Van Winkle Mountain
By: Bob Michael
I'm not big into repeating peaks (I'll never duplicate Linda McDermott's 2X feat), but it was fun and interesting to climb Old Woman on her 2X Extravaganza from the other (southern) side to how I did it many years ago. Next morning, though, I "needed" a "new" peak to burn off a pancake or two from breakfast. Previous cruises on the Kelbaker Road between Kelso and 1-40 had acquainted me with Van Winkle Mountain, a "stand-alone" mass that is part of no larger range, to the southeast of DPS Granite Mountain #1. The peak comes to a pleasing sharp point when viewed from the north. The no-hassle paved roadhead was another plus. I parked a few yards off the pavement on a fairly good dirt road 5.1 miles north of the 1-40/Kelbaker interchange. I could have driven 1/2 mile or so east, but the route is short enough as it is, and I wanted a hike on this luminous day.
The spur which leads to the symmetrical summit is very obvious as one approaches from the north; all other routes are too cliffy. The spur flattens out at point 1281 m. A rolling traverse follows, leading to the fairly steep and loose last few hundred feet up the northeast side of the summit ridge. There is a mercifully short traverse to the high point along one of those tedious coxcombs of basalt blocks with tough brush in the cracks.
The summit had an old weather beaten sign with the word "Van Winkle's", but no register, so one was placed. I cracked open a Heineken in celebration of all things Dutch, while enjoying fine views into Nevada (Charleston and Arizona (the Hualapai Mountains), over the top of the Marble Mountains to San Jacinto and the Old Womans (Old Women?) and, in the other direction, the nearby rock climbing garden on the southeast flank of the Granites.
Bob Michael - 2/04
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