Sheep Hole Mountain DPS

  • Updated: April 24, 2016
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

April 24th, 2016

This was a long weekend.

The AMP13 rappel day was Saturday and the setup requires waking up painfully early to meet up with Jack, get to Chatsworth, and set up 6 separate rappel stations complete with separate belay anchors.  By the time the students show up around 8 I'd already been up 5 hours.  Actually teaching the course was a ball like always and I managed to stay coherent through the post class meal.

Needless to say by the time I got home I pretty much showered and passed out immediately.  Only to wake up at 3 am, quickly throw together a daypack, and then drive out to meet John Slagle and Mark Butski at a local carpool point so we could drive 3 hours to Sheep Hole Mountain north of 29 Palms.

Fortunately John was up for doing the driving.

Sheep Hole is one of the easier of 99 -ish peaks on the Sierra Club Desert Peaks Section list and is frequently climbed due to the relatively short drive and easy approach.  I'd looked at it several times but the peak didn't pair well with any other DPS peaks to make a weekend out of and so it kept getting put off.

This seemed like as good a time as any to grab is since I was down to the last 10 or so peaks before my planned list finish in December.  It had a reputation for being a rough boulder scramble near the top but my knee was doing well enough I was ready to test it a little more.

We were in John's Prius so we didn't want to risk the sandy dirt road and just parked on the side of the road.

We decided to do a loop going up the DPS A route and down the B.  This works fairly well though it would have been far easier to just go up and down A using the route we found.

The A route (marked in red on the map at the top of the post) follows a canyon most of the way and then climbs a ridge.

The canyon was pretty standard desert fare.

We deviated from the route described on the DPS guide and elsewhere a little north of 1041T.  It just looked better to climb the southern ridge and traverse around.

This worked well and likely saves us scrambling over some boulders in the wash.

We even ran across a plane wreck up there.

Approaching the summit ridge it was hard to tell which bump was the actual summit was until we were closer.  Mark remembered taking a somewhat nasty route up to the summit block last time so we spent a few minutes looking at options before settling on this.

Quick, straightforward, and solid.

There were a few easy moves to make it onto the summit where we found a register that seemed to contain just about every single hiker I know.

Despite the fact we had a nice route we could have taken down I was curious to see the B route.  Mark claimed it was a little easier than A recalling it was basically a trail.  My knee was getting a little tired by now and an easier walk off sounded appealing.

So off we went along the north western ridge.

From here things did get significantly harder and the reputation the peak had for big boulders requiring a lot of route finding and scrambling made a bit more sense.

For future reference retracing the red route back to where it touches the blue would have been significantly nicer.

Contrail throwing a shadow on the desert floor

Once we got off the summit ridge there was a use trail off an on.

Once it dropped us down in the wash we were still doing a fair amount of boulder scrambling and by the time we reached the bottom both of my legs were quaking.  Still not too bad considering this was one of the first few outings after my knee surgery.

There is an old road that leads into the canyon we descended and some decent camping spots can be found there out of sight of the road.

There was also this structure.

It was a flat cement foundation that drained into a small cistern.

It seems like it's a way to collect water for some purpose but the cap would suggest it wasn't there for animal use.  I actually saw an identical structure on the north side of Clipper Mountain a few weeks before so it's not just a one off.

The last bit along the sandy road had a few old vehicle remains.

A 3 hour drive later + a short hop home and I was finally able to pass out.

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