Mopah Point, Turtle Mountains
By: Greg Roach
This was a great weekend trip. The weather was warm and sunny; a pleasant change from the rain and cloudy weather we have been having the last few months. The desert was covered with fresh new greens growth; a sign that we will have a great wildflower season this year.
We climbed the Mopah peaks from the west. Saturday morning we met at the "large rock cairn" on the road into Horn Spring. The large rock cairn has been reduced to a small rock cairn. It is easy to miss in the dark but at the same location 6.9 miles in from the aqueduct. From the cairn we followed the tracks going east through the wash to a well marked road on the other side. We drove towards the trailhead for Turtle Mountain then a half mile before the trailhead we took the right fork which takes you past Castle Rock the dominant features on the landscape and into Vidal Valley. After driving 2.7 miles from the fork there is a track going east toward the Mopah range. Turn right here. This road is shown on the Mopah Peaks 7.5 min map. There is an elevation of 682T meters at this junction. The map shows this road going north passing between the "D" and "A" in Vidal Valley. We could not find where the road shown on the map turns northeast instead we continued east to the large wash west of the Mopah Peaks. We drove up the wash and our progress was stopped by vegetation. This is a beautiful isolated desert area. We did not see any other people until we returned to Highway 62 Sunday.
To climb the Mopah Peaks we hiked up the wash and then turned up the wash coming down from the north side of Umpah peak 1083 meters. From the north side of Umpah we followed the large gully up towards the peak. Where the canyon meets the first rock wall; we took the smaller left branch of the gully. A short class 3 section takes you above the first rock cliffs. Continue up this gully until progress is stopped by rock cliffs. Turn left here and continue around to the east side of the peak. On the eastern side of the mountain is a class 3 gully which leads to the summit. There is a large rock pillar on the south side of this gully. Umpah is a fun class 3 climb and would make a good addition to the peak list.
After enjoying the view from Umpah we retraced our steps to the saddle between the Mopah Peaks. From here we headed to Mopah. We dropped down in the gully north of Umpah to about 650 meters then continued up the southeastern side of Mopah passing one small ridge coming down from the southern summit. After crossing the ridge we continued up the gully that comes down from the notch between to the two summits of Mopah. Below the notch at the base of the cliffs turn right. A little before the cliffs you will see ducks and can find the use trail and the route described in the guide. This is a fun class 3 climb also.
We camped in the wash that night and had a great pasta dinner that Mirna made and, of course, Scot brought the DPS Special wine that fit the occasion. Thanks to Bob Michael for sharing some of his knowledge of geology with us.
Sunday we drove back to the trailhead for Turtle described in the guide. Another route would be to start the hike for Turtle from near Castle Rock and follow the wash up to the ridge that leads to Turtle Mountain. It would be about the same distance maybe a little bit shorter. However, I didn't think about taking this route until I was on the peak enjoying the view of the surrounding area. Oh well, maybe next time.
Thanks to everyone for a great trip. Our group members were Scot Jamison, Bob Michael, Steve Wicks, "Nevada Bob" Greer, Bill Bradley, Barbara Reber, Mirna Roach, and Scot's dog "Sadie".
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