Whipple Mountains, Monument Peak, Savahia Peak


By: Bill Banks


Twelve climbers caravaned to the start of the climb of Whipple. The last stretch of road doesn't show on the Auto Club, San Bernardino County Road Map, but it's a feeder road first to the east and then to the north of the Chambers Well road jct. The road finally washes out just around the corner from a deserted miner's mobile trailer homesite.

There's a climbers trail now leading toward the mouth of the main southwest Whipple wash along the back of a bajada. The route is described in my March 73 Newsletter write-up, perhaps Vitz will lead a future group up his "easy way". It appears it would be quite a wash route.

Although we began at 8:3O am the clear blue Calif/Ariz sky was hot. The temperature was about 75F at the outset, and during the day down at Vidal Jct it climbed to the 90's.

The assistant leader was unable to be with us, but Al Campbell volunteered and shepherded the flock.

The flora is as varied and as rich as in any DPS area but the wildflowers are no where near the abundance of last year's incredible display of beauty.

While climbing the ridge, I encountered what was to be the first of two rattlesnakes. He was coiled on a shaded ledge. He didn't spot us till a BLM recreation specialist, Steve Weiss, began taking close-up eye ball camera shots of him. He then sounded his warning, quickly calculated the range, distance and number of our group and decided to retreat into his burrow.

Everyone reached the summit by 11:30. The return to the cars was uneventful and hot for Dan McLean, the Akawies, Elliott Snyder, Wes Shelberg, Eliz. Cohen, Martie Hastings, Mary Garcia, et, al.

Our timing was perfect it seems since just as we reached the paved hwy. Paul Lipsohn, Fred Bode, Gene Gail, and the Petitjeans met us as prearranged. One group had climbed Chemehuevi and the other had done Mopah.

Together we caravaned to Parker for provisions and thence to our car campsite just north of the Cross Roads.

At 7:00 the next morning, 22 of us proceeded north on the well maintained road to the start of the climb of impressive Monument Peak. The day was pleasantly cooler and breezier and the northwest chute to the summit massif was negotiated by 9:145. We all marveled at the incredibly beautiful view. Monument's view has got to be one of the best of all the DPS peaks. To some non-climbing (poorly conditioned) canyon wading types, perhaps most of our DPS peaks are simply "crud-heaps", since by their definition they are just a pile of rocks; but to the majority of DPS climbers the beauty of these "piles of rock" and their challenge to the climber who enjoys the effort required to reach their summits, it is an experience that is very nearly a religious one. To the free spirit of a true mountaineer there is no "one way" or necessarily "easy way" that is sought to the summit. Every climbers experience and way of enjoying the mountains is valid. It is in this unspoken, common understanding that climbers seek the fellowship of other disparate types. It is this free spirit that separates the climber from car enthusiasts and others who would have us drive a thousand miles across several states simply because they have endured the same.

After about an hour of worship on the summit of Monument we descended to our cars for the caravan to Savahia. The Savahia road branches off the same Whipple/Aqueduct service road. It is in poor condition in its upper portion for any but a VW, but is passable. The road parallels the west side almost the entire length of the peak. Savahia is an impressive volcanic plug especially when viewed from the east. With Gene Gail assisting this time we ascended the next to the last (northerly) crease in the side of Savahia's backbone, staying just out of the crease (to the south of it). Half way up I again encountered a rattlesnake. This one too was coiled on a ledge but it was so well hidden that it was difficult to see even when looking directly at it through overhanging vegetation. This one struck at Dick Akawie who had disturbed its repose with a pebble, and I dispatched it to the home of the Snake God. I feared that the narrow descending route down the crease might bring us into double jeopardy and this time from the top we'd never spot him under the ledge overhang until too late. Our ascending route brought us to the ridge just south and out of view of the summit. A short ridge climb with precipitous views over the edge to the east brought us to the summit. If we'd climbed one more crease to the south or north we would have encountered some 3rd class.

Savahia is a tid-bit the same as a Nelson, Pleasant, Marble or Navajo, might be nothing you'd climb or drive to unless you were already in the area for a Mopah or Whipple.

Everyone who attempted the weekend climbs made it to the top and back. We all departed for home with good memories and shared experiences.

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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