Teutonia & Cima Dome in Mojave

  • Updated: November 04, 2012
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

What:   Teutonia Peak (5,755'),
  Cima Dome (5,745' -ish?)
When: November 4th, 2012
Where: Mojave National Preserve, CA
Who:  Matthew Hengst, Anne Kircher, Jeff Atijera

Pictures:  Flickr
GPS Track:  Track

After spending all day Saturday exploring nearby Castle Peaks we needed something shorter for Sunday since we had to get Anne back to Orange County in time to catch a flight back to the Bay Area.  So I scaled back some larger ideas I had and went scrounging around for something suitably short, obscure, and at least somewhat interesting to round out the weekend.

Teutonia pretty much defines obscure, has an interesting name, and supposedly had some fun 3rd+ class scrambling.  That'll work!

From Cima Rd.  Cima in the middle, Teutonia is the speck
on left side near the middle of the picture while
the bump to the right is actually Kessler.
Never heard of Teutonia?  Out in Mojave along the I15 a bit before Prim there is a large mound called Cima Dome.  Don't start picturing a Yosemite style dome or anything silly like that.  It's huge but so gradual it can be hard to make out unless your looking at it from a distance though if you're looking at topos of the area you'll see it's influence quite clearly.  

And on the eastern side of this somewhat less than imposing yet quite large mound is an odd little pile of rocks sticking out like a boil that comes up almost as high as the very top of Cima itself.  This is Teutonia.  

And if we were going to climb the boil it only made sense to run up Cima while we were there.

We had a rather pleasant night camped at the Castle Peaks trailhead the night before and decided to retrace out route out to the I15 in the hopes of finding a gas station with bathrooms and coffee.

Rather nice signage for the middle of nowhere.
Conveniently there was a Shell station at the Cima Rd exit we needed to take to reach Teutonia.  And what a station it is...

The button on the left makes water shoot out the miners crotch pan which wiggles back
and forth while he tries to pitch you on buying jerky inside.
The famous* fountain urinal in the men's bathroom.  Sadly my phone couldn't quite capture
the sign to the right there to assure you that you are in face supposed to pee in said edifice.
After having had just about as much fun as we could manage at the gas station we continued south on Cima Rd and soon came to the rather well signed Teutonia Peak Trailhead.  It's apparently a rather popular if short hike for tourists (Mojave tourists, really?) due to the density of Joshua Trees in the area.

Remains of a building at Teutonia Mine
The trail itself was unremarkable except for a small detour to the Teutonia Mine.

I'm always excited by mine ruins so when I noticed the waypoint nearby I took off while Anne and Jeff trailed behind with bemused expressions.

Sadly if somewhat predictably for something this close to a trail everything been knocked down and sealed up.

This passed the Weird Al Test

While many of the more interesting mines I've poked around in have been blasted out of hard rock with adits you can just walk inside this one consisted of a few pits and shafts dug out of some disturbingly unstable dirt. Varying amounts of effort and funding had been expended to close these off from a rather sturdy looking if slightly rusted cement and metal grating...

Please insert unwanted children and pets
...to this gaping hole with a small barbed wire fence and a faded sign asking you to kindly not throw yourself down the hole. I have to imagine body recovery is rather annoying considering how badly the sides were crumbling.

After that brief and somewhat disappointing diversion we continued up the trail to the ridge south of Teutonia Peak.

The trail stops at a small overlook letting you gaze over at Cima (if you can tell it's there) and we followed the  numerous footprints headed south.  

There are all sorts of scrambling opportunities along the way and I ran up a few of the smaller rocks before we reached one of the two main summits towards the southern end of the ridge.

Unlike Castle Peaks where every other handhold crumbled or pulled out the rock here was solid and felt like climbing at Joshua Tree.  In other words, fun!

We first tried coming up the north side of the northern summit and found a nice scramble with a bit of back and forth route finding required.

Technically for the last bit you do have to step over a bit of a drop and technically the rock your stepping onto is detached and wiggles slightly.  Jeff and Anne informed me that technically they'd wait right there even when I pointed out an alternative 4 foot leap over a 30 foot drop off to the left.

Good handholds at least.

So I ran up the rest of the way while they laid out on the rocks below and waited.

Somewhat surprisingly I found a register and not just any register but one placed by the famous duo of Barbara Lilley & Gordon MacLeod.

Winner of the most amusing register entry.

This this still didn't motivate the others to risk the wiggly step (which Anne even refused to watch me return over) so we dropped back down and tried coming up from the saddle between the northern and southern summit.

We found another route here that Jeff liked a little better that involved climbing up a slab with good hands and feet.

Yellow dot Jeff down climbing the south side of the
northern summit
Jeff went up the northern summit while Anne and I watched from the nearby (and much easier / less fun) southern summit.

The down climb on the slab bit could be described as a bit spicy and I've seen pictures of people rappelling it.  Jeff did it the hard way.

The northern summit (the one with the register) does seem to be a little bit higher though when your on it you'll swear that it's actually the other one.  Try both!

Jeff soon joined us on the southern summit where we had lunch and gazed on the majesty that is Cima.
The view of Cima Dome.  When I pointed it out to Anne it took a few tried until she realized
what I was actually pointing at.
We played around on some rocks a bit further south but they're all noticeably lower and mostly less interesting scrambles.  Returning to the saddle between the northern and southern summits I was hopeful we could drop down to Cima directly from there and happily went scrambling down while Jeff and Anne waited above.

After rather fun and at times a slightly challenging down climb I ended up cliffing out rather decidedly still well off the ground.  Teutonia is rather more vertical on the west side.

Ah the desert...

So instead we backtracked to the overlook point where we strolled down the easier slopes and headed in the general direction of the top of Cima.

And there wasn't a whole lot to it.  The biggest challenge (other than not tripping over the occasional cactus) was trying to figure out what the highest point was.  We eventually made a call and declared victory.

Not surprisingly you can't see much of anything from the top.

And with that we backtracked and headed for home stopping in Baker to give the local slightly less than impressive Mexican food a second chance.

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