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Ascent of Thumb Peak on 2013-11-02

Climber: Daryn Dodge

Others in Party:Keith Christensen
Paul Garry
Kathy Rich
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, November 2, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:Thumb Peak
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:1375 ft / 419 m

Ascent Trip Report

Thumb Peak is a remnant of a volcano that actually has a resemblance to a thumb sticking up. It is similar to other more well-known peaks in the southern California desert such as Mopah Peak and Little Picacho Peak. This peak, however, is not near any paved roads and can be hidden from view by a nearby range. Andy Zdon in his desert guidebook described this peak as a probable Class 5 rock climb while some other prolific desert climbers including John Vitz and Mark Adrian had found an easier way up the peak. Operating off limited beta, we gave it a try.

Starting from Milpitas Wash Road west of Thumb Peak, 6 of us started walking on an old 4WD road towards the peak. We left the road after about one kilometer and walked through some shallow washes occasionally following burro trails. Approaching the peak from the north side, we climbed up to a saddle between the main peak and it's satellite peak just to the east. Here all we could see was vertical walls with no easy ascent.

Staying high on the scree below the peak wall, we traversed south a few hundred feet over to a fin of rock that came out east from the main peak. This was the key. Climbing over this fin we could now see the big SE gully of Thumb Peak that leads up near the summit. Now climbing NW, we stayed on the right side of the gigantic gully and climbed up to it's end. At this point a high class 2 chimney leads up about 25 feet to a wide sloping ledge below the main summit mass. Some climbers might call this chimney easy class 3.

A thin ridge leads south down from the main summit and has a prominent notch where it connects to the main peak. Climbing up and around this notch all went at least class 4. However, I could just climb up high enough to see that there was easier climbing on the west side of the ridge. That's when Greg climbed the next less prominent notch to the south and found only class 2 climbing. This was the next key to the climb...to get on the other side of the ridge. From here, we traversed north over exposed class 2 ledges on the west side up to the peak's summit. Some climbers may consider about 30 feet of this exposed traverse to be more like class 3. Few people visit this peak. Many years can go by without anyone signing into the register. A great view and a great feeling solving the puzzle of how to get to the summit!

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:899 ft / 273 m
    Extra Gain:131 ft / 39 m
    Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Route:Southeast Gully route
    Trailhead:Milpitas Wash Road  738 ft / 224 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2-3
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 



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