When Dinah and I plodded up Kelso Dunes in the Mojave Desert a year and a half ago with our friend Shin, he was curious about the peak to the south: Granite Mountain. I proposed that we climb it, and after some research, we were set to go.
In Desert Summits Zdon suggests ascending the mountain via the northeast wash, but after studying Harlan Stockman's webpage, the northeast ridge appeared to be a better option. It's less bushy than the wash although compounded by more boulders. But rather than deterring us, navigating along a boulder-strewn ridge stirred our interest.
From the trailhead, we hiked up a rough road and reached the ridge about an hour later. Forget following the ridgeline; house-size boulders didn't permit it. Instead, we kept low, below the crest on the left side of the ridge. Shin did the routefinding which left me to concentrate on taking photos and videos, as well as study the fascinating boulders. After pushing through a particularly dense section of boulders, the rocks began to disappear and a bushy slope rose up ahead. Higher still, the brush gave way to pinyon and juniper trees as well as the odd cluster of boulders, all of which conspired to hamper routefinding and hide much of the far-ranging views. But we reached the summit without incident where a cold wind greeted us.
We spent nearly an hour on the summit, mostly in the lee of trees where we had lunch, before heading back the same way. And we got to see those amazing boulders again.
Driving to the trailhead: Granite Mountain is obvious
Starting up the road, although here it looks more like a sandy wash
We're parked at the left end of the little hill behind us
We passed some boulders, but we'll see hundreds more on the mountain
The road leads to our ascent ridge ahead
Climbing above the desert flats
The false summit appears
No easy way to get there
Nothing but boulders, bushes, and cactus. But mostly boulders!
Some boulders, like this one, appeared to be precariously perched
We are forced to climb down and left of the rock pile ahead (click for a larger image)
Shin passes a huge pancake pricklypear cactus
These rocks remind me of crab claws
Mohave Claret Cup
Travel eases after we get through the worst of the boulders
Behind: Mitchell, Edgar and Foundation Peaks in the Providence Range (mouse over for a close-up)
The grade steepens on the way to the false summit
The ridge higher up was mostly treed, but here we hit a stretch of boulders.
North of Silver Peak (foreground) we can make out Cowhole Mountain rising above sand dunes
(mouse over to zoom in)
Traversing the slope under the summit
Looking at the alternate ascent route that follows a wash
Dinah smiles as she comes down from the summit
Bighorn Basin 1:24,000 Topo (7.8 mi, 6788 ft, 2805 ft)
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