The Regular Route (the obstacle course), III, easy 5th class

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
scramble in the desert with aid climbing
Time Required:
Half a day
III, 5.0 if you use the ladders, 5.hard if not

Route Quality: 4 Votes

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The Regular Route (the obstacle course), III, easy 5th class
Created On: Nov 17, 2002
Last Edited On: Dec 24, 2012


Alois making his way towards...Alois nearing the starting point at the notch between the two towers.Photo: Deb Castro.
Exactly 1.8 miles after you pass the "yellow" color building at the entrance to the Chemgold Mine (described on the main page), there is a turn on the left, a BLM rough road, marked by indistinct BROWN stake, A278 and a white rectangular reflective road marker. Recently, the main dirt road was plowed and all the side roads branching from it were blocked by piles of sand. Locating the A278 road stake was a bit difficult. Follow this road for about 3.5 miles WEST until it ends in a wide area suitable for camping. From there hike up the wash for about a 1/2 mile to an obvious sharp tower on the right, Here turn left and pick up use trail which goes to the wall of the monolith. From there slant left, up a chute, to a notch between the west and east side of the formation. The route from a distance looks much harder and steeper than it is.

BTW. There is another technical route on the peak. It was put up in the mid 30s by Glen Dawson and a partner. I read about it some years back in the Sierra Echo Newsletter. The route was several pitches long and (if I'm not mistaken) about 5.8. If I find more specific info about it, I will post it here.

Route Description

Put your rock shoes on at the notch. From the notch, climb about 40 feet slightly right and up, then traverse left for about 60 feet. Steep ramp goes up and right to the first ladder. Climb the ladder and follow the ledge left to the "Step Across" a step over the three or four foot gap between two towers. Cross this gap and follow the ledge for about 100 feet till roof covered ledge allows you to hike right and up. At the top keep going up and right untill you reach the base of a very steep wall. A bit steep, rocky gully goes left for about 25 feet. Hike up the gully and then follow the ledge some 250 feet left till you find another ladder. Climb the ladder and follow the false summit ridge to the top of the false tower (walking terrain). Climb fourth class face to reach the top of the false tower (fixed pin, bolt is found at the top of the false tower). Hike about 50 feet to the gap between the false and the real summit. Two bolts are found there.

Now you have couple of choices. 1. Rappel down to the notch and (on your way back) climb the step (5.8 or 5.9 strenuous) either on a lead, or, if you left the rap rope in place, do the step as a TR. 2. If you cannot climb 5.9, leave 2 etriers (approx. 12 feet total), and on the way back, tie into one strand of the rap rope, have your partner belay you on the other and aid your way back up to the false summit.

After rapping down, walk to the summit. Retrace your steps on return all the way down.

If you would like to climb the route free, the dificulty might be 5.9- climbing back to the notch and to bypass the two ladders is about 5.10 (the second ladder, my estimate).

Otherwise the scramble and a full use of the ladders, bolts, slings and etriers results in nothing harder than exposed, but easy 5th class. This is a great, fun climb in a great setting. It looks much harder that it really is, especially from a distance.

The climb takes about 3 hours from your vehicle (4WD or high clearance) parked at the end of the A278 4WD road. Descent to the car takes about 1.5 hours. Total 5 hours car-to-car for us normal people. The climb could take much longer (whole day), if you get lost on the route, so give yourself extra time by starting early.

Do not leave the area, before checking out the Picacho State Park and the Colorado River. It's lovely in the winter. Recommended.

Essential Gear

High clearance or 4WD vehicle, rock shoes, harness, belay/rap device, helmet, 50m rope, a few medium wires, 4 medium SLCDs, several slings, water, a bit of food and many extra slings and etriers if you are going to aid up the false summit. Start early, (in the winter time) it gets dark really early. Again, if you get lost (I hope you can easily follow the ledges with this write-up, but) this outing could take most of the day. The camping area at the end of the A278 road is large enought to accomodate several tents, fire ring is also provided. So bring some wood, good food and wine and enjoy the place.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

The Regular Route (the obstacle course), III, easy 5th class

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