Chuckwalla Mountains, Eagle Mountain #2
By: Les Stockton
Saturday at 7:30 we met at the Chuckwalla offramp 9 miles east of Desert Center. The Friday night temperature on the ground was 24 and in sandy high winds. At 6:30 am your leader checked the only other cars (two) in the area.
One individual was having trouble making breakfast and the gusty winds made a sand fog in the distance. We discussed the probability of canceling. The other two present, bedded down in a camper, would go either way. I thought the original individual was going to Desert Center for breakfast but he didn't return. If he thought the trip was cancelled, my apologies. When 19 tigers finally appeared, the trip was definite; with clear skies, what's a little gusty sand? We drove the 13 miles on asphalt paralleling the freeway and turned at the easily missed signpost (and I mean just post) indicating the pass, and then another 10 miles on a relatively good dirt road to the pass. You are tempted to stop here. Do not do so. Proceed 3 miles on the road until you are driving south and watch for a large duck (cairn?) on the right. Stop here and proceed on foot to the primary wash. Stay in this for one-half mile and do one of two things: continue up the wash climbing to the primary ridge by the easiest slope (all loose rock) or climb the steep ridge (in a higher classification) on good solid rock. The "beginning" group (some new to the section) all negotiated the more challenging route successfully. Proceed up the primary ridge to the obvious summit. Wonderful views with a lowering of the wind velocity netted a leisurely 2 hour summit. Back to the cars down the crud slope with only one minor fall and we were headed for the Cottonwood Springs campground. (This is a $2 kick now.) At 8:00 am the dawn weather was coldish (30 degrees) and windy.
After picking up Nick at the picnic area (like that one, Vitz?) and the other new arrivals, we eliminated the civilian cars, the VW's and 4-wheel drives negotiated the 5 miles to the roadhead, carefully avoiding the soft sand. Twenty-one DPSers climbed the primary ridge under intermittent winds and blue skies. Beyond the final saddle some climbers varied from the right-hand slot and proceeded up the large boulder jumping route--thus increasing the difficulty of the crux of the climb. On the summit, we ate out of the wind and were down the slopes (under the lightest snow and threatening skies) and back to the campground by 2:30 pm. Four stalwarts wanted Orocopia, so we said goodbye to a fun climbing group and raced down the eight miles, crossed the freeway, then to the left one-quarter mile up the frontage road, turning right on the unmarked dirt road and drove the 8 to 10 miles (?) to end of the road on the flat plateau. (Stay on the left fork of the only choice early on the road and you can't miss.) You head up the large wash over small waterfalls. Proceed past a headwall and about one-half mile later climb an obvious ridge to the summit. The pointed summit is not the highpoint. The domed summit that you might bypass on the way is the real mother. The bombers completed the round trip in one hour and 45 minutes, beating the dark and the weather. Total freeway all the way home completes the trip in another 3 hours for a 3 peak weekend - only 12 to go for some of our "beginners." Thank you, Sam Fink, for your help and your presence - Always!
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