By: Gordon MacLeod
Twelve "explorers" met in Quartzite, Arizona, on Thursday morning, then drove east to Wenden on Hwy. 60. After finding that the approach road "explored" for the climb of the high point of the Harcuvar Mountains was blocked by agricultural use, a shorter climb of the high point of the Little Harquahala Mountains (3084'), SE of Salome, was selected as an alternative. Returning to Quartzite, we then drove south about 25 miles on Hwy. 95 and west on a good dirt road into an area of the Yuma Proving Grounds open for public use (shown on Arizona Highway Dept. maps) in the Trigo Mountains, making camp in a wash with abundant mesquite firewood.
On Friday, continuing west past the access road to Mojave Mountain, highest peak of the Trigos, which is unfortunately closed to public use, we turned north on the road toward Ethrenberg and climbed the high point of the North Trigo Mountains (2170') At one point this road disappears in a sandy wash, but fortunately there was plenty of "people-power" to push cars through. A 12 mile round trip climb was completed just at dusk, and after negotiating the sand trap once more, camp was made a few miles east in-another wash, again with a good supply of firewood.
Returning to Hwy. 95 Saturday morning, we drove a few miles south past "Stone Cabin", parked just off the highway, and climbed the high point of the Chocolate Mountains (2822'). A false peak (Pk. 2459') was climbed enroute, as sometimes happens on "exploratory" trips, but the excellent walking made the after dark return reasonable. Three returned home Saturday night; the remainder drove several miles into the Kofa Game Range for Saturday night's camp and a climb of Castle Dome (3788') on Sunday. Although high clouds blocked the sun on Sunday, the weather was otherwise clear and warm throughout the long weekend. The southern approach road into the Kofa Game Range is now routed around all mining claims, but the side road leading to the south side climb of Castle Dome is blocked off. However, except for the last mile or so, the road that continues on to the north side approach should be passable for most vehicles. The road that approaches from the north, used on erroneous advice, is long and tedious and not recommended for other than very high clearance vehicles.
As could be expected, the ascent of Castle Dome via the east side minimum third class route was the high point of the climbing; nevertheless, the lesser peaks offered climbs through desert terrain completely untouched by man once the cars are left. Two of the climbs were possible first ascents.
Climbs of North and South Trigo, the Dome Rock Mountains north and south of Quartzite and Chocolate Mountain would provide an excellent extended weekend in the Arizona desert. The area is generally unspoiled and the camping is superb. Maps needed would be: Dome Rock Mountains, Trigo Peaks, Engesser Pass and Red Hill.
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