Spectre Point, The Coxcombs, Sheephole Mountains, Diatic Peak
By: Bob Herlihy
On Saturday, January 4, a group of fattened, softened Christmas New Year's Holiday survivors met at Yucca Valley for the caravan to climb Spectre Peak.
Bernie Petitjean was selected to be assistant leader, and 37 hikers headed eastward up the fan toward a prominent pass. We contoured down, into a sandy wash and followed it eastward to the top of the pass. We then contoured slightly down and around to the southeast, leading to the "V" shaped canyon that cuts its way up, southward to a bowl, marked by a very large dark brown boulder standing in the center, from which the noteworthy high points of the northern, end of the Coxcomb Range, may be climbed.
Thirty-six people made the Class 2 climb to Spectre Peak by going around the boulder, then following the left fork of the streambed which winds around and up, leading SSW toward the peak. We followed the easy left ridge to the summit where we ate lunch, enjoyed a beautiful view of the surrounding desert and could appreciate why the Coxcomb Range so richly deserves its name.
Although Spectre is the recognized high point, another point called 'Diatic' lies to the northeast and appears to be of comparable elevation. Six climbers under the leadership of Wally Henry and How Bailey made the Class 3 to 4 climb of that high point and rejoined the group later at the cars. Six other climbers made the easy ascent of Agua Peak (also known as Tensor) which is a 15 or 20 minute scramble to the north of the brown boulder in the bowl.
All participants returned to the cars before dark. A large and cheery campfire was built. while appetites were being satisfied.
A number of people unfortunately had to return to the big city and some set out to climb an HPS Peak. In discussing the next day's plans, there seemed to be insufficient interest in further exploration of the Coxcombs. Sheephole loomed high on the distant horizon, and it was decided to climb it on Sunday.
Ten people set out for Sheephole. Wally Henry, who had climbed it previously, was called upon to be chief route finder and leader. We started above the microwave relay station at the pass, went up the deep wash to a notch on the ridge. We proceeded eastward on more gently rising terrain interrupted by another steep ridge climb, then farther east to the approach to the summit, which was a Class 2-3 scramble over large rocks. Shortly after our arrival at the summit, we were joined by a group from the Rand Corporation, all of whom had been with us on Spectre Peak the day before.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend in beautiful surroundings and perfect weather We were gratified by the congeniality of the group and especially pleased at the family participation.
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