Turtle Mountains, Mopah Point
By: Julie King
There was a misunderstanding as to the meeting place Saturday morning on the 30th of January for the Turtle/Mopah climbs. Carolyn West and I spent Friday night where we had camped before when we were rained out (about 3 miles off Highway 62 and .6 miles east of Grommet). We started out for Turtle at 7:00 a.m. and saw car tracks, so we knew Doug Mantle and friends were probably in front of us. At the trailhead, we found their car. We left at 8:30 going up the wash on their tracks but veered to the left after a while on what seemed a nice continuous ridge that curved towards Turtle. It worked well for us; it was a little windy but there was only one drop to a saddle before starting up turtle. We met Doug, Bob Hicks and Duane McRuer a short distance from the top on their way down. They had come across the valley over a lot of washes and had left 45 minutes before we did. We got to the top and were back at the cars by 12:30 where the guys were waiting for us.
Instead of going back to Highway 62 and around to come from the east for Mopah, it was decided that it was worth looking for a road to get to Mopah from the west. At this point we were less than 5 miles from the peak. We meandered our way across Vidal Valley on a faint road that was non-existent at times to the last wash running north and south before the saddle between the two Mopahs where we camped. The map and mileage is as shown.
We left at 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning for Mopah. We were about 1 1/2 miles from the peak. We headed for the saddle between the 2 peaks, the northern and lower peak being our destination. From the saddle, we contoured to the left around a big canyon. We got on the rocky and sloped base of the peak and contoured around to the southeast to the first obvious chute before an obvious notch. We went up the chute for a couple of hundred feet before we were able to work our way east and dropped down to a broad sloping area where we saw our first duck. We continued in this area, working our way up and north and finding more ducks until we passed through the keyhole. By now we had lost 2 people for one reason or another. From the keyhole we negotiated the little exposed area without any trouble or climbing aids and went on to the top. We had a round trip of 4 hours. This trip should be done in 4 wheel drive vehicles only. It has been pointed out that the area north of Castle Rocks may be closed to vehicles. Please check into it before using this route to Mopah. We saw no signs to that effect, but apparently a closed area is not always posted.
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