Sidewinder Mountains, Newberry Mountains


By: Andy Smatko


On this sunny, cool weekend, Frank Yates and I stirred our office-flabby muscles into a car for the ambitious project of climbing the Hi-Points of four separate Desert Ranges. This was accomplished, but seemingly easy.

Fri nite saw us sleeping out to the north of the Sidewinder Mtns, lying N of the town of Lucerne Valley. Even at nite by starlight (no moon), the desert flower carpet was evident and during the Saturday's ascent the myriads of blooms, from 0.5 mm to 2 inches in diameter were marveled at by our appreciative gaze. We climbed the summit via the NW ridge to 5,272', a broad semi-rocky hogback, mostly class 1. A pleasant ha1f hour of reflective contemplation brought the world back into proper prospective. Still being early in the morning, we next tackled the Ord Mtns, ENE from the Sidewinders. This small range has three separate parts, being the W, E, & Control, of which the middle massif reaches the highest @ 6,309'. The hi-point climb turned out an interesting class 3 via the SW face. This is a rugged mtn. well worthy of DPS status, as is the East Ord @ 6,068'. Although we didn't get to this one, it too looked plenty rugged and colorful. The desert Flower Show was equally spectacular here and these Ords are situated in a delightfully high desert setting, ideal for camping and exploring. Sat night was cool and we were visited by the large Desert Mosquito who feasted on us while we were asleep. Revenge was extracted on a colleague we caught in the car. With a wingspread of about half an inch-a miniature thunderjet. Where these mosquitoes breed or what they feed on(save people) perhaps someone knows? Early Sun AM we drove a fair distance up Rodman Mtn @ elev. 6,---', the summit pyramid being composed of large granitic blocks, similar to many Sierra peaks. After climbing this summit, we drove to a point on the road S of the hi-point of the Newberry Range. This range is within 10 miles of the Rodmans but is entirely volcanic in origin, in contrast to the granite Newberry's rounded volcano-type peak is composed of varying-sized lavitic boulders placed at 5,103'. The above ranges are indeed worthy of our Section climbs, as they offer superb views, delightful desert surroundings with considerable ground cover, and offer a workout for an average weekend.

True, they are within 500 miles of LA, not in Mexico, and the approaches are on good roads, but this should not be held against them. There are over 60 separate Desert Ranges in San Bernardino County alone, and I am certain that most of them are either rugged enough or have interesting features that we should climb them. The entire state of Nevada has hundreds of high colorful rugged mtns so why are so many climbers(or so few) entranced by S of the Border peak?

They are indeed plentiful and rugged, but because of distance, poorer roads, trouble crossing the border, visas, vaccinations, and dangers of climbing in Mexico, I feel that the few peaks we have already climbed down there are enough. Let's visit and explore America's Desert gems first!

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