Mid Hills, Woods Mountains


By: Andy Smatko


Desert Peaking in Spring

Over the May 3-4 weekend Bill Schuler, Chuck Denton and I arrived at our favorite High Desert area in the region SE of Cima, and more precisely around Gold and Round Valleys. Our aim was to climb a few of the High Points in the Mid Hills and two sharp peaks lying between the Woods Mtn and Table Mtn. There are few unclimbed summits left anywhere in California and we were most pleasantly surprised to make 5 first ascents on which summits we built cairns and left registers. On Saturday we climbed Pks. 5,840-ft., 5,879-ft., and VABM 5,817-ft. in the Mid Hills west of Round Valley. We also ascended Peak 5,800-ft. (which appeared to be higher than 5,817-ft.) and lies l/3'mile S of it. This sharp granite tooth is the striking peak seen in the Mid Hi11s as one travels S from Cima. This ascent was the first since 1ast year (1968) when Bill, Ellen Siegal and I had made the first ascent of this peak. It is Class IV in difficulty via the N face. All other sides are Class V to VI. Following this, we also made the first ascent of a granite tooth immediately S of the above, also Class IV. To cap off the day we climbed Pk 5,807-ft. just W of Black Canyon and it likewise proved to be a first ascent.

Saturday's exertions cooled our ardor for peaks on the following day, and we made only two ascents. The two peaks are 5,632-ft. and 5,502-ft. lying between Tab1e Mtn. and the northern end of the Woods Mtns. Peak 5,632-ft. proved to be a first ascent and was good Class III with one Class IV pitch. Peak 5,502-ft. had an old decomposed cairn but no register. These are sharp peaks when viewed from the Black Canyon road. One final pinnacle just N of the old Government Road was climbed by Bill Schuler and it was a direct aid (prussik) climb -- also a first ascent and it was made in a light snowstorm.

The Mid Hills range is about ll miles long and it abounds in fine granite mountains and pinnac1es worthy of challenging the best rock climbers. Only a few miles away Table Mtn. and the Woods Mtns. are volcanic in origin, a striking contrast indeed. This High Desert area provides a pleasant climate for late spring climbing. The wildflowers were at their blooming best and made the climbing that much more enjoyable.

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