Paint Mountain BM, Wiley BM, and Thumb Peak In Palo Verde Mountains Wilderness

  • Updated: December 10, 2016
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

December 10th, 2016
Paint Mountain Benchmark (1,328')
Thumb Peak (1,375')
[PicsPaint] [MapPaint] 
[PicsThumb] [MapThumb]

The original plan for this weekend was to lead a trip to climb Little Picacho with a group of AMP staff and students.  A rash of work and illness related cancellations caused me to reschedule that trip and Kristen and I ended up doing some peaks south of Blythe.

That meant the drive was downright reasonable and we were laid out along the side of Wiley's Well Road a bit after midnight.

We decided to take the Subaru Forester this weekend so had to be a little more cautious of the roads than the Jeep usually requires. Wiley's Well Road could have been done in a passenger care but some of the offshoots had deep gravel where we had to floor it and slide around a bit.

Paint Mountain Benchmark / Wiley BM

Paint Mountain BM on the right and Wiley BM on the left
Thumb Peak was the main goal for the day but it was short enough we decided to start with nearby Paint Mountain Benchmark.

We drove down a decent dirt road and found a place to pull over when we started to worry about getting stuck.

We climbed the south western ridge of Wiley / Paint which was an ease slope.

Wiley BM in the background

We found registers on both bumps despite the fact they were only .2 miles apart.  There were only a few sign in since it had been dropped 5 ish years ago.

We went down the eastern slopes since we could see the Opal Hill Mine in the distance.  It looked like it might be occupied and sure enough when we got closer we could make out campers and one elderly gentleman using a cane wandering around apparently examining the ground.  We decided to give him his space and headed for the car.

Thumb Peak

Thumb was a brief drive to the south and the real reason we were out here.

Thumb Peak from the north that morning

Thumb Peak from Palo Verde Peak

Thumb Peak from the west

It stands out just a bit.  I had two trip reports one from Bob Burd describing a 3rd / 4th class route and another from Daryn Dodge describing a tricky 2nd class route while citing the description in Zdon which claims that it is 5th class.

We parked along the side of Wiley's Well Rd.  There was a nice protected campsite on the side of the wash we stayed in that night.

The first part is a jeep road and if we had a vehicle capable of crossing the wash we could have cut off a bit of distance.

The track I had from Daryn went north of the bumps along the way while we shortcuted.  Not recommended but it did get us a good look at the western slope of Thumb.

We could make out the ramp Burd described and it looked like the best option on this side.

The ramp looked better and better the closer we got.  Except for this one spot.

There are plenty of handholds but the entire rockface was shattered enough to be a little concerning and the drop below is not insignificant.  It basically boils down to one less than wonderful foot placement that *probably* wasn't going to give way and you're over.

Kristen looking back at the crux

From there it's a fun light 3rd class scramble

The register dated back to 1998 and didn't have many people in it beyond the groups we'd heard about.

The bag the register was in had been eaten by bugs

We decided to descend via the route Daryn described.

There is a little scrambling to get off the summit but everything is solid.

We dropped off the ridge here right before things got really interesting.

From there we could see a promising looking descent which turned out to be trivial.

Daryn went through the notch in the picture above.  From what I could see staying low like we did was probably simpler.

We were treated to a spectacular desert sunset as we hiked back to the car.

View of our camp from the following morning
With a bit of care we managed to get the Subaru down near the wash where we found a protected camp with a rather nice firepit we made use of.

Dinner consisted of black bean and butternut squash enchiladas and red wine.  There was a minor crisis when we unpacked the cookware and realized we didn't have a can opener to open the main ingredient.  After briefly debating trying to smash it open on some rocks I remembered we'd picked up a rusty knife while hiking earlier and managed to pry my way into the can without major injury.  Dinner was saved and we made plans to head further south and do Palo Verde Peak in the morning.

You Might Also Like