Chemehuevi Peak, Stepladder Mountains
By: Larry Tidball, Barbee Hoffmann
We had originally scheduled Potosi to go with Chemehuevi, but the heavy January storms had left that 8500' peak under snow. A quick call to the participants rescheduled the meeting point to power line road turnoff for Chemehuevi. In spite of the recent Storms, the road was in good shape, and the passenger cars made it all the way in to the trailhead. Some of the scheduled participants canceled with the change in peaks. Joining us on their first DPS trip were Harry Rocky and Eileen Seligson. The other participants for the weekend were; Wayne Norman and Rex Hyon.
The hike across the desert brought comments on how green the desert was. On arriving at the base of the mountains, I was deceived by the flat lighting from the sun rising behind the peak, and distracted by the running water in the creek In following the creek up the canyon it eventually became apparent that we were one canyon too far to the West. However, our false canyon had a running creek, a spring gushing a stream of water 2" in diameter horizontally out of the rock side wall of the canyon, and a 50' high running waterfall. Just above this waterfall, an easy saddle led us over the narrow ridge separating us from the correct canyon to our right. A 100' loss from the saddle put us in the canyon which we followed up to the saddle at 3120'. From the saddle an easy scramble led to the summit where sheltered from the wind we ate lunch and looked out towards Havasu and the River.
After the climb we drove over to the Turtle Mountain Road to locate a campsite. Five miles or so in on this road it is crossed by a sandy wash. Concerned about the passenger cars going further we chose to camp on the East side of the wash where trees gave some shelter from the wind In fact we found a spot for the camp in the wash that was completely out of the wind.
In the morning we consolidated into the one available 4WD and a 2WD pick up for the rest of the drive into the trailhead for Stepladder. If the road was in bad shape ahead, I didn't want to have more than one car to worry about pulling out. Barbee led us across the desert, up the wash and then the zig-zag ledges to the summit ridge. From the notch in the ridge, Barbee looked right to the northern most summit as indicated by the 3rd edition Peak Guide. Having been there before, I led the group south to the central summit containing the register. From this point, it seems that the northern summit is lower. The new Peak Guide reports that the USGS thinks that the northern summit is higher. Our newcomers were happy to reach a summit the class 2-3 scrambling being new to them. Where is the correct high point?
Although the group turned out to be a small one, the weather held, and we all had a good time.
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