Ascent of Malapai Hill on 2014-03-09

Climber: Dan Hoetger

Others in Party:Kirstin McLatchie
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, March 9, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Malapai Hill
    Elevation:4280 ft / 1304 m

Ascent Trip Report

Sought refuge from the LA heat in Joshua Tree and decided to investigate the wildflower situation near the west entrance and check off the most isolated of the LPS peaks on my list. It's about six miles down Geology Tour Road, an unmaintained road consisting mostly of washboard with a few larger ruts and sandy patches. About a mile before Malapai Hill there's a sign recommending 4x4 but -- at least as far as Malapai Hill -- I had no concerns with my FWD hatchback. Due east of Malapai is a pulloff for at least three vehicles. There was one other vehicle parked there but I didn't see anyone else in the couple hours we were walking about.

Scrambled a bit on the outcropping of rocks just east of Malapai Hill until a rattlesnake made himself known where I was intending to put my foot. It's a nice outcrop but given the lack of people and apparent presence of rattlers, it might be better skipped.

As for the ascent itself, the route is entirely cross-country with no evidence of an established route. We opted to ascend the northeastern ridge-like slope. Last weekend's rain seemed to help with the stability of talus in the tackier clay-soil but plenty of rocks remained loose. Found the register on the southern of the two peaks (with three or four pens -- someone must have read Yvonne's TR from March 2012). The small steno notepad was full but someone appended a folded 8.5x11 piece of paper which itself is now about half full so it could use some more paper.

For the descent, we opted to go down along the northern-most canyon (subtle as it was) on the west face. The talus was much more stable on that route than the ascent route. All in all, a very short isolated cross-country trek to the top of a probable ancient volcano resulting in an expansive view of the surrounding area. Recommended!
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:440 ft / 134 m
    Trailhead:3840 ft / 1170 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear

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