Mopah Point, Pinto Mountain
By: Sue Holloway
The usual cast of characters gathered Friday night at the Mopah trailhead Bob Hoeven, Cliff Jones, Anne Rolls, John Strauch and me. The plan was to be ready to hike by 7:30 Saturday morning so we didn't have to be in any particular rush to get ready before retiring for the night.
You look at Mopah from the trailhead and you think "no way" but I assured everyone that I'd climbed it once and it really wasn't as hard as it looked. Unlike Pico Risco that a couple of us had climbed the week before, the route on Mopah was easy to follow. Once we reached the first "obvious notch" that the guide mentions, the route was well ducked. When we got to the first ~ class area, we spotted a sling but there was no need to use it as the climbing was pretty easy. It was the narrow, steep chute that caused us some delay. To me, it was awkward... .both getting my body up ~ the notch at the top and then getting my pack off to pass it through to the other side and then squeeeeezing through. (I'm quite certain I was far more graceful when I climbed it in 1999.) Here I got out my rope and, while I belayed her, Anne quickly got up the chute and through the notch. At that point, we were all looking at the crux move. We decided to leave our packs at this point before proceeding. Cliff, John, Bob and I made the climb; we belayed Anne and then all continued quickly to the summit. It was a beautiful day and we were disappointed we'd left the cameras in our packs. We signed the register and, after resting for a bit, we started our descent. Both Anne and I wanted a belay for the down climb of the crux and then I belayed Anne when she climbed back down the chute. I was last going down the chute and it was even more awkward for me than the ascent. Finally, I made it down and joined the group for lunch.
I had estimated 7 hours for the climb and we got back at the cars at 2:29 p.m. (Boy, do I know this group or what?) By 3, we were driving out as I wanted to camp closer to the Pinto trailhead. When Gary and I led Spectre and Quail in December, we camped at a great place just off SR 62 (about a mile east of the Spectre road and on the north side of the highway) and that's where we were heading to camp tonight. It took us about an hour to get there and we quickly got set up, a fire going and happy hour food out. We took out our calendars and planned a few more trips and, generally, enjoyed another beautiful evening in the desert.
Sunday morning, John headed back to San Diego as he'd already climbed Pinto and had a big hike scheduled for Monday. Cliff, Bob, Anne and I proceeded to Joshua Tree National Park and parked at the parking area for Pinto. (Note: The mile markers, at least on the northern approach don't exist but the mileage in the guide is accurate. Also, there appears to be no requirement to sign in at the registration box unless you are camping overnight.)
We started hiking across the desert flats about 8:40 and reached the summit around 11:30 where we took a long lunch. I did Pinto by myself when I climbed it the first time and I thought it wasn't memorable just because I was alone. Well, here I was on the summit again. This time with friends and it still wasn't memorable. The others agreed with me that, except for being in lovely Joshua Tree, Pinto isn't worthy of much. Two in the group commented they couldn't imagine doing the DPS list twice, if only because that meant they'd have to climb Pinto again! (Note to self: Good point; reconsider priorities.)
For variety (and to spice things up), from the ridge we descended the steep, rocky slope and then the major wash that the guide talks about. By 2:30 we were at the cars again. Bob and Anne left first as they had a long drive ahead of them though Cliff and I weren't too far behind. Our drive home was uneventful and, hopefully, it was for the others as well.
Unlike the HPS, you just cannot finish this list by going on section-sponsored trips as so many of the DPS peaks just aren't led. It's getting connected with others of a similar mindset and interest in these peaks and then planning private trips that will get you through the list. My thanks to these special friends for joining me on these adventures!
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