Stepladder and Chemeheuvi (CA) solo; Signal and Castle Dome (AZ) with LVMC

pics by Harlan W.S.
Feb. 23-26, 2012

 

I headed down Thursday, so I could break the long (for me) drive into 2 days. For Stepladder on Thursday, I had bright skies and 77F by the car; but the stiff wind kept the perception of heat to a pleasant level (gusting well over 25 mph on top). I passed a kidney stone while heading up Stepladder, which was “interesting.” Thursday night I camped in the desert near Chemehuevi; more 25 mph winds, but it seemed peaceful. I headed to Chemehuevi, right from my tent site, at 6AM the next morn. Even with a big stupid screw-up, I was on top by 8:15AM, and it was downright cold, with the wind still gusting. Later on Friday afternoon, I drove down through Blythe to Quartzite AZ, and then to a primitive campsite near Crystal Hill in the Kofa preserve, where I met Ali. The night was pleasant, with a coyote serenade ~4AM. The next morning (Saturday) Eric, Angela and Anji were also there, and we all drove to meet Joel and Collin at the western roadhead for Signal Peak. Saturday night we camped off the side of the road in to Castle Dome, and climbed Castle Dome on Sunday. It seemed warm when we started for Castle Dome, but we hit cool conditions when we got into the shadow of the mountain.

 

 

 

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GPS track for Stepladder

2chem24k

GPS track for Chemeheuvi

3sign24k

GPS track for Signal Peak

 

 

 

4castledome24k

GPS track for Castle Dome

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On Thursday, I got to a point east of

Stepladder before 11AM. The driving

was easy; I took the powerline road

recommended by climber.org, rather

than the horrible road given by DPS.

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Love is cruel. Remnants of a

Valentine’s Day balloon.

 

 

 

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As you get near the peak, it looks gnarly.

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View up. There is an obvious use trail

that never exceeds class 2 to the last

ridge..

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…which is an 8’ outcrop of class 3

volcaniclastic rock; a debris-filled

tuff, with cobbles of mainly silicic

volcanics, perhaps even a lithified lahar.

 

 

 

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Self-portrait. It was very windy.

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Another view from S of the S peak.

The N peak (on R) has the same last

closed contour line on the USGS map,

but looks slightly lower; the small 8’

spires on the top of the S peak

probably don’t show up in the map,

which was done by photogrammetry.

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Steep canyon on E side.

 

 

 

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View ~NW.

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View ~SSW.

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Inside register box..

 

 

 

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The peripatetic Palmers.

 

 

 

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Spirit Mt to N.

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Yet another view N.

 

 

 

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View S. This is a very stark, but

impressive land.

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Thegap between the S and N peaks.

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View ~E, upon descent.

 

 

 

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View ~NE on descent.

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View S.

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Desert tortoise shell. I had the very

uncomfortable sense that I was crushing

juvenile tortoise burrows on the walk in,

no matter how carefully I trod. The DPS

should try to cairn one route across the

desert, just to keep folks walking in

one area (the cairns are not needed for

routefinding).

 

 

 

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That eve I camped in a wash at the

Chemehuevi trailhead… very peaceful,

high winds.

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Mopah and Umpah Mts to WSW.

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The next morn I headed to Chemehuevi

~6AM. I was warned about the cholla,

but found open washes where it was

very easy to keep away from spiky plants.

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The light hits the ridge. About this time I

decided to do a gps “goto” on a waypoint.

I should have put on my reading glasses;

I tagged the nearest waypoint, which was

the summit! I was supposed to first head

L to the NW ridge, a class 2 climb.

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So I ended up climbing straight toward

the summit, in defiance of intuition. I saw

one small cairn.

 

 

 

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Now I’m on the S spur, looking N

at the last 400’ to the summit. I actually

climbed past here, saw a steep low cl 5

ramp, checked the name of the waypoint

(now that I had light)… Doh! Time to

drop a few hundred feet and traverse.

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View SSW over traverse.

 

 

 

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Finally on the summit ~8:15AM.

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View W. I had to try 20 shots to

capture “the pose.” The strong winds

kept knocking me over.

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Hey, isn’t this the same damned view from

above? SE toward the lake.

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I think my car is down there.

 

 

 

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View SSW as I head down the real DPS

route.

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View back to peak, over lovely cholla.

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Then I drove into AZ, and stopped at

Crystal Hill in the Kofa refuge; this

is a random view from my camp spot.

 

 

 

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A saguaro gives me the finger.

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It’s a bleak area, but there are abundant

places to pitch tents under palo verde

and mesquite/acacias.

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On Saturday morn, we drove out to

Signal Peak trailhead. The Soob made

it to within mile, but since I had

recently patched a tire, I thought the

better part of valor would be to catch

a ride for the last stretch. View S;

Ten Ewe Mt is ceneter-left.

 

 

 

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Up to the half-way point.

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Ali over the -way point.

 

 

 

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Ten Ewe*, view mainly E.

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Anji on summit, view ~N.

 

 

 

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View ~ENE.

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View ~W down to road for Palm

Canyon.

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View ~ESE.

 

 

 

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View ~WNW.

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The folks rush off to tag the N summit.

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Eric on N summit.

 

 

 

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On the way down, we unexpectedly

met Slawa and her friends at the -way

point.

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I drove out before the others, and headed

east on Palm Canyon Road (long

story there)…

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There are palms up there in that dark

slot… yawn…

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After I had gained perhaps 500’, and

the trail was long gone, I turned around

and headed out. View W.

 

 

 

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The next morn, we head ~E in the wash

N of Castle Dome.

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A first view of the peak. Our route will be

on the L, between the thin spire and the

main mass of the mountain.

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Penstemon.

 

 

 

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Now we are out of the wash. It was perhaps

70F, but felt quite hot because of the sun.

But soon…

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…we were in the shadow of the mountain,

and got cool.

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View ~W along base of cliffs (on the N

side of peak).

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View ~E.

 

 

 

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This the notch between the spire (top

of photo) and main mass of mountain; Eric

below. Collin, Eric and I mistakenly went

up the R (S) side of this wall, up a chute that

was more like class 4. The correct chute

is class 2-3, on the L (N) side of the wall.

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Wiew between the spire and wall, ~N.

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The spire.

 

 

 

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The rest of the route was class 2 and mild

class 3 with exposure.

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View on top, ~SE.

 

 

 

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Signal Peak to N.

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View ~NW.

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Self-portrait.

 

 

 

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View ~SE.

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Slawa shows up again!

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Slawa takes a picture of me

taking a picture of her.

 

 

 

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Descent…

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more desent…

 

 

 

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The correct class 2-3 chute, in gap

between spire and wall.

 

 

 

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View of the last chute, from the other

side of the gap.

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Phacelia.

 

 

 

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Collin by saguaro.

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The dirt knife edge above the wash.

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Penstemon.

 

 

 

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Almost back!

On Saturday for Signal Peak, I felt great

physically, and never breathed hard during the

hike. But the tense drive in over rocks, and all

the talking, used up my cerebellar capabilities,

so I opted not to join Anji, Joel and Collin for

Ten Ewe Peak. There’s more story there;

ask them ;^). I was largely recovered by the

drive out.