Sheephole Mountains, Spectre Point, Tensor Peak
By: Erik Siering
Bob and I like beer. Our advertised desert peak climb and beer rest predictably attracted a number of college students new to DPS ways, who did well at both hiking and drinking. Occidental College's affiliate arm of the Sierra Club was represented by Jeff Norville, Bion Bartning, Shannon Shula, Allison Graboski, and "Po" Barnes. We learned this was Po's first ever hike, let alone climb-- the newcomers all did great. Familiar characters included Howard and Barbara Eyerly, Eileen Ricks, Ann Kramer, and Peter Rosmarin (down from El Cerrito).
We met Saturday morning at the Hwy 62 dirt road turnoff for Spectre Pt. Squeezing into the two available 4wds, the twelve of us cruised over to the monument boundary trailhead, narrowly avoiding a scurrying badger on the sandy road. We scrambled up the rocky gullies of route B to reach the bird-dropping encrusted apex of Spectre around noon. Our summit Wild Boar Amber Ale was soon history. As we returned to the trailhead, some of us paused for an extra credit scramble up Tensor (aka benchmark Aqua). Viewed from Tensor, the north face of Dyadic is quite impressive, with a variety of technical climbs. It merits a future exploratory visit. Another nearby rock spire garnered favorable group mention with vivid allusions to El Grandissimo; it would make an interesting peak guide route descriptor.
We drove to Sheephole Pass via Hwy 62 and the dirt Chadwick Road. However, the Ironage Road is shorter and in far better condition by comparison. Asher Waxman and Karen Leonard were waiting patiently for us here (their supply of beer intact!) A festive trailhead campfire, chowing down, and relentless beer tasting ensued. The discovery was Pete's Wicked Ale (Red), although the Samuel Adams Honey Porter was also appreciated. Over the course of numerous brands of beer and Bob's manly quesadilla's, the merits of radical feminism were advocated at length, much to the leaders' alarm. The campfire faded late into the night.
Sheephole was accomplished Sunday morning now with Asher and Karen, but less the Oxy students (go, Tigers!), who were feeling the effects of the previous day's activities. The route B approach spends more time in the gully mode than route A. This was pleasant, but slower going for the group. Rear ventilation appears to be a Sheephole characteristic; as a result of the extensive rock hopping, fully half of the group was revealing underwear and/or posterior skin by trip's end. The top was achieved in a leisurely style by eleven. Back at our vehicles, we toasted Peter's qualification for DPS membership with his French cabernet and then quaffed the remaining Spanish Peaks Blackdog Wheat beer before heading home. Enjoyable peaks with an enjoyable group and an always able co-leader.
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