OverviewThis is a very fast way up Cowhole. I believe our car-to-car time, with route-finding and some lazing on top, was less than 3 hours. The round trip is about 5 miles, but most of the route is over a flattish, fairly level desert with benign brush. You can make this route as hard as you want, especially in the central hidden gully.
Since so few people climb this mountain -- and usually do so by the NW ridge -- the loose rock has not been pruned. Typically, there is one party signing in every two years, and the majority take other routes.
Andy Smatko probably took either the leftmost or rightmost route (photo above) in his 1968 DPS trip. Neither is the easier NW ridge route described by Andy Zdon in “Desert Summits”.
Getting ThereSee the instructions on the main Cowhole page.
Route DescriptionFrom the parking spot, head almost directly south across the desert toward the prominent drainage on the north side of Cowhole.
You will pass a rocky outcrop on the right (W), and the route will steepen; you can follow the left bank of the drainage into the rocks, for easier travel. At this point, look south and identify the features in this photograph:
The right (western) route goes mainly class 2, with a few class 3 climbs over dryfalls, and marginally class 3, frictional limestone near the top. The left (eastern) route is mostly class 2, over scree in the upper portions. Both routes end on very frictional limestone for the last push to the summit. The middle route, up a steep hidden gully, initially looks promising; however, there are some class 3+ approaches, which end at a chimney blocked by a chockstone (the red x in the photo above). The chimney is quite climbable, though a bit wide; however, there is no simple non-technical exit at the smooth chockstone.