Clipper Mountain Near Essex

  • Updated: March 26, 2016
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

March 26th, 2016
Clipper Mountain (4,593')

This was the first "real" hike I'd been on since Knee Surgery 2015.

Prior to this I had done a snow travel outing with my WTC group and a number of short local hikes but I was anxious to get back out.  The last 6 months of being laid up had taken a toll on my sanity.

I picked this peak almost at random while looking around on Peakbagger.  I'm getting low on DPS peaks I need and I really wanted a two day desert trip with a car camp in between.

Clipper is just south of the infamous Edgar and Mitchell Peaks and Providence Benchmark nearby looked to make a decent pairing with it.

As I posted on Facebook that morning:
"Middle of nowhere, parked in an abandoned dump, about to do a long slog for a seldom visited bump of no particular significance. All is right with the world. -ish"

We had a social engagement Friday night so unusually we decided to head out early Saturday morning instead.  4:30 am we struggled out the door for the 4 hour drive.

Our goal was the general area of Essex just south of the DPS peaks Edgar and Mitchell.  While I'd done all the DPS peaks in the area I'd come across Clipper Mountain and Providence BM.

The exit we intended to take was actually closed due to construction so we had to drive down past the rest stop to the next exit, drive to Essex, and then come back north.

Clipper from the 66
Along the way we found Garys Couch
The lovely remains of the town of Essex.

The place we identified as the trailhead used by others was an old dump.

Due to a misread of a slightly vague trip report we ended up parking further south along the road than we had to.  Parking right off the Essex exit would have been a bit more efficient.

We made do and decided to take a slightly shortcut in the name of exploration rather than play it save and walk around the ridge on the desert floor.

Had we been even more adventurous this is the canyon we entered just north of.  It looked like we could have followed that to the end and then jump into the northern canyon.  Maybe for the 2x

800 ft of gain later we were down in the correct canyon.

From here it's a standard desert stroll up the canyon to the summit.

This is the last bit before you gain the ridge.  All in all it was pretty decent terrain we were just slowed down by my post surgery hobble.

As described online there are two summits just close enough to the same height it's best to stand on both just to be sure.

Looking at the far summit from the near summit
Looking back the way we'd come from the far summit
I've missed this
This was the first proper desert vista I'd seen in quite some time since knee surgery basically cost me the entire desert season.

There was a register and we found a few friends in it.

As usual when it's the three of us it was slightly later than it really should have been and we had a ways to descend.  Fortunately we like headlamps.

Once it was dark we slowed down even further and the last few miles across the desert floor went painfully slow.

The lights on the left are from traffic on the 40 while the spotlight on the right is actually the moon
Total time hiking was 13 hours 45 minutes and we did 12.5 miles and 3300 ft gain so not bad for a first "real" post surgery hike.

We camped nearby and decided to forgo Providence Benchmark on account of not wanting to overdo things the week before I'd be doing WTC Snow Camp.  So the next morning we just enjoyed a camp stove breakfast and headed for home.

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