Avawatz Range Highpoint Trip Report

6,155 ft

Date: April 5, 2003

The Avawatz Range highpoint is on the California Fifty Finest list of prominences and was a long-sought prize of both Edward Earl and myself ever since we failed to climb it a while back.

This time around we would not make any of the same mistakes. We drove up in my Toyota Tacoma the previous evening, a Friday, starting from my Del Mar home at 3 p.m. and camped at a broad flat patch next to route 127 some 20 miles north of Baker.

At first light, just before 5 a.m. we awoke and Edward drove the Tacoma in four wheel drive up the rocky road leading to the canyon entrance - a total of four miles and nearly 1,500 vertical feet of effort so obviated (and eight miles shaved off the round-trip).

We carried far more water than previously - five quarts for myself and nearly as much for Edward. Turns out that I actually had six quarts with me, I had simply miscounted! So we entered the canyon three hours earlier, with more water, and with fresh legs compared to the previous fiasco.

The summit was gained in 4 hours 20 minutes elapsed time - a net gain of 4,200 feet. The ups-and-downs along the cross-country portion of the climb made for an estimated total elevation gain of 5,000 feet.

The summit register had several familiar names - Richard Carey, Gail Hanna, the Roaches, John Vitz, and others that we knew personally. With some 5,500 vertical feet separating us from the paved road, views were phenomenal in all directions.

We actually had overplanned on the water since the morning was chilly and we climbed quickly enough to evenly match the gathering day heat with altitude. A cold spell was over the region and I ended up using "only" about a gallon of water (one of which was milk used to enjoy numerous candy bar treats along the way).

After nearly an hour on top we descended in perhaps three and one-half hours to my patiently waiting jade green pickup - which looked like a teeny tiny speck as viewed from the summit ridge on the way down.

The next day we would climb Kingston Peak - another desert summit on the California Fifty Finest list. Seeing its pyramidal shape two dozen miles east across the vast alluvial plains, I pointed to it and said "You are next" - as had done Chong Li in Bloodsport when trying to intimidate his next opponent.