Palen Mountains, Big Maria Mountains
By: Owen Maloy
An enthusiastic DPS group climbed both peaks in good style. We met at the Palen Pass road Saturday morning and squeezed into 4WD cars for a sandy drive to the end of the road as described in the Peak Guide. The route to the top of Palen is fairly obvious. I recommend staying a bit to the left. On the way up we followed the narrower gullies on the south (right) side where things are firmer but steeper, and got into some nice rock on the summit. Palen is not called "Red Top" for nothing; the rocks are RED! We went down more on the north side where the canyon opens up into a big wash and it is more or less open country at the top.
We then drove to Blythe and followed the recommended road which we found to be rather rough after it followed the power line for some two WD cars. We retreated into the wash and had a pleasant dinner and DPS campfire with poetry as promised.
The Peak Guide mileage from Blythe to this road does not seem to be exactly right. Unfortunately I did not keep my notes. The pole line is the clue; when it crosses the road, watch for the turn right (north) onto the dirt road. The topo is correct.
The next day we piled into the 4WD cars and drove to the start of the "B" route, not going further up the road because it becomes quite rough and the savings didn't seem worth it. The climb is straightforward, if a bit steep and loose coming out of the wash to the summit plateau. The summit is impressive with huge cliffs overlooking the Colorado River.
On the way home we were hit with one of those good ol' Coachella Valley windstorms, so strong we could hardly get the car door open at the gas station. My windshield will never be the same.
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