Ibex Peak (AZ)

January 3, 2022


Quartzsite, AZ

Ibex Peak is an iconic pyramid that boasts over 300m/1000ft prominence a few dozen kilometers to the NE of Quartzsite. This area is not known for climbing or mountainous activities so this peak is still largely unknown to most, except for the locals. The standard route is mostly “class 2” with a short approach, but the crux is the drive-in, as the mining roads off Plomosa Road do require a 4×4, high clearance vehicle. Adam had previously driven his Subaru to near the end of the road but he was not keen to do that again. Knowing how much Adam pushes his vehicle I would expect this access to be fully truck/Jeep/ATV country for the averaged drivers.

Adam’s primary objective was Haystack Peak which is only marginally lower than Ibex Peak but is considerably more difficult. Adam had tried that peak in the past but couldn’t make the summit. Matthias decided at the last minute to join us for this twofer outing with his trusty 4Runner with some of the most aggressive off-road tires I’ve seen. With that vehicle we would have no problem making to the driveable end to not make this day any longer than needed. Adam and I car-camped on a spot on Plomosa Road that clearly had a sign of “No Camping”, but we plainly ignored it. It was already dark by the time we parked at that spot, so the chance of getting caught and fined was next to zero. Indeed, nobody came around to fuss with us overnight and Matthias showed up at daybreak. We left Adam’s Subaru on that spot. The roads were all correctly marked on my Gaia’s map but there seemed to have too many spur roads to confuse us. I had also downloaded the satellite images so with the two map layers we had no problem navigating to the road’s end. We only had to do one minor backtrack and that’s mostly because I failed to pay attention. The last 500 m was extremely rough even for Matthias’ 4Runner but with some determination we still made there.

Ibex Peak and Haystack Peak scramble link-up. GPX DL

Matthias and I decided to scramble Ibex Peak first but Adam didn’t want to repeat. The plan was made to regroup at Ibex/Haystack col a couple hours later. The key passage of Ibex Peak’s scramble route is a ramp/gully on the NW slopes. None of us had done much research so we just aimed towards the NW Ridge and tried to keep a straight-line bearing. Some micro-terrain forced us to detour left or right at times. I don’t think we had taken the most efficient path, but in the bigger picture it really didn’t matter. At just below the NW Ridge crest we traversed climber’s left to access that gully/ramp and the going was mostly straightforward.

Matthias scrambling along Ibex Peak’s approach
The NE Face of Ibex Peak looming impressively
Looking south from a brief moment cresting the NW Ridge
That ramp is basically right at the base of the cliff face
Matthias traversing towards the ramp

The ramp itself turned out to be quite tame with maybe 2 or 3 moves that could be called “class 3”. Had we looked harder for the easiest path this scramble could stay entirely within “class 2”. We ditched our backpacks above the ramp since we would definitely go back via the same route. The upper west slopes seemed like a slog and the summit felt anticlimactic as it’s rather just a broad plateau. We also had to pay close attention to not get stabbed by chollas on this upper west slopes. This summit “plateau” is rather just another cholla garden.

We would ascend this easy-looking ramp to the “col” above
I wondered if anybody had climbed this vertical face made of choss…
Looking back down onto the desert floor
The typical plod on the upper west slopes
Summit Panorama from Ibex Peak. Click to view large size.
There are roads in this valley that goes much closer to Ibex/Haystack col
Haystack Peak would be our next objective
A closer look at the summit of Haystack Peak
A group of peaks to the south that are higher than Ibex Peak
This is looking far to the SW towards Cunningham Mountain
Me on the summit of Ibex Peak

To retrace our route back to the backpacks we had to consult with the GPS multiple times, as the upper slopes were somewhat disorienting. To link Ibex Peak towards Haystack Peak we descended the full stretch of that NW side ramp and then made a long traversing descent to the first col on the NE side of Ibex Peak. This long stretch of traversing was at most “class 2” but slow-going and unpleasant. We then traversed across the south slopes of the subsidiary bump between Ibex Peak and Haystack Peak on some game trails and met Adam at the second col closer to Haystack Peak.

Time to descend this ramp
Matthias partway down the ramp. It’s easier than it looks
Traversing a long ways towards the first col between Ibex and Haystack Peaks
As you can see, the terrain along this traverse wasn’t the most pleasant
Matthias now traversing across the south face of a secondary bump
Matthias almost at the second col between Ibex and Haystack, with Ibex Peak behind