Granite Mountains #1, East Ord Mountain


By: Paul Bloland


I packed my car early on Friday, but before departure that evening, it became necessary to return home briefly. Otherwise I would not have received in time, a disheartening message on the answering machine from Ruth Bloland in Baker, Ca. She relayed that Paul had taken a bad spill while they were on Old Dad Mountain, north of Granite, and suffered injuries in need of medical treatment. Since two rated leaders are required on Scheduled DPS Outings, Granite Mountain No. 1 and East Ord Mountain had to be lead as a private trip. Picked up my three passengers, Kathleen Costello (on her first mountaineering adventure), Steve Durkes and Laura Schwartz, then headed for dinner in Victorville. Attempted to reach Paul and Ruth at their home from there and then continued toward destination.

Granite Mtn No. 1. Found the turnoff from Kelbaker Road, 9. 7 miles north of I-40, as indicated in DPS Guide No. 1. Took the north road, the better of two adjoining roads roughly thirty feet apart (other is faint), to where a number of roads converge. Here Chris Shaw drove up behind my car; perfect timing and a welcome sight. Continued straight ahead on a steeply descending road about one hundred feet down to a sandy wash. Here the road forked; both roads (initially mere tracks) pointed west in the same general direction. I opted to take the left fork road roughly one-half mile to its end. We camped in what is a very small (per-. baps room for 3 tents), somewhat wind-protected location with fire rings; however, the low ground level would make it unsafe in flash flood weather. Should have taken the right fork road as Chris discovered while scouting for two expected persons after our arrival. Jeeping in, we had momentarily seen a dim light and thought possibly it was where they were located.

Drove to the DPS Guide roadhead Saturday morning (bring clippers if you value your car's finish), Passed between two high, telephone-pole-like posts, out of wash and on to a firm road that is deeply rutted in places - where we saw smoke about one-quarter mile to the south. We stopped driving while I hiked to its source (crossing the left fork road). I fou' not only a smoldering campfire, but a primitive appearing cabin with a 4 WD truck parked outside. The entrance was open and inside was a lone individual who it turned out was not on our trip (from twelve originally going on this beginning of schedule outing, listed as a "good DPS intro," participants devolved to five). The cabin which looked bare and abandoned possibly could be used for an outing "social hour"; especially during poor weather. I believe it is reached from the left fork road.

Completed driving to the roadhead which is marked by a towering boulder surrounded by flat open area (in DPS Guide, about three miles from Kelbaker Road). There are also fire rings. The summit of Granite can be seen from there. We followed directions, but what is described as "canyon" is small and goes up the mountainside more like a gully or chute. Suggest stay on 230 bearing as directed and contour into the canyon instead of heading for its base. Near top, the canyon angles north (right). The summit is the east (right) of two bumps that soon come into view; the other bump is Cl 4. There was cow dung practically all the way up Granite Mountain in this, the East Mojave National Scenic Area; little trace of Bighorn sign. Our route was wooded, almost verdant compared with Kelso Sand Dunes to the north. However, bleached bones, possibly those of a mustang, reminded us how almost waterless this range in certain months of the year. Spent about thirty minutes on top. We were just back on the road, about one hundred yards from our parked cars, when Laura tripped and bruised her left knee after we had been gone six and one-half hours without incident.

Saturday evening, following a good dinner at Rosita's in Barstow, we drove as planned, rough ly ten miles to the main campground in Calico. It is situated in a recess with sites dens e1v packed together, and was crowded (perhaps because of a Western Art Festival; part of schedule of annual events). We stayed in the nearby ORV area. Almost empty, few people must know of its existence. Slight hum of distant I-15 traffic and barrenness, were only noted disadvantages. Both locations have showers. Turn left at first intersection after entrance kiosk, and immediately left again. Visited Calico Ghost Town Sunday morning. It is commercialized; not at all like Bodie. The combined campground/ghost town fee of $9.00 per vehicle, was not collected when we arrived after closing and was waived when we departed.

East Ord Mountain. Camp Rock Road is wide and mostly well-graded with terrible dust the only problem. From Calico, it took us forty minutes to reach Power Line Road where we were supposed to meet David Hammond to climb together. We were on time but did not make contact. Learned later this was due to a mix-up. We continued to roadhead along a mine road that is heavily rutted in places (saw road to the west, our left, leading to another mine). Parked near what appears like a small rough concrete slab of irregular dimension. Twisted sheets of corrugated metal lay on the ground nearby, an eyesore. Although East Ord Mountain is considered an easier peak than Granite, only Chris, Steve, and I climbed it; our time was two hours and thirty minutes (also the rated time in DPS Guide). Meanwhile, Laura nursed her sore knee and Kathleen kept her company. There appear to be a number of good routes; we returned by way of a ridge that led straight down to our cars. It was interesting to see gourds (of the genus Cucurbita), an uncommon sight, growing in such an arid area; yet it must get some rain, as we passed cattle warning signs on Camp Rock Road. The planned hike to and soak in Deep Creek, warm and hot spring, south of Hesperia, had to be cancelled because we got down too late and the spring is off-limits after dark. On our way home, we regrouped for dinner at Griswolds in Claremont.

The trip was marred by Paul's mishap. When I telephoned him on Monday, he told of having tripped and fallen forward against sharp volcanic rock, suffering injuries to both hands including three badly dislocated fingers and numerous lacerations to face and body that required suturing. Seeking medical attention, had taken Ruth and Paul from Baker to Barstow, then to Kaiser Permanente in Fontana. Sobering how even a simple Cl 2 climb can be so potentially dangerous. They contacted the Ranger and Sheriff, believing that if their answering machine message was not received by me, I would contact the Departments.

David Hammond telephoned me on Monday to reconstruct how we failed to meet. He had arrived at the intersection of Camp Rock and Power Line Roads forty-five minutes early, waited for us, then drove north, up Camp Rock Road waiting again at another place before solo climbing East Ord all the way from there. He saw us on the summit from a bump to the north and did a loop, approximating DPS Guide directions down. Took him seven hours round trip for the climb. Sorry Dave was unable to join us; glad he got the peak. Not the average trip if there is such a thing; but still good company, peaks, and weather.

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