Rabbit Peak


By: Wes Shelberg


Climbing Rabbit Peak from the west is great. An ultimate desert experience in the brooding, forbidding Santa Rosa Mountains. Few do it. These fortunates are pleasantly confronted with loneliness, ruggedness, harshness, dryness, steepness and significant elevation gain on the Santa Rosa Mountains' west side, incised by numerous steep, narrow drainages. The Santa Rosa west side reminds one of various ranges in Death Valley National Park.

Rabbit Peak was day-climbed solo from the west (see accompanying Topos A and B) on 14 December 1980, the shortest daylight of the year. The round trip took 20-hours, but included a five-hour bivouac. The bivouac was planned pre-trip to occur someplace high on the return between sunset (5 PM) and a full-moon rise (estimated at 1 0-PM) over the Santa Rosa ridge line. The totally dark bivouac occurred on schedule and conveniently at the narrow saddle (UTM 696973 on the Clark Lake NE Quad) that joins the main Santa Rosa ridge and the broad highlands massive extending westward. A very cold, fitful snooze was had between some cholla after donning long johns. With full-moon rise, the broad highlands massive and desert beyond became radiant and it was relatively easy and enjoyable to return to the vehicle. The precipitous northern edge of Coyote Mountain was a guide to vehicle location (no GPS in 1980). Ever notice that a flat sandy desert, like that of Clark Valley, appears snow-covered when illuminated by a brilliant winter moon?

Driving: See AM San Diego County Map (coordinates C-13) and Clark Lake Quad (CA, 7.5-Min, 1959). Two-wheel drive is probably OK if Clark Lake is dry. Proceed east for 0.5-mile from the Pegleg Smith Marker in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the Rockhouse Truck Trail. Go north for 5.4-miles (passing an eastward spur road at 5.1 -miles) and park at a wide, hard-dirt area (UTM 643915). The topo shows Benchmark Noll nearby but I have never been able to find it. There is a radio seismograph with a short antenna on the hill (maybe 100-ft up) forming the north edge of the parking area.

Climbing Route and Topos: Accompanying Topos A and B show the 1980 climbing route. These are composites of the Quads: Clark Lake (CA, 7. 5-Min ,1 959), Clark Lake NE (CA, 7. 5-Min, 1960) and Rabbit Peak (CA, 7. 5-Min, 1959).

Climbing Stats: 14-mile round trip, 6023-ft elevation gain, Class 2 with (maybe) a few yards of easy low Class 3 immediately east of the bivouac saddle.

Collateral Information: I just purchased copies of the aforementioned and other topos for $5.00 each at the Map Centre in San Diego. Reflecting on that outrage, I thought DPSers might be amused at the Government 's prices for standard topographic quads (15- or 30-Min) available in the early 1950s. So I include below price information that is printed on one such map:

"Note: -
Effective on and after October 1 ,1946, the price of standard topographic quadrangles will be 20 cents each, with a discount of 20 percent on orders amounting to $10 or more at the retail rate."

Incidentally, the new price was up from 10 cents each.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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