Bristol Mountains, Clipper Mountains


By: Andy Smatko


While most of the nation was enveloped in a frigid cold spell, our Southern California low deserts were delightfully cool, and it was in such weather that thirteen avid desert peakers met in Ludlow at 7 AM, on Sat Jan 22. A fine desert road led north beyond Broadwell Dry Lake to a power line road which we followed NE for about 1-1/2 miles, and from this point a broad canyon was followed to the western base of the high point of the Bristol Range-40 miles long. A sandy wash was followed until it became feasible to gain a rocky ridge which was then ascended to the summit. A large cairn was found but no register in place. Thirteen new names formed a new register. While we were all sprawled about on the summit enjoying lunch, we were somewhat startled with the arrival of Gordon MacLeod and Ernie Schumacher who had climbed up from the south, thus making 15 signers-in.

From this summit the panorama is quite extensive with most of our favorite desert ranges in view. Descent was more interesting as a rocky canyon, enlivened by short dry waterfalls gave spice to the several newcomers on the trip. This climb marked the first ascent of a mountain by a bright-eyed Explorer Scout. Next day the group caravaned from Essex to the north of the Clipper Mtns and then south along a good road to the Goldhammer Mine. Beyond here the road gradually deteriorated and we were forced to stop after another mile or so. The climb proceeded up a broad gully, but to make it more interesting we gained a rocky ridge to the east and proceeded to the summit. Weather was still delightfully cool. The summit is a long sloping ridge and three other high points were checked to the west as they looked as high as where the large cairn was erected. Sixteen of us signed the register. The southern side of the Clipper Mtns is eroded into wide canyons flanked by sheer-walled cliffs that support narrow mesas. Ascent is possible up the south side. Among the climbers were three Explorer Scouts and their young leader. A more model group of youngsters could not be hoped for and they hope to join us again.

As the day was still young, several people explored the Flute Mtns SE of Essex. These looked quite spectacular and seemingly worthy of a scheduled event for the future.

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