Old Granite
(two half-day climbs)

7 Nov 2009 - by Steve Eckert

NOTE: The DPS's Granite Mtn #1 is a few miles north of #2, so I'll call it Granite Mtn North.

It's a 7.5 hr drive from the SF Bay Area to the trailhead for either of these peaks, so it's possible to do one of these short climbs and drive on the same day. If you're already in the area, it's possible to do Granite and Old Dad on the same day (with a moderate drive between them).

Granite Mountain North (DPS Granite #1)

See the trailhead page for driving directions, maps, and waypoints! From the Granite trailhead, drop into the wash at either of two staked Wilderness Boundary signs. (The DPS guide says "hike downhill" but it's only a 20' drop.) Walk southwest up the wash on a closed 4WD road. There are lots of branches in this braided wash. On the way out, the trailhead will be out of sight up a slight hill to the right as the wash widens out

I kept to the right of an old steel tank and some wooden ruins (waypoint GRAN01) where the walking seemed easiest. Above the ruins, the 4WD road is clear and obvious. At the Cottonwood Wash junction (waypoint GRAN02), I took the right branch of a fork. 100 yards later there is a gate with No Trespassing sign (ecological study area, which apparently everyone ignores).

A large boulder the DPS Guide may refer to:

I stayed right at another junction (waypoint GRN03), and soon came to a huge boulder about 1 mile from car (waypoint GRAN04). I measure this as 1.7 miles from the car (along my path), not 1.3 as the DPS Guide indicates. Maybe it's not the same boulder? Anyway, I continued on the 4WD track well past that large boulder and didn't see another memorable one. The road went right and up onto a small ridge, where it got very rocky very quickly.

I left road at a large, well-shaped pinon tree that stands alone (waypoint GRANXC) and walked nearly level into mouth of the obvious canyon to the southwest. Cottonwood Spring didn't seem to exist at this time of year! No water, no big green area, nothing to indicate a spring ever existed. maybe the water is piped elsewhere?

Near the mouth of the canyon (waypoint GRAN05, 4700') I left the drainage at a patch of slickrock, climbing up on the north (right) side where there were fewer cat's claw acacia. Around 5000' I went through field of large boulders which provided some variety but might slow some groups down. After I went around Point 1602, at 5300' there was a draw that's not clear on the map (waypoint GRAN06). The walking was great here, but you wouldn't want to be any further right - there are more boulders over there!

The ridge slowly formed into more of a classic shape as I climbed. A steep section ends at about 6200' (waypoint GRAN07) but even that isn't very hard because there's little brush and no loose rubble.

I got to the summit in under 3 hours, and spent close to an hour enjoying very nice temperatures and reasonable views. Cell phones work here but not at the trailhead (as usual).

Liking variety but not liking brushy drainages, I went down on the other side of the canyon. I dropped off the south ridge right away, ending up in a bowl at 6500' (waypoint GRAN08) that seems to be the top of the DPS Guide gully. This area is nice and sandy - a good descent route, but it might be tedious to climb. It was easy to drift right on the way down, but that didn't work well and I ended up exiting on the left, toward the top of the drainage marked on the map.

I picked up vague use trail at 6200' on right side of a smaller gully (waypoint GRAN09). The gully was brushy already, and getting worse as I dropped. I mostly stayed near or on the ridge right of the drainage to avoid brush. Between 5400' and 5300' there were trees to avoid (waypoint GRAN10), but it wasn't hard. There's a 30' stack of unusual boulders at 5100' (waypoint GRAN11) that form a natural "duck" for the bottom of this route. Just below this "duck" I picked up a burro trail walking across open sand to the right (east) of the main drainage.

I stayed up on right side, on burro tracks, because the canyon was brushy and bouldery. It's not clear to me why anyone would want to climb IN the gully. I re-joined canyon at the patch of slick rock where I left the canyon on the way up (waypoint GRAN05), and got back to the car by noon (5 hours after I started).


Old Dad

See the trailhead page for driving directions, maps, and waypoints! Since I had a passenger car, I walked from the 2WD trailhead (hot by mid-day, cold overnight). It takes less than an hour and a half to walk past the 4WD trailhead and up the canyon to the base of the peak (waypoint ODADC3).

The wash feeding the easiest ascent gully is choked with boulders, you really don't want to climb IN the wash. Instead, climb out of the right side of the wash as soon as it forms steep sides (waypoint ODADC2), and stay on the right side until 3100' (waypoint ODADC3), then traverse under small cliffs into the gully that leads up and right to the ridge. I went up the face on the east (right) side of the ridge, but without a doubt climbing the south (left) side of the ridge near the base of the ridge is beter!

Follow the main drainage for a short distance, and watch for a side gully at 3000' (waypoint ODADC4). Make sure you're in the right-most gully leading to a nice saddle on the ridge, not the drainage line marked on the USGS maps. I got onto ridge proper near 3200' (waypoint ODADC5) where there is a pleasant little flat saddle.

I went straight up ridgeline from here, which is class 2-3 but with VERY sharp rocks (bring work gloves). There are ducks on the ridge to 3450', and all obstacles are bypassed on the right. The ridgeline goes cliffy at 3500' (waypoint ODADC6), and I left the ridge before finding a ducked route well to the right of the ridgeline. I found a very nice wide and almost level ledge leading right (to waypoint ODADC7). I don't think this ledge matches any part of the DPS Guide route!

The ledge turns left around a small corner, and there are a series of caves visible uphill. I climbed up past the caves, exiting right from the top of that chute at 3750' (waypoint ODADC8). Continuing up and slightly right on a rocky open slope, there were more ducks. I climbed up under a large overhang at 3850', and traversed right to 4' of 3rd class (waypoint ODADC9) that lead to much easier terrain.

Ridge rocks near the ledge:

I drifted up and right from here to at least 3950', where I started to angle left toward the summit. Below 4000' the ridge looks very nasty, while the slope I came up was quite easy. I headed southwest straight to the top from here.

On top (waypoint OLDADM, 4250') less than 2.5 hours after leaving the car, I was shocked at the temperature difference. A frigid wind howled but there were rocks to hide behind. It took 10 minutes to get a cell phone call even though I had perfect cell service at the 2WD trailhead. (See radio towers on map!) I was back to the car about 4.5 hours from when I left, even with 3 miles of walking between the 2WD and 4WD trailheads.



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