Castle Dome Peak, New York Mountains, Hart Peak
By: Ron Jones
John McCully, Wendy Ruess, Gail Hanna, John Rhodehamel, and Leora Stoler met Maris and me Saturday morning for an exploratory climb of Castle Pk. The Castle Mtns are very prominent on the horizon east of New York Mtn. They are highly mineralized and have supported both gold and clay mining for many years. The area is very scenic but has a number of old roads and mines & probably doesn't qualify as a wilderness area. It is the site of a prospective, enormous open pit cyanide leaching process to recover additional gold. The water required for recovery by leaching may curtail the flow of the nearby year-around Piute Creek at Fort Piute on the old Mojave Road.
You can drive to just below the summit area of Castle and with a walk of a mile or mile and a half we gained 500 ft and stood on the east side just below a Cl. 4 chute leading up to the summit. We had scouted much of the base of the peak and we felt this was the best spot to ascend. Maris led the loose short pitch and 5 others took a rope to the top. There are great views of the eastern Mojave from the top. Dick Banner many years ago reported a small "fumarole" or steam vent near the summit with a luxuriant growth of green moss. We searched the jumble of rhyolitic rocks but saw no evidence. Rather than an active steam vent I wonder if there is a small cave that "breaths", expelling cool/moist air during the day.
We then drove several miles on fair to good dirt roads and made an uneventful Cl. 2 walk up Hart Pk. That night we camped in the mouth of Carruthers Canyon and, sad to say, we experienced a tire fire.
The next morning we hiked passed the Giant Ledge Copper mine, where Leora stopped to gather samples, and up the standard route to the cold breezy summit area. Thanks to Maris for his sense of humor and a good assist, and to all the participants for a good trip.
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