Signal Peak, Castle Dome Peak


By: Gene Gail



Neko Colevins' car got into a serious disagreement with a fire plug and Gordon MacLeod had to work all weekend, so Gene Gail and Bob Herlihy suddenly became the leaders of this trip. After assembling at Quartzite the group caravaned toward Kofa. On the road in from the pavement Jim Sinnett's car quit functioning. Ten or so men leaned over the motor and agreed that Jim needed new points and a coil, so he dropped out of the climb and headed for town for new parts. Unable to locate them for his alien car, he became a bit apprehensive, but his female companion asked him to try cleaning the points before panicking further, upon which the car ran perfectly.

In order to accommodate all climbers, Gene and Bob divided the group, Bob taking the emblem hungry up Kofa and Gene taking the exploratory ones. Jack Bradford furnished a belay for Bob's group and they soon made the peak up the direct Palm Canyon route. Gene led the other group, with Bill Banks out in front, to the first east-west ridge north of and separate from the Kofa massif. This contained a high sloping peak that was climbed from the northeast after traversing the base of a south facing cliff about 300 feet below the top. The highest point in this ridge system is a thumb shaped peak standing high enough in the sky to be prominent on the skyline as seen from the paved road. Approaching, it appeared impossible without direct aid, but there turned out to be a third class route. From the northeast shoulder, a short class three chimney at the top of easy ledges leads to an 18 inch shelf that goes down to the left, then up into a gully that leads around to the left and up to the peak. There were no sign of previous ascents, but perhaps all our predecessors were as neat as we were.

On Sunday the group caravaned to the west of Castle Dome, and Gene offered to lead a route he had climbed years before which leads directly up the west face. Don MacLean tried his forehead out on a rock as we worked our way up a steep canyon, and more first aid kits appeared than you can find in a drug store. One band-aid and one tired joke got the party started again. As we. started up the face itself, Gene tried the wrong route first, then zig-zagged up some spooky third class. One huge slab of rock whistled down the mountain missing Bob's head by an inch or two, then disappeared into the sky below us. One of the women in the party said upon reaching the summit, "If I had known it would be like this I wouldn't have come, but now that I've made it, I'm glad I came." For some reason the entire group preferred to descend the easier east side.

After a long traverse around the base of the dome, Gene decided to take the group back a canyon to the northwest which looked much easier and faster than the way of ascent and he assured the group that it would end up on the road a half mile from the cars. It turned out to be one of the longest half miles in DPS history, but everyone got back to the cars in time to return home by bedtime.

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

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