Spectre Point, Granite Mountain #2
By: Fran Smith
Having met forty miles east of Twentynine Palms, twenty-one hikers caravaned four miles to the roadhead for Spectre Peak. Following an easy route 11/2 miles eastward up a sandy stream bed, over a ridge, and contouring to the right for another mile brought US into a large canyon, This is one of the cleanest rock filled canyons in the DPS, and it is my favorite climbing canyon, Upon reaching a small meadow, and an excellent place to rest and eat lunch, you are within thirty minutes of the summit, which is to the south, All participants made the top, and Jim Jenkins was congratulated as having just completed his requirements for a DPS emblem.
As on two previously led climbs of Spectre, the group now divided into three smaller sections. One section left to climb Dyadic, a rather challenging secondary peak. A second section selected to return via an easier climb of Tensor, and the remaining group chose to return via the earlier route. When within one hundred yards of the cars, the leader almost stepped on a desert tortoise. Carrying the tortoise back to the car area, it became the focal point of interest and comments from the group for some time, The anatomy of a tortoise was discussed when a question arose whether it could enter and leave its shell at will, Everyone having returned, we caravaned back to the highway, drove twenty-two miles eastward on the highway and six miles southwest to an excellent camping location at a gravel storage area.
From here, nineteen Sunday starters eagerly covered the three miles of open desert towards the large stream bed canyon which is the left of two possibilities. This canyon is followed all the way to an obvious saddle which can be clearly seen for an hour before you reach it. Here the real rough climbing starts. The best route is to climb directly up the steepest part to the left of the saddle, veering to the right only when quite close to the ridge. Attain the ridge as soon as a safe route directs, then stay on or near the ridge. After Granite Peak is in sight, no problem remains; just a matter of time and effort, and the summit is reached. After lunch and rest on top, we were ready for a different route downward. Checking the possibility of leaving Granite to the east, the leader had confidence that it would go okay. And so it did. Dropping down into the canyon to the east any of several ways, the stream bed causes no trouble of consequence except for one place. A rather steep drop into a walled in area of the canyon becomes beyond class two, but an easy contour to the right before reaching this area will allow an easy descent around it and back to the stream bed one-half mile later. As you leave the canyon, a shortcut to the left onto the desert floor gives you a straight shot north to the roadhead, It is about 31/2 miles with six or seven stream bed crossings. Our hardest element of this return route was the forceful wind that hit us head-on all the way back on the desert floor. At the end of a climb is not when this handicap is appreciated, but with no better alternative, everyone leaned into the wind and was back in camp by mid-afternoon. This being my third climb of Granite, I believe this descent route to be quicker and easier than the ascent route, especially so if the wind is of a more temperate nature.
With a weekend of climbing in perfect weather (almost), and no other problems, we left the flower covered desert for the cities, One group of eight stopped at San Gorgonio Inn for dinner, and another group was mentioning a similar stop near Diamond Bar. My thanks to Eivor Nilsson for her fine help both days of the outing.
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