Van Winkle Mountain
Mojave National Preserve, California
October 16, 2016

We were expecting Van Winkle Mountain to be a sleepy, little peak, but we were pleasantly surprised. Its lower slopes displayed beautifully sculpted white sandstone, as if a modern artist lent a hand in their making. And the summit held worthwhile desert views for a modest effort.

Van Winkle appears in Zdon’s Desert Summit book, and apparently no where else. I could find no mention of it on the Internet. We chose it only because it was close to Amboy Crater which we had hiked that morning. Van Winkle is accessed from a side road off of Kelbaker Road. Perhaps the only wrinkle in doing Van Winkle, is the sandy access road, but we had no trouble driving our 2 WD rental 1.3 km to the parking area.

After parking, Dinah and I sauntered down a brief road to a T-intersection, a wash that incorporates another road. A short walk brought us to the northeast ridge, the ascent ridge bearing the carved rocks. It’s not entirely ridge-like, however. After climbing, it levels off into a pleasant plateau before rising again to meet a rocky ridge. The high point isn’t at the south end as indicated on the map, but at a high point north, three metres higher.

On our descent, we ventured off the plateau to the top of a wash. We thought it would work as a descent route, but we were discouraged by the dense catclaw trees. Don’t bother trying. So we retraced our steps down the ridge back to our car. In all, we thought it was a fine desert peak, full of interest. We didn’t feel ripped off on Van Winkle Mountain.

KML and GPX Tracks


View of Van Winkle Mountain (right) from the turn-off


From the parking lot, we hiked up the ridge on the far right


Starting up the ridge


Behind us on the far left, is Granite Peak


Almost at the top of the slope where we'll find a plateau


The plateau extends to the base of the summit ridge


From here, Van Winkle displays a striking profile (click for a larger image)


Unusual rock grace the lower slopes


On the way to the summit we passed the sculpted sandstone


Taking a close look at the rocks


Looking back


Another sculpted outcrop


This particular rock stood out


It reminded me of Kermit the Frog


Continuing to the false summit


Scrambling to reach the ridge top


According to the X on the topo map, the south end is the highest point but it isn't


All that remains of a cement nameplate on the south end is "INKLE"


Posing on the south end


The high point north turned out to be 3 m higher


Instead of following the ridge back, we contoured below the crest which avoided the need to scramble


We head back to Kermit rock (lower left)


The plateau fills much of this photo (click for a larger image)


We considered taking the gully (centre) on our descent but it was filled with catclaw trees


Following the ridge back to the parking lot (centre)


Van Winkle Spring 1:24,000 Topo (2.4 mi, 4596 ft, 1250 ft)

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