Granite Mountain #2, Providence Mountains
By: Bud Bingham
On Sat we met at the high point of the Amboy-Kelso road and caravaned from there on a mining road to a site generally north of Granite Mtn, This is probably the shortest summit route. Others have climbed it following a beautiful but rocky ridge from the SE.
We hiked up a canyon to the north summit, but some did not accept this as the real high point since we couldn't find a register, and hiked over to another high point to the south. Bob Michael held up the resistor and persuaded us to follow. The class 3 summit block held nobody back and 18 who started the climb signed in at the real(?) summit.
Most of us drove over to the Kelso sand dunes in the PM and enjoyed the sand hiking and the prolific wild flowers of the season. If it had not been for the dips in the road we would have enjoyed the many wildflowers on our shortcut to Mitchell Caverns State Park but the bumps and haste made it impossible to focus our eyes on anything.
In late afternoon we reached the park, where the Ranger informed us of "Operation Desert Strike". At one time he estimated l0,000 vehicles in the valley below the caverns. One evening he discovered an Army movement up to the Park. Upon parking his truck across the road, the Ranger told the Army Officer in the advanced group to stay out of the boundaries of the State Park. The Officer told that he had orders to bring his troops to the base of the Providence Range. The Army retreated after a talk with higher officials but the damage done to desert regions below was tremendous. The vegetation may come back but It will take many years for the ecology to recover.
On Sunday prior to the Providence climb, Bob Michael provided us with some eco1ogy of the region. About 8AM the climb began a short way from the campground in a canyon which leads to the summit-that is if all the correct steep gullies are found. We gained the main ridge just south of the peak and had little difficulty in the ascent. The more direct route was chosen coming home, but not without penalty-more cactus, catclaw, and loose rock. Fifteen of the 18 found the register.
Those who still had steam left went on the 3PM caverns tour.
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