Teutonia Peak, Castle Peaks, Dove B.M.
By: Chris Libby
Parking at the well-marked trailhead at the summit of paved Cima Road, I followed the pleasant trail to the summit area of Teutonia Peak. Bob Michael's excellent description of the geology and natural history of this 1-1/2 mile hike can be found in the DPS archives on the Internet.
The trail ends at a notch between two of Teutonia Peak's many granite summits. The block above to the south, which seems a strong contender for highest point, appears to be 5th class on this side. To climb it, drop back down the trail 100 yards and traverse south past a large Juniper to a crack and chimney system on the west side of the peak. By staying to the left, one can reach the "summit" via a 4th class, classic chimney move. Alas, there is no cairn or register on this peaklette, and two possibly higher domes are seen 1/4 mile or so to the south. To reach these, go back to the trail and rather than going to the original notch where the trail ends, cross the next notch to the north, which leads to easy slopes on the east side of Teutonia Peak. Traverse south, on a faint use trail to the area of the two domes seen previously, where a short brushy gully leads to the gap between them.
The southern of the two is the easier (Class 3) but, alas once again, has no register. From the notch between the two domes, i.e. just south of the "true summit," a short, awkward, 4th class chimney leads to the broad summit, where there is a Gordon McLeod/Barbara Lilley-placed register. This is at GPS coordinates 0630657 X 3907060.
Descending to my car, I followed Dave Jurasevich's directions to Castle Peaks farther east (see "Castle Peaks, 19-Mar-94" in the DPS archives on the Net). After crossing the "low-earthen dam," the road got progressively worse, apparently washed out by last September's thunderstorms, so I camped 0.6 miles farther on at an excellent turnaround with large junipers for shade (this was an established camp with room for a whole group). This added about three miles of walking on dirt roads (almost as fast as one could drive them), but the overall hike is short enough that it wasn't a big deal. There is also a route description in Andy Zdon's book, "Desert Summits," but Dave's directions are a bit more detailed. The picture of Castle Peaks in "Desert Summits" is very helpful, however. In this photo of the four Castle Peaks, the highpoint is on the left, while "Dove" VABM is second from the left. Despite what the route descriptions say, I found that "Dove" is not the highest point.
But first, I followed Dave's directions to "Dove." The saddle SW of "Dove" is best approached from the left, or NW, side. I found the 20 foot, low-5th class cliff face to be the only difficulty, with straightforward 3rd class at the top (although I had beautiful weather on this Easter Sunday climb, whereas Dave summited in a "furious hailstorm"). There was an old, wooden, surveyor's tripod, but no register, which was surprising, judging from the number of rappel slings below.
Looking at the NE-most summit of Castle Peaks, it appeared higher; so I scrambled down "Dove," with a short, rappel at the 5th-class, and hiked over, traversing easy slopes under the NW side of "Dove." From the saddle between "Dove" and the highpoint, one can ascend the center of the highpoint's SW face, up a yellow gully (passing a cave on the left big enough for an entire Sierra Club group) to the final cliff band. In scouting both left and right, I found nothing but much bigger cliffs so, returning to the SW side, I climbed the only apparent line of weakness on this peak, a fifteen foot, 4th class section. Scrambling up 2nd class to the right, a twenty foot 3rd class ramp leads to the summit ridge, from which the top is a short stroll to the left. The small summit plateau reminded me of a smaller version of that on Devil's Tower, and I walked over to the NE edge to scout the last side of the peak for possible routes. Taken aback by the sheer drop on that side and having stirred up a bee hive in the ground, I decided it was time to leave, as I had no particular desire to downclimb 4th class while being attacked by bees. There was no cairn or register on the summit, but there was some old wire, probably from surveyors, and "Dove" definitely looked lower from here. I made a quick, small cairn and left.
Looking at various maps upon returning, I compared the heights of the two peaks. Two possible reasons for the confusion are the fact that the NE peak has no benchmark or name, and is just BARELY off the Castle Peaks, CA. 7.5' map (on the Crescent Peak, NV. 7.5' quad). According to the 15' and 7,54 maps, the NE summit is at 5840'(+) 1797 meters versus 5829'/1776.7 meters for "Dove." So the NE-most peak is the clearly the highpoint of the four Castle Peaks. All in all both summits were your typical exposed, but fun, volcanic necks, and well worth the effort
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