Mopah Point, Umpah Peak, Turtle Mountains


By: Ron Jones


A group of fifteen climbers met at Vidal Junction Saturday morning for the 12.2 mile caravan north on Highway 95 to the Mopah turnoff. We were able to drive in about 5.6 miles on the road until it deteriorated beyond passenger car ability. After hiking about one mile up a broad wash we headed south in another drainage toward the east side of Mopah. After about half a mile we followed occasional ducks up an easy but occasionally loose slope to a little saddle on the south east ridge of the peak. Here we dropped into a broad chute leading toward the unseen summit. This chute was followed on the left side until it ended at a wall and an overhanging ledge. At this point we climbed a short easy third class pitch and followed easy ledges on the left to a long narrow second class slot. Then up the slot and just over the top left up a short third class pitch (no one required a belay but do take a rope), over to a small saddle and an easy scramble to the summit. This year marks the 110th anniversary year of the first recorded ascent of Mopah by an unnamed Chemehuevi Indian being chased by the army in 1870.

After a short lunch break ten climbers descended south to the Mopah-Umpah saddle and climbed the 27 foot higher Umpah (3541') by a direct east face route with some low third class. All agreed that Umpah was a fine climb. We returned to the cars where, because of the time, we should have camped but I had agreed to meet Walt Kabler and Mary MacMannes on the Turtle Mtn road that evening.

The Turtle Mtn road is reached 0.6 miles east of the railroad crossing at Grommet, shown on the Rice Quadrangle (or 10.6 miles east of Rice). Passage north over the canal was easy and camp was made a dew miles off the highway. The next morning we continued on to a point 7.1 miles from highway 62. At this spot we were somewhat confused by Al Campbell's description in the Sage #128. The road we were on (which is not located as shown on the Vidal Quad) continues north, presumably to Horn Spring. A faint track intercepts this road about 150 degrees around on the right. Just beyond this junction is a cairn on the right of the road. Turn southeast onto this faint track which will soon take you across a series of rough wash crossings. Currently these are at the limit of what a passenger car can do. Follow the track southeast a short distance and then north again on good dirt road for a total of 5.9 miles from the intersection to the obvious roadhead at 2200', near the prospect shown on the topo.

Thirteen of us started up the wash paralleling the north-south Turtle ridge. We followed the good advice of Al and also Bill Banks and stayed in the wash until we were nearly due east of Turtle Mtn. At this point an obvious ridge was climbed and then we crossed to a more northerly ridge which led to just below the summit. Our descent was by the same route. My thanks to Bill Bradley for a fine assist.

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