Big Maria Mountains, Palen Mountains


By: Bill T. Russell


Bob Pohl, Steve Langley, Dean Slaughter and George and I constituted this trip. We met Saturday morning northwest of Blythe where the power line crosses the Midland Road and drove north on the power line road. The new 7-1/2 min map "Big Maria Mts SW" does not show the southern two miles of this road although it is the best segment. About a mile north of Black Hill the road degenerates to one passable by 4 wd only. Fortunately Dean Slaughter had one, so we all piled into his Jeepster and drove to the power line tower in the pass at UTM coordinates 133508. From here we hiked east and then southeast to the high point of the range and new summit at point 3381. We left a can and register book. Three of us then hiked north along the ridge for about a mile to the old summit which is shown on the new map, Big Maria, NW, as elevation 3379'. The Traverse between the new and old summits is enjoyable with a few easy 3rd class spots. The views from the two summits are about the same but the old summit has a somewhat more interesting approach although neither one is very noteworthy.

We descended, drove out and then drove past Inca and out the well maintained Arlington Mine Road (it is being used by an active mine in the Little Maria Mtns) for about 5 miles. Here the new road to the active mine leaves the old road which continues west to the old Arlington mine area and then goes past the north end of the McCoy Mountains. We camped off the, road in the sandy wash in section 14, having a leisurely afternoon and evening.

Sunday we again piled into the jeep and pushed westward across the desert floor on a fair truck trail, which is shown on the Auto Club map but not on the topos, to the base of the Palen high point at about 826438. We climbed up the chute which is on the left looking at the peak and came down the peak into the north-south gully on the east side of the peak. The descent route is the more interesting. We were back to the highway at about 1330 and back to L.A. in time for dinner.

It was a good outing with good people and good weather. Dean Slaughter's 4 wd vehicle made the desert floor approaches a lot faster than hoofing would have been.

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