Granite Mountain #2, Sheephole Mountains


By: Lou Brecheen


Strong gusty winds and below freezing temperatures made Friday night a trial rather than a joy, but still, Sue Wyman, John Radalj, Dave Hammond, Graham Breakwell, Jim Hinkley, Rose Certini and Don Weiss met the leaders at the spot on Hwy 62, 11 miles East of the intersection of Hwy 177, where the excellent dirt road leads South. From there it is 1.9 miles to the MWD aqueduct (covered over). The road for the GRANITE #2 gravel pit bends 45 right, into a sandy wash 200 yards across, where either wide tires or extra bodies to push are required. 4 or 5 additional spots along this road are sandy or washed out to the point that care must be exercised and pushing may be required - - but our three vehicles traversed the 4 miles without undue difficulty.

Armed with Ron Jones' helpful write-up of his 1981 trip out here, we headed south aiming for the midpoint or "bulge" in the range. Three major washes had to be crossed along with innumerable smaller ones before we traversed 2-1/2 miles to a wide, yawning canyon south of both high points 3089 and 2652. We immediately gained the ridge on which high point 2711 reposes and followed that ridge along a class 2 route including some side-hilling to avoid broken pinnacles on the route, to the class 1 summit. It was lunch time.

On the return trip, we descended into the major canyon just before reaching point 2711 to test the waterfalls we were certain we would find. There were two falls worthy of note - one of which we down-climbed via a narrow, slanting chimney with almost stair-step ledges - fortunately - because this was about a 30 foot vertical drop. The washboard hike across the desert put us back at the cars at 4:00 and, with some more pushing (of the small cars, not the van) were out to good road before dark. A 43 mile car caravan put us on the "Iron Age Road" cutting through by Dale Dry Lake from Hwy 62 to the Amboy Road. We drove about two miles up the road and then simply pulled up along the side of the road, at a wide place, and camped for the night. At the super campfire following dinner. Sue led the group in a number of old favorite folksongs as she plucked her guitar a la Judy Collins. Various delicacies came from the cookpots and mixing bowls of Hinkley and Weiss and a most convivial gathering continued well past 9:00 P. M.

Sunday morning an 8-mile caravan put us at the Microwave Relay Station at Sheephole Pass. Stan Icen joined us there for the climb of SHEEPHOLE MOUNTAIN. From the very ample parking lot at the relay station, the group hiked ESE toward the canyon opening there. After 250 yards we descended a 40 foot embankment to a dry wash and just followed it up for a mile or - maybe a mile and a half. The first likely looking canyon joining ours from the east, we took and climbed out to the ridge just about the 3, 700 foot level. We continued east about 300 yards, climbing across the head of another canyon to the main ridge at about 4,000 feet. At this point we elected to climb the peak (4311) marked with a fine cairn visible from quite a distance to the northwest. Of course, when we had attained the fine summit, we could see that the real Sheephole Mountain (4613) was much higher and that we should have continued straight east from the 4, 000 ridge -- bypassing via a sidehill, the peak guarding Sheephole on the West. SHEEPHOLE is a fine desert peak with a "close to Class 3" summit block and fine views of Mt. San Jacinto. We lunched on top since it was noon and then Larry led us down in a straightforward, no nonsense manner. The consensus was that we had had a fine weekend, two good peaks and we were out ahead of the rain. But we were too early for dinner at Dino's in Yucca Valley.

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