Blue Angels Peak
By: Bob Michael
Just about every County Summit in the southern half of the state is on somebody’s Angeles Chapter list. We in the HPS have nine (San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Kern, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, River-side, San Diego). The only nearby county to be slighted is Imperial; its apex falls below the magical 5000' mark. But, it is a pleasant shorter hike in scenic granite boulder country in the high desert chaparral transition zone, and it would be a fine addition to the "Lower Peaks" list.
As a lifetime mountain trivia buff, I've had a long interest in county sum-mits; when I lived In Denver in the 70's, I compiled the (first?) list of Colorado county summits - a mighty List indeed! - and got it published in the Colorado Mountain Club magazine. So I was delighted to recently run across the new book "California County Summits" by Gary Suttle (Berkeley: Wilderness Press, 1994) in my local outdoor shop. I was happy for a chance to use the book in the field - it now sports some well-earned dings and creases as it sits on my coffee table. The book gives an excellent descrip-tion of the peak.
The peak is in the extreme southwest corner of Imperia1 County, not too far from DPS Jacumba Peak, where the Peninsular Ranges march south into Baja. It is quite possibly the southernmost named peak in the state; a sil-ver boundary monument is plainly visible a couple hundred yards south of the bouldery summit.
On the day after my DPS list finish on Little Picacho, Patty Kline, Rich Gnagy and I breakfasted in Yuma, and headed east on I-8 . We got off at the In-Ko-Pah Park exit astride the San Diego County line; the dirt access road (see accompanying map) is very obvious. Suttle says to park at the indi-cated point, near some high-tension power lines, this is pretty much the reasonable end for 2WD's, so we left Patty's "Amanda'' there and hopped into Rich's Jeep to drive the 4wd road, very steep in places but not too awful. We parked at the indicated saddle where the road deteriorated and we weren't sure we could turn around ahead. The road ends at the mine pros-pect shown the topo. (Worth a detour nice Muscovite mica tablets and smoky quartz specimens from a pegmatite vein.) Suttle describes a ''use trail" going south from here; all we could see was an animal trail which fizzled in about a hundred yards, so we just contoured south through huge granite boulders and mild chaparral to a gentle east-west spur ridge at 4280+. Head east on this ridge and get into the drainage between Blue Angels Peak and its craggy northern forepeak; a natural easy path through the chaparral goes up this drainage to the north ridge of the peak. Finish on the eastern side of this summit ridge to avoid major bouldering and brush.
The summit view is terrific. It offers a different perspective than I'd ever seen, from as far south as you can be hereabouts without leaving the United States. You're near the eastern escarpment of the Peninsular Ranges here, and the view stretches north over the basins and ranges of Anza-Borrego - Whale, Granite, Rabbit, Rosa Point, Toro Peaks - all the way to the snows of San Jacinto. To the south, the backbone of Baja gathers itself for its journey to Cabo San Lucas. To the southeast, the international boundary - striking a little north of due east - is plainly visible in the Imperial Valley desert. South of this line is the vast playa of Laguna Sal-ada - and the mysterious, inaccessible west face of DPS Cerro Pescadores in the Sierra de Cocopah. We placed a Brown Bear Mountaineering Club register and gave ourselves plenty of summit time to enjoy this unusual place, so remote from our usual climbing haunts.
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