vein lined with scattered
green crystals.
This is the biggest dryfall, easily passed
on the W (L) side on the way up.
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A look back at the peak
Some terrain shots on the drive out...