South Guardian Angel, North Guardian Angel
By: Paul Lipsohn
The third annual South Guardian Angel trip went much as the two previous trips-a full party, magnificent weather and breathtaking scenery--which combine, in my opinion, to make this the premier peak of the Section.
After the short backpack to camp, we set up the fixed ropes in the usual places, although the very low water levels in the canyon made our exit points considerably easier than previous years. While in the canyon, we encountered several parties, both coming and going--one of which removed one end of one of the fixed lines with unknown intent.
Saturday morning we enjoyed an early start and soon were basking in the 70ish sun atop the peak. We attempted to pick a route on the rather forbidding looking face of North Guardian Angel but were screened from a large portion of the lower route by the steepness of the canyon walls. After a leisurely hour and a half on top, we returned to the canyon and camp, with several scouting for a good starting point for the canyon exit on Sunday. Passing down canyon we met a group from China Lake Search and Rescue that had come in to do South G.A. and exchanged pleasantries and climbing notes with them. They camped about 1/4 mile below us, which, unfortunately for them, was insufficient to drown out the world's record rendition of "Old Macdonald" and other more ribald campfire songs.
Sunday morning broke with leaden skies and a chill wind, and our North G.A. assault party dwindled to 6-our 27 defectors having had enough of camp songs and threatening rain.
Returning up the now familiar canyon, we continued about 100 feet past the exit for South G.A. and started up a chute through the brush that soon had us on the plateau, with only two short stretches that could be called easy class 3. On the plateau we passed through a spectacular defile, crossed a small amphitheater, and emerged it the base of the dome that is North G.A. Working slightly to the right, we climbed a shallow crack for about thirty feet to a small tree, then worked diagonally left and up, encountering only one, perhaps two pitches of minimal class 4, and emerged on the summit ridge. Looking across the gorge, we could see our China Lake friends (who had started simultaneously) just reaching the top of South G.A.
Since the wind was cold and the register sparse, we didn't linger long on top, and retraced our route to camp uneventfully. Another leisurely afternoon in camp-- the last fine wine in the evening, and a quick pack out on Monday concluded a beautiful fall weekend.
Some observations: North G.A. can easily be done from the north by means of the road passing across Pine Valley. I would call the route class 3, maybe very easy 4th, but a short rope might come in handy at one point. The route from the canyon was enjoyable and takes about as long as South G.A.--four days seems to be too long a trip, even given the beauty of the area..a three day trip is much more practical and allows plenty of leisure time. The area abounds in magnificent canyons and seldom climbed peaks, and is no farther than a Sierra week-end..ideally suited for fall climbing.
For those wishing to do the canyon route.. our exit point was just south of the wash shown just south of Russell Gulch. We headed almost due north, emerging in the saddle between North G,A. and Peak 6750'.
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