Mopah Point, Chemehuevi Peak
By: Tina Bowman
We had a group of ten for Mopah: Allan Chang, Keith Christensen, Paul Garry, Ron Hudson, Ken Jones, Doug Owens, Kathy Rich, Chi Truong, and the leaders, Tom and Tina Bowman. Saturday night Virgil Popescu joined us for Sunday's climb of Chemehuevi.
Saturday morning we left the parking spot at 7:00 a.m., following the usual route to Mopah per the guide without any trouble. Several folks used a belay at the first bit of real climbing, and we belayed everyone up the awkward crux. Thanks to Ron Hudson for leading the crux and belaying there. Tom helped keep the rope well aligned through several carabiners just above the pitch since the belay anchor was a little ways back along the ledge. We were on the summit at 11:00, enjoying a rather hazy view and the fine weather. On the way back to the cars, some in the group saw two tarantulas.
We caravanned to highway 95 and then north to the dirt road to the parking spot for Chemehuevi, where we found a flat area the was great for camping. This is where Virgil met us. Since Doug's Honda Insight had trouble with the sand at the beginning of the dirt road, Doug and Chi didn't join us at the camp but stayed in Needles instead and, amazing but true, hiked in the 4.2 miles in the morning to meet us well before we started our hike to Chemehuevi a bit after 7:00.
With another day of fine weather beginning, we went right to the mouth of the canyon and headed up that wash after a nice break. The only problem was that we should have been one wash to the right in the really big wash. Because it looked familiar, I led us up this smaller canyon without paying attention to the map. This was great until we were stopped by a dry waterfall. A big, smooth dry waterfall. I sec now after checking my notes from when I was there in January 2004 that I went up that same wrong canyon and crossed over to the main wash. So, no wonder it was familiar. Someday, I might learn, but there's no real evidence to suggest this. All I remembered was that I had summited without problems (perhaps 1 was brain dead after doing Stepladder that morning). Oops!
While the group rested in the shade and studied the map, 1 went left up a steep, somewhat loose but easy slope to where I could see that the ridge on the right hooked up to the plateau area we wanted to go to. Tom went up on the right to the ridge, and 1 called to the others to join Tom. 1 crossed easy terrain above the dry waterfall and joined the group on the ridge where we found many ducks as well as cholla. From there we had no troubles up to the summit of Chemehuevi, arriving there just after 10:00. We went down the route described in the DPS guide. Most people liked our way up better-less cat claw, fewer short waterfalls to go around, fewer boulders slowing progress in the steep part of the wash. When we were out of the canyon and heading toward the cars, we had a rare treat: two bighorn sheep rams crossed the broad wash and headed up to the ridge separating "my" canyon from the main route. They frequently stopped to look at us before disappearing over the crest of the ridge. We were back to the cars about 1:15 and soon on our way home after a fine weekend of DPSing.
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