Stepladder Mountains, Mopah Point
By: Paul Lipsohn
As the sun rose over the rugged Chemehuevi Mountains, I wondered whether we had selected the wrong range to explore. In contrast with the steep, ragged Chemeheuvis, the Stepladder Mtns. sprawled low and unimpressive to the west. However, the schedule must rule, and we gathered 14 intrepid explorers at the highway.
The first exploration was for the road north to Chemehuevi Wash. Following the well graded Turtle Mtn. Road west for 9.7 miles put us at the mouth of some faint parallel tracks heading north that proved to be the correct road. Pausing numerous times to repair washouts-- and twice to push vehicles through soft spots--we arrived at the roadhead about 10 am. From here, the range began to look more like the topo had suggested; a long range of jagged pinnacles, all anxious to be climbed. We followed the wash about 4 miles to the north end of the range, then after several false starts, climbed the steep (easy 3rd class) chute to the saddle just right of the peak. A register there revealed only about 10 previous climbers in 4 different trips over the last 10 years, Several of our group climbed the peak just north of 2951', which was more difficult, but also lower, for the exercise.
Returning to the cars we bypassed VABM "Conical" (which looks like a good future climb for those obsessed with VABM's), and regained the Turtle Mtn. Road just at dusk. Heading east to the highway, we found an excellent campsite at the junction of Turtle Mtn. Road and Chemehuevi Wash.
A lively (spirited?) campfire concluded the beautiful day and climb.
Dawn broke with a tremendous sunrise, but revealed a strong, rapidly moving front bearing down on us. We elected to chance the weather, and made a run for Mopah. Hint: Leave low clearance cars at the pavement. Following the rough road to its conclusion, we headed up the wash just as the first rain hit us. We pursued the peak, getting off route once, then back on, then finally aborted the trip at the face in a downpour. Back to the cars and dry clothes, then home again.
All climbers agreed that Stepladder should be recommended to the Mountaineering Committee for possible inclusion on the peaks list.
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