By: Dave Jurasevich
On Saturday, February 18, 1995, Carol Snyder, Charles Hummel, Robert Poche and I climbed Signal Peak via the Palm Canyon route (Route A in the DPS Guide). The following day Robert and I went on to bag Mt Cunningham, the highpoint of Arizona's Dome Rock Mountains before returning to LA, while Carol and Charles headed down south for a climb of Castle Dome. Having done Signal twice before by other routes, I had no knowledge of the Palm Canyon route except for what others had reported and I had included in the 3rd edition guide. During the course of the climb I found the guide's map to be OK but the written description to be extremely poor! Following is what I hope others will agree is a realistic description of this intricate and challenging climb.
DRIVE: Exit Arizona Interstate 10 at the town of Quartzsite (Exit 17). Follow the highway signs east through town to the US Highway 95 junction. Drive approximately 18 miles south on US 95 to the signed "Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Palm Canyon" sign. This sign is located 0.7 miles south of highway milepost 86. Turn left (E) and drive 7.2 miles of excellent dirt road to the Palm Canyon trailhead parking lot.
CLIMB/ROUTE A: From the upper end of the parking lot, follow a trail 0.5 miles E up Palm Canyon to its "official" end at a viewing point for the Fan Palm grove high in a slot wash on the north wall of the canyon. Continue E up the narrow canyon to where it broadens out at about the 3000 foot elevation level. Bear right (SE) here, heading uphill to gain the large canyon to the south. Follow this canyon E to within 200 feet of its head, where thorny trees, brush and a headwall bar further progress. On the north wall of the canyon, ascend a 45 foot third class pitch just right of a dry waterfall. Continue up a brushy chute about 200 feet to the crux pitch, an 80 foot high fourth to low fifth class cliff face. Climb up the left side of the cliff about 60 feet, then traverse right about 15 feet across the face to a notch, where much easier climbing leads to the top of the cliff and a large belay boulder. The lead can be protected by various methods along the left side of the cliff, however the traverse across the face is on rather smooth rock with meager hand and footholds, particularly as one approaches the notch. From the top of this pitch, head up and right around a corner, climbing NE on a series of rock steps up a whitish colored watercourse. At this point two options are available; either climb to the visible notch directly ahead and then downclimb to a second notch on the crest of the ridge or, bear right and traverse along the base of a cliff face to the above-mentioned crest notch. Either route will require some low third class rock scrambling. Once at the crest notch, it is easily identified as the junction between reddish-colored rock on one side and white rock covered with green lichen on the other side. From slightly below this notch on its western side ascend the white rock by any convenient route (low third class in a spot or two) to the ridge line above. From the ridge line the peak can be seen as a large whitish mound 0.25 miles to the ENE. It's any easy walk from there to the summit. NOTE: A 50 meter (165 foot) rope is required for the rappel off the crux pitch. All climbers should be equipped with a seat harness, carabiners, and a rappel device. In addition, a safety helmet is highly recommended for all climbers because of loose rock near the top of the crux pitch.
RT STATS/ROUTE A: 2800 feet elevation gain, 4 miles, 8-9 hours
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