Old Dad Mountain, Old Woman Mountains
By: Fred Camphausen
We met at 9 AM just outside of Baker on Kelbaker Road. After signing in, 29 people began driving in a convoy of 11 vehicles along the paved road shown as solid black on the AAA San Berdoo map. We traveled about 8 mi and took a graded road to the R, then after 2 mi and another R turn, we were on a once-paved narrow road leading around the S end of Old Dad Mtn. We found that the turnoff from the Kelbaker Road can be made either at a road that is marked by a large rock-filled tire or, just beyond.this, at another road posted with a regular street sign. Once again, the AAA map proved its inimitable worth by showing all of those roads and also by depicting the short sandy portion in a different key than the paved and gravel portions that proceed to and from it. It was downhill, to the mountain base so we passed over the sandy stretch more competently than we did on our way back out. At the S end of the short range a wash opened up and a graded road took off N that beckoned us to follow. We were able to drive it about 3/4 mi before it turned E and up to a power tower (name invented here!). Starting out at about 2500 ft, we walked up-canyon and snaked along the wash until we looked up a fine, straight, and inviting open-book gully slicing upward through the limestone bluffs supporting the suspected main Old Dad summit. Climbing this gully was generally easy and it brought us to the slopes just N of the peak. Old Dad Mtn 15' topo, 1750-ft gain in 2 mi o.w., Cl. 2, Old Dad Mtn climbed by 27 people. We returned to the cars and found Betty McCosker happily painting up the desert in acrylics.
After coaxing certain recalcitrant vehicles over the sandy stretch on the road out we headed again S on Kelbaker Road to 1-40 and then drove to Danby, a siding near old Route 66 W of Essex. Time could have been saved had we continued across I-40 directly to 66 and then E to Danby, as pointed out by Beth Henry who had done it before. We drove through Danby to Florence Mine. Sandy spots in the road had deepend since a year earlier, infuriating one hiker in his yellow Chevvie, but we all made it unassisted to our somewhat cramped camp area at a road fork in the Florence Mine area. Shane Smith and Eric Henry directly demonstrated their prowess at building a fine fire and an old tire was brought into the action to produce a brilliant heat, with some convincing arguments presented to Joe MeCosker that it was his spare tire that was going up in smoke.
Rain lightly pattered us awake during the greyish dawn. People stood around Campy and Ski as they lightly snoozed on through first light in the back of blue "Graceless", the more vocal of them muttering threats of actually starting out on the climb with nothing more than a can of Dr Pepper for breakfast. Then, finally, we started up the narrow and dry creekbed to a saddle seen S of our camp. We continued over to the main wash leading N from the peak. After waiting awhile for the separated trail-sweep group of 5 climbers to come up, we learned that they were't coming up, but were instead side-hilling up to a ridge that Steve Smith knew would go. This was the one that contains P4882. The rain perservered. We in the main group struggled up the slippery and grungy canyon to the ridge, then up and over a minor bump to the summit of Old Woman Mtn. The rain continued. We were finally rejoined with Steve's group. Stomping around just out of the windzone on the ridge, we awaited our consolidation so we could decide the route back. It was obvious that if there was a better way than the grungy canyon in the rain, then we should take it. Steve's just-under-the-ridge route sounded excellent so we took it. It went excellently, and we took it all the way down to the low saddle which led us back into the small, meandering wash. Just after sighting the last little rise before the cars one member of our group took a terrible ankle-wrenching fall. She carefully made it back on her own and, later, reported no long term pain or other problem. With rain still falling lightly we moved out in our vehicles and. drove to Barstow where, by pre-arrangement, we went to where each of us thought there was a Denny's restaurant. Except there is no Dennys Restaurant in Barstow. Oh well, I'm sure that if there was one there it would be a good. one. Actually, now, I'm not so sure. There WAS one in Barstow, only it sold out and in now called Jonny's, or something like that. So it goes. Barstonians are either dumb or they have taste!
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