Mopah's Negleted Next Door Neighbor
The peak can be seen from many different positions that are at least 20-30 miles away. Umpah Point is definitely spectacular looking from a distance, with it's pyramidal shape and its sharply pointed summit. The view from the top is spectacular and well worth the effort. There are not many parties that make the ascent of the peak, although it deserves more attention since it is right next door to Mopah Point. If one is into desert mountaineering, this peak is totally worth a climb. The easiest established route is by the North Face (Class 3). However, the East Ridge (4th Class)
is the more popular avenue of appraoch to Umpah's summit.
Stopping By And Visit!
Recommended maps: AAA San Bernardino County Map to drive to the trailhead and Mopah and Savahia Peaks SW(CA) 7.5 minute topographical maps to climb the peak from the trailhead. Andy Zdon's "Desert Summits" is recommended for additonal helpful information about the peak and traveling and climbing in the desert and is a very useful book.
If one is coming from various locations in the Southern California area, drive to Interstate 10 and head east as if going to Palm Springs. Take Highway 62 in a northerly directions to Morongo Valley. The highway starts turning from the north and heads east. Continue going east through the towns of Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twenty Nine Palms. Keep heading to the east until one drives to the very small town of Vidal Junction. Highway 95 intersects here. Turn left and head north on highway 95. Go 12.1 miles distance from the Vidal Junction to a good dirt road which is on the left. Turn left here and head 4.4 miles which terminates at the wilderness boundary. Climbers can bivuoac here at the trailhead before going to the peak.
Start from the trailhead and hike up a jeep road, which turns into a wash which one follows to the west. One can see both peaks, Umpah and Mopah from one spot in the wash. Both are spectacular looking, especially Mopah. Leave the wash and head in a southerly direction down and up through more washes traversing the desert landscape. Enroute one gets a good look at the east face of Mopah. At this point, the east ridge of Umpah Point can be seen to the south. Continue traveling across a few more washes and hike up to the base of the East Ridge.
Permits are not required. The traihead is on BLM land and no fees are required to camp here and no summit fees either. There are no seasonal closures, but one needs to be careful if there are rains since there are a few washes that are crossed to get to the trailhead and can get flooded rather quickly. Practice minimum impact camping at the trailhead. There are no restroom facilities here and bring plenty of water, since there is no potable water at the trailhead. A high clearance vehicle is recommended but not absolutely necessary. A parking pass is not required at the trailhead.
When To Climb
The best time to climb the peak is betwen November through April. In the summertime, it is much more difficult because of the heat and very low humidities. If one chooses to climb Umpah Point in the summer or not between November to April, a pre-dawn start is highly recommended, and being up on the summit well before noon. Thus it is definitely alot harder to climb out of season because of potential exposure to heat stress, which can include getting heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which is best to avoid by climbing the peak during the winter months. Be careful while climbing the peak when there are Santa Ana wind conditions.
Camping is allowed at the trailhead and one can camp at the base of the mountain. Check with the Bureau of Land Management if one wants to camp inside the widerness boundary near Umpah Point. There are no huts available and no fees. Camping is pretty rustic, bring plenty of water, toilet paper, food, tent (unless you want to sleep in your car), etc.
Accuweather.com and weather.com are websites that can be accessed to get up-to-date weather conditions. There are no mountain web-cams available. One can call 1-800-427-ROAD, which is the CAL/TRANS road conditions line for the most current road conditions. It is always recommended to have a cell phone along for the drive and the climb, since there are some cell sites that are in the area.