Whipple Mountains, Big Maria Mountain
By: Ann Perkins
Nine climbers (Ldr. Dave Perkins, Asst Ldr. Ann Perkins, Bob Hoeven, Anne Rolls, Gene Mauk, Virgil Popescu, John Thau, Ed Herrman, and Michael Gosnell) gathered on Saturday morning just off the Lake Havasu Road to caravan in to the roadhead for the Whipple B route. This road to the War Eagle mine is passable to high-clearance 2WD's.
Leaving Edna Erspamer to hold down the fort, the mine, and the cars, we hiked across the desert and south up a series of washes and canyons generally following the directions in the peaks guide. A steep slope led to the ridge. We then contoured around a rock outcropping up the ridge to the summit, which was quite windy.
We had been surprised the night before to see all the lights of Havasu City across the river, and while eating lunch we had an even better view of the urban sprawl - amazing growth in just a few years. In search of a less steep route down from the ridge, we followed an initially pleasant slope that ended up at a steep dry waterfall, and had to do a brief exploration and detour before working our way back into the canyon. (Ah, the wisdom of going down the same way you come up!)
Arriving at the cars at about 4:00 (7 brs. rt), we said goodbye to Michael and Gene who were not climbing on Sunday and headed toward Blythe and the Big Maria roadhead. There are several good camping spots along the first mile or so of the powerline road, and we located one in the dark, built a fire and heated up Edna's black bean and sausage stew and Bob's split pea soup which we enjoyed along with appetizers and salad.
The next morning we drove to the roadhead for Big Maria - in the opinion of us all, this is a definite 4WD road. We headed into the canyon and followed the directions which led up to the ridge, and over a couple of bumps to the peak. Again, the summit was very windy so we huddled under some rocks a bit lower down for lunch. The main surprise on the way down was how much longer the canyon seemed than on the way up!
We returned to the cars at about 3:00 - a 6 hour round trip - and caravanned back out the powerline road to make sure the rocks didn't claim anyone's tires. An enjoyable weekend trip with a number of seasoned veterans, most of them close to finishing the list.
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