Saline Peak, Dry Mountain


By: Ron Jones


Eight desert freaks met Marlin Clark and me 6:30 Saturday morning at the Saline Valley turnoff from Highway 190. We caravaned to the middle Saline hot spring (Palm Spring on the topo) where we picked up two bathing enthusiasts (Mark and Larry) who had come in two days earlier. This made a total of 12 persons. I viewed the drive in from here with trepidation as the high desert had recently gone through a period of heavy rains and the BLM couldn't tell me about the road conditions north through the Marble Bath area to Eureka Valley. Nevertheless, about 9:30 we started up the jeep road past the upper warm spring and on for about ten miles to the 3200 foot contour. This was a 1-1/2 hour drive on a road in good condition for high clearance vehicles. A VW beetle, a heavily loaded Datsun pickup and a VW van with six persons all had no trouble at all.

This roadhead put us a little south of the 3600 foot contour which I used to climb Saline Peak on my exploratory climb in January 1978 but it was the location to use for Dry Mountain on Sunday. Nine persons started for Saline Peak via the prominent east ridge (see my 1978 route description) and seven climbers made the 3800 foot gain to the summit. I think everyone considered the peak and the area worthy of consideration for the DPS list. The views of the Last Chance Range, Eureka Valley, the Inyo Range, a bit of the Sierra and the steep west front of Dry Mountain make for a great vista. That night we enjoyed all the luxuries of a typical desert campfire and Howard Yee starred (no pun intended) in telling us about his work with black holes and quasars at Cal Tech as well as Chinese poetry, language, philosophy and science.

Sunday morning nine of us started at 6:30 for Dry Mountain. We started up the left side of the prominent alluvial fan shown in the sketch below.

Following up the fan and its steep walled canyon to the end we took a short turn to the right, scrambled left up some steep friction slabs to gain the top of the ridge shown on the sketch with the red strata. We followed this ridge north east and then east, over the north shoulder of the closed 7200 foot contour west of point 7814 on the topo, lost 400 feet dropping into the prominent drainage shown on the map (which does not go as a route because of the waterfalls which would be expected) and then up the west ridge of Dry Mountain, over the south summit and on to the top. Everyone made the peak by this interesting and colorful route. Lots of bighorn sign were found and one small skull with horns. It was a 6-1/2 mile climb with a total of 5800 feet elevation gain. There is another 400 feet of gain on the climb out. While we were at the summit an intense snowstorm moved in, blanketing the ground for the first three miles of our descent down to 6000 ft. Everyone was back to the cars well before dark. My special thanks to Marlin for a good assist on this long climb. The drive out over the pass where the road to Hunter Mountain turns off was especially difficult in the dark with the snow storm, mud and rain. Ask Bill Bradley.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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