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Ascent of Avawatz Peak on 2012-11-11

Climber: Daryn Dodge

Others in Party:Kathy Rich
Greg Gerlach
Date:Sunday, November 11, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Avawatz Peak
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:6155 ft / 1876 m

Ascent Trip Report

From Baker, we followed the Desert Peak Guidebook instructions to 0.1 mile past the 19 mile marker on Hwy 127. There is an unsigned dirt road turn here on the left (west). There is a shallow ditch to cross, but was not quite deep enough to prevent passenger cars from driving in.

We all piled into my Jeep Cherokee and headed towards Avawatz. Almost immediately it became clear to me that a severe flood had damaged the dirt road since I was here 3 years ago. I was in 4WD within the first mile. The dirt road in places looked more like the bed of a wash, and I got out to check once to make sure I was still on the road. The road got better as I neared the Old Morman Springs road fork at 4.6 miles in. Here we stayed left heading up the canyon. At 5.7 miles in we came to a narrow rocky section where Greg and Karl got out of the car to move some big rocks out of the way. It took me three tries to get over a little rock ledge. We came to a road fork at 6.5 miles in and stayed right. The road deteriorated again, probably from the same flash flood that had wrecked the road further down.

At 7.5 miles the road begins to climb steeply out of the canyon and towards a ridge. This stretch of road is cut into a cliff. Previously, there was short narrow section of road that was washing away. Now there are two sections like this. We had to get out and shovel some dirt into the washed out sections. I hugged the wall as I drove my Jeep over these parts, hoping I would not slide over the cliff. I made it through and onto the ridge just above. Everyone got back into the Jeep and we continued on up and around an old solar powered communication station. The road began to drop a little after the station. This part of the road had many loose rocks laying around, which were rather sharp. Greg, Karl and Kathy got out several times to clear the road of these hazards. Finally at 8.6 miles in I parked at the sharp right turn in the road where there was room to turn around. This spot also had an old campfire ring and would make a good spot to camp for a few vehicles.

The dirt road drive in took 1 hr 45 min and we were ready to do some hiking. We started by climbing up a few hundred feet over the ridge to the SW, then contoured over to a saddle below some white cliffs. From the saddle, we ascended the cliffs going up and right keeping the climbing to loose class 2. At the top of the cliff we walked NW along the main crest and picked up a use trail. Open views all around and blissfully free of brush! This part of the climb was quite enjoyable and we reached the summit in about 2 hrs.

There was a cold wind blowing but the sky was clear.

On the drive back down, I nearly slid off the nasty narrow section of road that is just below the solar station. I gunned the engine when the slide started and made it out without getting the Jeep stuck (or fall over the cliff!).

I would recommend parking at the road fork 6.5 miles in from Hwy 127, where there is relatively flat area and room for several cars to park. This makes the Avawatz hike about 10 miles round trip, but it is not worth getting a car stuck, or sliding off the cliff a mile up the road.



Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1955 ft / 594 m
    Extra Gain:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Route:SE ridge
    Trailhead:Old mining road to the SE  4600 ft / 1402 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 5 Minutes



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