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Off trail peak bagging
Castle Dome Peak is an off-trail trek in the Kofa Wildlife Refuge north and slightly east of Yuma, Az. It's not a technical peak, but you had better have good route finding skills, endurance for endless bouldering and scree surfing, bushwacking, and there is some exposure on the route.
My partner and I got an early start, slightly after 8:00 after trying to find the TH in the dark, not recommended. The wash is wide and finely graveled, with a little vegetation to dodge. It is very scenic right from the start, with the towering dark and reddish rocked spires enclosing the area. Keep an eye out for Bighorn Sheep here. The wash winds around. Some cairns show up, and there are several ways to leave the wash. Castle Dome is right in front of you here. Your goal is to get to a prominent small spire next to the main rock massif. We decided to almost head the wash, very narrow, constant boulders and lots of catclaw.
From the saddle looking over into Kings Valley and back down our route, it was surprising to see how much we had already gained in elevation.
Here we climbed several ridges, skirting large rock outcroppings. It's rough, somewhat loose, and very steep. We gained the "cactus-filled saddle" just below the spire. Here you will see a faint trail that will lead you to the spire base. Now you have a choice of a couple of Class 3 short pitches, one very easy we descended, one more vertical, and about 200+ feet exposure.
We climbed that one, a bit tight under some boulders. We didn't have a rope, and it was a bit scary for me. Next, you will see cairns skirting along the cliffs leading you up over sharp jagged rocks. A fair amount of exposure here, but the rock is solid, and the footing is good.
The summit is elongated and undulating, and you have tremendous 360-degree views. The peak register is in an ammo can on a prominent rock outcropping to your right when you gain the peak. This is a training climb for the Golden Knights team, so quite a few military sign-ins up there. Looks like light use overall.
The downclimb was worse than the up, lots of scree, we both sat down three times. We cliffed out twice; you either have to do a traverse at the base of the main peak across or go down some ridges, almost going away from where you want to go to the wash. In the middle are sheer unclimbable cliffs unless you have a 150+ foot rope and climbing gear.
We descended a lovely dry waterfalled chute, it dropped off, and we climbed out to continue down a drainage to the wash. We couldn't have timed it better for weather, cool, a little wind, and although hazy on top, it started to clear as we descended. The next day blew like heck, so I headed home. We did some other exploring in the area. Gorgeous once you get off the beaten path.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.