Whipple Mountains, Turtle Mountains, Monument Peak
By: Bill Banks
Whipple Mtn. was climbed from the south on a barely visible mining road. The road finally drops off into a wash. It is necessary to start up the main wash into Whipple Mtn. In order to do so it is necessary to cross over toward the east as you approach the mountain. The main wash should be followed until the choice becomes unclear. When in doubt a slight tangent is correct. Finally, it is necessary to ascend a ridge placed directly in your path and leadingnorthward to the main east-west ridge. After pursuing this ridge northward all other ridges to the right and left of you drop away. The summit is inevitable with a couple of 200 ft. drops in between breaking the monotony. Unlike my previous ascent with the Section in which it rained and blew in every direction but up, the day was sunny and warm, and the Desert was a magnificent green carpet.
Steve Smith and I then proceeded to approach Monument Peak after driving over on Calif. Hwy. 62, 23 miles east of Vidal Jct. At this point turn left (North) onto a road opposite Swanbeck's Grocery/Union 76 gas pumps. This is seven miles east of Earp, Calif. This peak looks vertical on all sides like a butte-like fortress. The area is spectacular in its lush vegetation and colorful, intriguing rock formations. It is well worth the long drive. It can be climbed 4th or 5th class as was done by the MacLeod/Shumacher party a couple of weeks before. However, a 2nd class route was rediscovered by me from the northwest. Andy Smatko and George Barnes (Loma Prieta), I heard later, had spoken of this, route. In spite of the fact that this route significantly tames the peak to 1-1/2 hours for a slow group, I believe this peak offers one of the finest views and beautiful areas in the DPS repertoire. I even spotted a Saguaro cactus which is supposed to be found only on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. This peak should be added to the list.
Later that morning we approached Turtle. The two most important things to remember with Turtle is that eight miles in you unexpectedly must make a 90° right turn onto a poor connecting road which takes you toward Mopah Pk. Secondly, once you start toward Turtle from the roadhead you should stay in the wash paralleling the mountain almost to a point directly opposite the apparent summit which doesn't appear until you've paralleled the range seemingly to the end almost opposite Castle Rock and Mopah. Then you ascend the ridge intersecting the north-south Turtle summit ridge. Stay low on your parallel route or you'll regret it. Even though this was my third ascent, I still forgot this.
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