Mohave Peak, Needle Eye Peak


By: Dave Jurasevich


Richard Carey, Rheta Schoeneman and I spent the warm weekend of March 13-14 climbing these two peaks both for exercise and to form opinions about their possible addition to the DPS list. Although I initially planned on voting for both peaks to be added to the list, I now have some doubts about their suitability. The main concern is in the fact that they are both located within the boundary of the Yuma Proving Ground Military Reservation; Mohave being 5 air miles and Needle Eye being 0.75 air miles inside the boundary. Although we found no signs indicating the boundary of the Proving Ground during our drive approach or climb of the peaks, I still had a somewhat ueasy feeling about trespassing. Officially, I know that the U.S. Army will not grant access from US-95 to climb mountains in the reservation (I contacted base security in Yuma in late February and was told absolutely not, stay out!), so the trip felt more like a stealth mission to me and did detract from the experience. Although the peaks are both worthy candidates for DPS list inclusion from the standpoint of challenge and navigational skills testing, I think the above facts should have been brought out in the SAGE so as to present a more objective basis for evaluation of these peaks. The DPS list already has two peaks in this category, Argus and Maturango. Do we want to add more of the same to the list? Following is an account of the drive/climb along with maps.

DRIVE: Leave I-10 at the Neighbours Blvd (State Route 78) exit and drive S on SR-78 about 16 miles to the town of Palo Verde, CA. From downtown Palo Verde continue S on SR-78 about 3.3 miles to a signed turnoff Colorado River, Cibola Refuge. Turn left (E) here on an excellent dirt road and drive 0.5 miles to a tee. Turn left (N) and go 0.15 miles to a tee. Turn right (E), crossing a bridge over the Colorado River and coming to a road tee (and Cibola Refuge sign) on the Arizona side. Turn right (S) and go 1.0 mile to the signed, paved Baseline Road. Turn left (E) here and drive 2.7 miles to the signed, paved Cibola Road. Turn right (S) here and go 3.0 miles to a metal cattle guard across the road.

Continue 1.9 miles S from the cattle guard to a good dirt road turnoff on the left. Taking this turnoff, follow it SE about 100 feet then E on the high ground between washes. 4.0 miles from the Cibola Road, the dirt road drops into a wash, becomes fainter and begins heading SE. 1.0 mile after entering the wash the road forks; take the left fork, heading generally SE in a wash for about 0.7 miles to a point just N of hill 1098 (UTM 263871). Park. This is the starting point for climbs of both peaks.

CLIMB/MOHAVE PEAK: Hike 1.0 mile ESE to a saddle at 1800 ft. elevation (UTM 280864). This saddle can just be seen from the parking spot and is identified by its light colored rock, contrasting with the dark rock of the surrounding terrain. Mohave Peak can be seen in the distance at a 1100 bearing from this saddle. Continue E over the saddle to the wash below, following it about 3 miles to its mouth and a N-S running jeep trail. Turn right (S) following the jeep trail 0.75 miles to where it forks. Take the left fork, heading ESE up a wash for 2+ miles until past point 2195T (UTM 329848). Climb out of the wash here, heading right (5) to the ridge line. Contour E along the S slope of the ridge to a large wash which merges into easy terrain and is followed to the summit, some 0.5 miles distant. RT STATS: 14 miles, 3200 feet net elevation gain (700 on the return), 10 hours, Class 2. NOTES:

1) This peak can be a navigation problem. With limited daylight during the winter, a very early morning start would be essential for most groups. 2) Suggest leaving I qt. of water at the UTM 280864 saddle for the hike out, especially in warm weather. 3) 7.5' topo maps req'd: Cibola SE Ariz; Mohave Peak, Ariz.

CLIMB/NEEDLE EYE: Head SE in a wash and/or over flat terrain for 1.25 miles, then S up a narrowing wash toward an obvious, steep chute cutting the cliff face ahead. Just before reaching the base of this chute, climb left up a loose slope to a chute, which is taken to a saddle at 2000 ft. elevation. This saddle is identified by its light colored rock, in contrast with the dark varnished rock of the surrounding terrain. Drop down to the left (SE) about 150 feet to a lone saguaro cactus in a chute, then 150 feet back up talus/scree on the other side of the chute to a small notch. Sidehill beneath cliff faces from here about 0.4 miles to a light colored pinnacle with a small, shallow cave at its base. Climb through the notch just right of this pinnacle and contour about 200 feet to a chute, turning right and following it uphill to a saddle about 0.2 miles S of the peak. Turn right (N) following Class 2+ slopes to the dark summit mass, where a short pitch of Class 3 rock brings you to the top. As an alternate, there is a somewhat easier route up the W face of the summit mass. RT STATS: 6 miles, 1900 feet elevation gain, 5 hours, Class 3. NOTES: 1) Lots of loose rock on this route. A possibly better route exists from jeep road W of peak. 2) 7.5' topo map req'd: Cibola SE, Ariz.

Orocopia & Ryan Mtn March 27,1993 Andy & Wynne Zdon (The Couch Potato Mountaineers)

I think we woke up around 3am, but actually didn't crawl out of bed til 4 in the morning-all I remember was that it was too early! After numerous false starts and many stops, we got out to the trailhead for Orocopia. The directions in the DPS peak guide, for road and trail, were right on the money. The weather was clear sunny and warm - out of the wind. A nice walk for the couch spuds that we are. The views were spectacular from the summit - you could see the dead floating atop the surface of the Salton Sea, the Algodones Dunes, San Gorgonio and San Jacinto.

After sipping some sodas back at the car, we drove to Joshua Tree stopping briefly at the visitor's center to flash our Golden Eagle pass at the rangers and to check out the books. Some climber in the parking lot was playing (appropriately) U2's Joshua Tree album and we spotted Bob Cates' Joshua Tree trail guide on the shelves of the store.

En route to Ryan (on the HPS list), we stopped at the ocotillo and cholla patches. I did a quick watercolor of Pinto Mountain from the ocotillo patch while Andy read "Helter Skelter." This was the first time I have ever seen the ocotillo in bloom. By the time we got on the trail to Ryan (after passing Bob & Maureen Cates on the road), it was almost three-thirty and the desert shadows were growing ever longer. It was cold and the wind was blowing, but it was a nice walk. When we came down we walked to our wedding spot at Sheep's Pass. One year ago, we were married there. We stood in our prospective places and said "I do." It was a short, but sweet trip. WBZ

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