By: Dave Jurasevich
On the stormy Saturday of March 19th, Les Hill and two of my brother-in-laws, Frank and Arthur Lin off for a climb in the Castle Peaks, a spectacular array of needles just E of New York Mountain in the East Mojave Nat'l Scenic Area. Our goal was Benchmark "Dove" , the highpoint of this small cluster of peaks. The day started out just before dawn with a cold front and rain soaking us in our sleeping bags, so we bailed out for a short drive to Stateline, NV and a civilized breakfast at one of the casinos. Upon leaving the casino we took notice of the weather and decided to drive back to Castle Peak and have a go at it. En Lee and Rachel (my wife and daughter) stayed behind at the vehicle while Les, Frank, Arthur and I went for the peak. We summitted in spite of the weather, which pelted us with a furious hail storm en route to and on the summit. As though to make up for the inconvenience, Nature did reward us with a sighting of two desert tortoises on the paved Ivanpah Road as we were leaving. Following are the Drive and Climb directions as well as Round Trip Stats for this interesting peak.
DRIVELeave I-15 N at the Nipton Road exit. Drive 3.5 miles E on Nipton Road to the signed Ivanpah Road. Turn right (S) here and go 9.5 miles to a railroad crossing. Continue another 2.4 miles to the end of pavement, picking up the excellent dirt road for 4.8 miles to the signed Hart Mine Road. Turn left (E) here and drive 4.9 miles of good dirt to a fork. Continue straight on fair dirt for 0.9 miles to a junction. Turn left and go 2.35 miles to a point where the road crosses up and over the top of a large earthen dam. Continue 1.05 miles to a fork, bearing left and going 0.7 miles to a junction. Continue straight 0.3 miles to a saddle and park just off the road.
CLIMBFrom the parking spot there are four prominent pinnacles visible at a 40" bearing. BM "Dove" is the second from the left. Cross over a barbed-wire fence adjacent to the road and head x-country toward the peak, hiking class 1-2 slopes to the notch between Dove and its neighboring pinnacle to the south. Turn left (N) at the notch, climbing class 2 terrain to the summit mass. Circle the base of the summit mass to its E side and a 20 foot, low 5th class cliff face with a crack along its right side. Climb the cliff and a steep slope directly above it to an obvious 10 foot high, 3rd class chute. Climb the chute and walk the last 15 feet to the summit register. An alternate route, avoiding the 3rd class chute, goes up and left from the top of the cliff face to the summit on a somewhat more exposed slope. The descent can be done safely by either 1) rappelling off or down-climbing from the summit to the base of the 5th class cliff face by utilizing a large rock anchor near the summit or 2) rappelling off or down-climbing from the summit to an anchor setup at the top of the 5th class cliff face and then rappelling the 20 feet down from here to its base. Option 1 will require about 1 XO feet of rope, slightly more than a standard 50 meter rope length, for a double rope rappel. Option 2 can be accomplished easily with a standard 50 meter long rope.
RT STATS2 miles, 600 feet of elevation gain, 3 hours.
MAPSI recommended AAA San Bernardino County Road Map for the drive, Castle Peaks, CA 1984 Provisional 7.5 minute topo for the climb. Peak is at UTM 671154.
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