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South Saddle Mountain - Tonopah
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mini location map2017-01-07
21 by photographer avatarchumley
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South Saddle Mountain - TonopahSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 07 2017
Hiking3.26 Miles 1,624 AEG
Hiking3.26 Miles   2 Hrs   44 Mns   1.30 mph
1,624 ft AEG      13 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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With a trip planned for Saddle Mountain, I decided to look for some additional exploring nearby. I figured the other side of the saddle might be fun! Quick recon at home made it seem like a mountain guarded on all sides by 100-200 foot cliffs. I didn't think I could get to the saddle from the main peak, and I was fairly certain it would be impossible to get up the south peak from the saddle. On site observations seemed to confirm my suspicions so I put the whole thought on the back burner.

Then we decided to go for a drive around the mountain. Upon reaching the end of the road less than a mile northwest of the saddle, I became a little bit more intrigued and figured it was worth an attempt. Abandoned rusty things were more appealing to skatchkins so we went our separate ways.

I started up the wash toward the saddle for which the mountain is named. A quarter mile and 300 hundred feet below it, I turned south to get around the dominating cliff face above me. I traversed a bit before climbing up a very steep drainage on some nice bedrock that occasionally sees some water flow. There was a narrow chute full of growth above me but I opted to swing farther out to the next ridge at about the 2100 foot contour. The views here were great, but they revealed that the next drainage was either impossible to get to or would require a long and steep descent first. And it wasn't fully in view so I couldn't see if that drainage would lead to the top either.

So I headed up the overgrown chute. It looked like it too would cliff out at the top, but I was hoping to find a way. After fighting desert prickly things and sometimes climbing around some obstacles I reached a very nice ramp that ascended to the left at about 2400 feet. There was some unpleasant exposure above the chute and loose footing but with some attentive steps, it was really quite easy.

This ramp turned to the right again, climbing more gently and in more tolerable surroundings than the chute. An 8-foot overhung crumbly aggregate dryfall was easily bypassed followed by a very nice drainage with a few pots full of water and then a narrow 15 foot dryfall of more solid rock. It too could be bypassed, but I managed to climb straight up. From here, I could see peak 2660 to the left ... the one that drops immediately down to the saddle, and a false peak to the right in the direction of the South Saddle high point. This area was pristine with desert flora. Not difficult to maze through, but cholla, ocotillo, palo verde, agave and a bunch of other cactus would make this a stunning area during flower season.

I headed toward the first false summit, then the second and the third along the ridge before finally spotting the ultimate goal. I had to drop down off the ridge on the east side to make the final climb to the summit. There I found a cairn and register. I added my name, just the 6th one since the register was placed in 1995! The views up here are outstanding. Though Saddle Mountain is a couple hundred feet higher and blocks the north view, the sight of it from here is incredible!

On the return trip I stayed to the left at the bottom of the drainage below the chute instead of returning the same way I had ascended. This had me travel in a beautiful valley that makes this "mountain" seem to be much more of a "range". It was amazing. Well-defined sheep trails paralleled the drainage, and I would have enjoyed exploring more to the west, but instead I beelined back toward the truck, crossing a small hill along the way.

Obviously not many do this one, but I highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys scrambling on desert mountains.
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Saddle Mountain
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