With warmer weather upon us, I decided I wanted to head for higher elevations. Inexperienced in the ways of peak-bagging, I enlisted the help of one who seemed to be the most logical choice on HAZ, some guy nicknamed "summit kokopelli".
Not wanting to be thwarted by the steam produced by the chilly morning air, we opted for a late start and made the 20 mile dirt road drive to the trailhead. Recent rains left parts of the road muddy and previous users had left plenty of skid marks. If only there was another railroad crossing a little closer...
Perhaps a route on foot from the DQ is the best option?
Once in the shadow of this extraordinary feature on the desert floor, I was surprised to learn of it's ruggedness. This is definitely a solid scramble, and there are some nice sheer cliffs where you could use some real climbing moves if you wanted to. There are numerous alcoves, shallow caves, arches, and windows. Some are worth exploring, but keep an eye out for bees. We encountered two active nests and one defunct honeycomb site. Luckily at this time of year and time of day, the bees were not particularly active.
I spooked a beautiful great horned owl out of a nice nesting spot, and there were many points of avian turd on this pile of poo.
We began on the northwest and traversed the ridge to the southeast before dropping down to the desert floor and reascending a different route and returning along the ridge back toward the truck. At the end we dropped off the north side and did a quick flush around the base to view it from all sides.
On the way out, I was devastated to learn that DQ was not serving ice cream. I was really in the mood for chocolate soft-serve but had to settle for a fudge bar.
* Special thanks to Sirena for recommending this ridgeline and encouraging me to put my fears aside to achieve this worthy goal! Kudos also to JJ and LP for blazing the trail and providing valuable photos and information during my extensive pre-hike research.