Saturday, February 25, 2017

Aquila Peak and the Five Finger Traverse

California has been pounded by storm after storm, so I have not been up to much lately. A lot of cragging, which has been fun, but I miss the mountains. 

The weather was supposed to be beautiful, and I was partnerless. I decided to go to the Indian Wells canyon and try climbing Aquila peak, and to traverse the Five Fingers, a series of chossy towers in the desert made of decomposing granite. 

Not an impressive summit, but it looked like an interesting scramble. I woke up at 4am, and drove out through the Kern Canyon and onto Highway 395.

Aquila Peak and the Five Fingers

Interesting place
After 3.5 hours of driving I pulled into the parking lot and started trudging up the dirt hill towards the "first finger" the first of a series of towers. My plan was to traverse the ridge line and climb any of the towers that looked like easy solo scrambles.

Lonely car
I had some route finding issues to gain access to the first tower. I started up some chossy low 5th class terrain, climbed some slabs, and then there were some steep looking cracks. So I down climbed and found a 3rd class way up on the other side. I ripped off a loose block while climbing, took a small tumble and cut my elbow and hand. The day was not off to a great start.

Eventually I made my way up, then traversed over to the second tower.

Top of the 1st tower

The second summit
I then traversed along the ridge. It was pretty fun. I by-passed the next 2 towers, both looked like either low 5th class climbing or steep 4th class climbing. I realized that while soloing I am pretty nervous climber, I think I need to get more practice solo scrambling so I can get more comfortable soloing 4th class terrain. I don't think my little fall earlier helped with my confidence.  The upclimbing is not so scary - its the down climbing!

Looking back along the ridge traverse

Looking forward on the traverse
I tagged the next tower, down climbed and then found myself at the base of the last, and tallest tower - Aquila Peak. Rather than down climbing all the way to the north face where there is an easy 3rd class chute, I climbed the west face directly, which was a nice moderate 4th class climb. Then the summit! yay! Fun little scramble.

I then headed down and back to the car. I was home by 4pm. A fun little scramble, I learned that I am a bit of a wuss on 4th class and low 5th class terrain when I am solo. Something to work on, and build come confidence. 

There are some other interesting looking hiking peaks in the area, I'll have to come back some time and check them out. 

Maybe head up Owen Peak next time

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