Martinez Mountain, Rabbit Peak


By: Bill Henderson


Reprinted from the DPS Newsletter #2, April 7, 1950

March 11,12 - Martinez Peak. Thirty two climbers. What, you dont believe it? Well, it's true. Here are their names: Marie Smith, Ralph Harlow, Alan Balsam, Walter and Bernice Heninger, Henry Greenhood, Mildred King, Miles and Louise Werner, Alda Van Pappelendam, Tom Kendall, Gus Hamilton, Paul and Pauline Green, Eleanor Ruth, Don Kelly, Bill and Betty Crooketon, Willard Dean, Irene Charnock, Edna Newgreen, Minnie Dexter, Peggy Fredrick, Bob and Emily Bear, Lloyd Balsam, Rose Marie Kent, Paul Love, Agnes and Muir Dawson, Margaret Jones, and Gene Kendall - and they all made the summit. This surely must be some kind of record for numbers of persons successfully accomplishing a Desert Peak mission. I'll try to check records and let you know next month if there have been any larger parties. The leader and assistant leader, Bill Crookston and Irene Charnock deserve a great deal of credit for a successful trip.

The group packed in Saturday afternoon to Cactus Springs, a distance of about 5 miles. Camp was left at 6:30 Sunday morning and the summit was reached 4 hours later at 10:30. Margaret Jones, Wiles and Louise Werner, Marie Smith, Ralph Harlow, and Bill Crookston also climbed Sheep Mtn. by going directly from Martinez. One hour was required to go from summit to summit. Martinez is one of the favorite desert peaks from most members' standpoint. After each trip it receives considerable praise for its foliage and picturesque summit area. I predict it will be scheduled again and again, and always enjoyed with great enthusiasm.

March 25,26, Rabbit Peak. Hikers clambered all over this potent advisary last weekend, - at least it was conquered from two directions. Jerry Zagoritos, leading a group from San. Diego consisting of Jerry Hall, assistant leader, Gene Vinson, Barbara Lilley, and guests Sam Williams, Roger Gump, and Joe Levine, climbed Rabbit from Clark's Well by the route used by 25 Sierra Club members in 1948. Fritz Sloman and Peggy Cullins, arriving too late to join Jerry's group, struck out on their own. Without maps or any knowledge of the mountain they made the summit from the south by a longer, but probably much easier route.

Jerry's group started their back-pack at 9:00 A.M. Saturday morning. At 2:30 they made camp at the foot of the main steep ridge on the west side of Rabbit Peak. Leaving camp at 6:15 the following morning they reached the summit at 8:35, thus requiring an actual climbing time of approx. 8 hours. Descent time was 6 hours.

The party read the poem "Wild Rabbit" composed by Chester Versteeg, and left on the summit by the 1948 group, felt, poetic, and composed an extra verse, to wit:

And for flavor, add snow and fog
even worse than L.A. smog.
When it's so cold the fire freezes
and snow and sleet come on icy breezes,
Frozen Wild Rabbit.

From the poem, you can judge the weather! Fritz and Peggy, not knowing the route Jerry was using, looked the mountain over and decided to try the south end. Using the Truckhavon road leading east from Borego, they drove to within a mile of a prominent ridge running due south of Rabbit peak. Their hike started from a point 10 miles airline south of the peak. A good camp spot was found at about 4000 ft. On Sunday they reached the summit around noon, just 2 hours after the San Diego group had departed. The actual climbing time was 8 hrs. or so.

This route had been given consideration before, but had not been used because it was twice as long as the Clark Wall route. However, Fritz reports the terrain so gentle and ideal for walking, and the views from the ridge so impressive, that this route should be much preferred over the West route. A highlight of the trip for both parties was their sighting by each of a mountain sheep. Maybe the same one.

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

DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section