Elephant Back Mountain

January 1, 2022


Quartzsite, AZ

Elephant Back Mountain is one of those small, but officially-named summits that does not boast any mountaineering interest. The peak might appear innocent, but covered in chollas and choss. In fact, this was probably the worst peak that Adam and I tagged in this Christmas-New Year trip. Earlier in the day we had scrambled Dos Picachos based of “no beta”. We were quite satisfied but the day was still young and we noticed the name “Elephant Back Mountain” on the maps. We figured that to add this summit into the day wouldn’t cost more than 2 extra hours. The decision was made to make a direct dash from the bottom of Dos Picachos towards Elephant Back Mountain.

Dos Picachos and Elephant Back Mtn. from north. GPX DL

My original plan was to stay more-or-less on the connecting ridge but that involved at least two or three minor bumps. We descended too far off Dos Picachos’ north slope and from our current position the better option was to descend even further to link up several washes. Adam led most of the way since I had very little motivation about this add-on summit. To link up those washes we had to scramble up and over a few ridges with a lot of side-hilling. Upwards again the terrain on the south slopes of Elephant Back Mountain felt like those loose, volcanic type of choss covered in chollas and other types of thorny plants. Wearing trail-runners started to seem like a non-ideal decision but we also wouldn’t want to carry boots for such a lame objective. Thankfully the slog to the summit was not a notably long one.

Adam with Elephant Back Mountain ahead.
We descended into some dry washes
Bashing up the loose south slopes
Looking back at Dos Picachos with Black Mesa farther behind
Choss slope covered in chollas and cactus…
Summit Panorama from Elephant Back Mountain. Click to view large size.
Adam nearing the summit of Elephant Back Mountain
The typical desert peaks in this area with more chollas in foreground
Me on the summit of Elephant Back Mountain

The summit was again, quite windy so we quickly started the descent. I said we should make a straight beeline towards the vehicle to minimize the distance. The descent off the east slopes was just as shitty with lots of loose rocks. There was even one cliff band that forced us to backtrack slightly. We eventually descended into some washes and the washes eventually brought us back to the deactivated mining road only minutes from the vehicle. Adam then carefully drove us out of the dirt roads and our next destination was the gas station in New Hope, about half an hour to the east.

Adam starting the descent
Bypassing a shear cliff band
Looking back at the east ridge of Elephant Back Mtn. that we descended
We again, linked up several washes to plod back out