Tank Mountains High Point

January 2, 2022


Kofa Mountains, AZ

Tank Mountains is a sub range in the eastern portion of Kofa Mountains. This area is extremely remote such that the drive-in itself is a major undertake and takes several hours even with a 4×4, high clearance vehicle. Courthouse Mountain is the only officially-named peak in this area but it isn’t the highest point. The highest peak in Tank Mountains isn’t as iconic as Courthouse Mtn. but still offers an exciting class 4 finish on the summit block. Earlier in the day Adam, Greg and I had just made an exploratory climb of Courthouse Mountain. We then drove a few kilometers back towards Engesser Pass. We had Matthias’ GPS track to follow on this secondary objective so the navigation should not be a problem. The drive-in from the New Hope is written in Courthouse Mountain’s trip report with a GPX file included.

Tank Mountains High Point scramble route. GPX DL

The approach uses a wash system from the NE. None of us had done much homework asides from downloading the GPX file so we simply let the story unfold itself. The approach was overall straightforward but became bushy in spots with lots of catclaws thrown in. Adam had set a blistering pace up the washes as he probably wanted to get off the mountain and drive as far back as possible in daylight hours. After eventually getting out of the wash we ascended a mix of scree and talus due towards the peak and the terrain was not the prettiest. At this point we started to discuss that this peak probably should not appear on Adam’s “secret fun peaks list” but little did we know that the real excitement of this peak was only the summit block, the final 5% of the climb.

Greg’s Tundra parked on Engesser Pass Road
Adam leading us into the approach wash
The typical going in this wash
Higher up we encountered a narrow section that felt more like a canyon
Adam checking his phone to make sure we didn’t deviate from Matthias’s track
Steep and loose. This approach does not have the greatest scrambling quality
Greg gaining elevation quickly, with another Tank Mountains’ higher peak behind
Adam leading the way, still following Matthias’ GPS track closely

We had to scramble around some terrain to reach the base of the summit block. Greg and I took a higher line that involved traversing a class 4 slab pitch while Adam went down and around to avoid that. Just when we thought this peak would turn out too easy/boring we saw a deep notch separating us from the true summit. We had to descend towards skier’s left to get into this chasm and scrambled the middle of this chasm to the base of the summit block. The scramble on the summit block looked rather sketchy so I took my time donning rock shoes and harness. The first crux was a class 4 chimney move that required arm strength and then we had several options. Greg went first to try the direct attack. Though not looking super technical this line had extreme exposure such that Greg backed off. Meanwhile Adam and I checked out the far climber’s left option by first descending a short ways down a gully on the SW side. We then scrambled a class 3 shallow chimney to the SW side of the summit. I took out the rope and soloed a short pitch of low class 5 slab and belayed Adam to the summit. Greg eventually went farther climber’s left and found some class 4 slabs and down-sloping ledges to finish the scramble. We determined that the scramble was so fun that even with a long ass drive and a boring approach this peak still makes that secret list.

We went off-route briefly and stayed too far climber’s left
That obvious notch beside the “thumb” was the key passage of our route
A full view of the class 4 summit block from the false summit
Me and the summit block. Our route up the first half turned out to be red line.
Adam scrambling to the base of the true summit block
Looking back towards Courthouse Mountain that we bagged a few hours earlier
Me in the lower gully before things became interesting
Adam and Greg coming up this cholla-infested gully
Greg about to finish the chimney step, Adam trying a higher route that didn’t work
Greg went for another route climber’s right of Adam’s and it still didn’t work…
Adam then followed me scrambling up and over that key notch passage
Me checking out the far climber’s left (SW) side
Adam then scrambled up this chossy 3rd class shallow gully onto the SW Face
Me leading the final slab pitch onto the summit
The other Tank Mountains’ major peak is only 1 or 2 meters lower
Peaks in this picture are probably even more remote than the ones we just did
The north face of Courthouse Mountain
Summit Panorama from Tank Mountains High Point. Click to view large size.
Signal Peak and Squaw Peak in the main Kofa Mountains
Me on the summit of Tank Mountains High Point
Another photo of me on the summit of Tank Mountains High Point
Greg checking his phone probably logging his peakbagger app

I belayed Adam to down-climb the slabs using the same anchor. Greg and I then down-climbed the slabs using different variations and then we all down-climbed that lower chimney crux. We paid more attention in route-finding on the descent to the washes to avoid unnecessary difficulties. The plod out of the wash was bushy but short.

Adam down-climbing that chimney step. I down-climbed this step facing inward
We still had some route-finding to travers around these false summit towers
Descending off the false summit area
The typical terrain to descend the NE slopes
Eventually we got back down into the wash

Greg’s tires were still looking good so that’s a relief. We had to remember that we had no spare tire at this point and we still had 3+ hours of driving to get out. Greg played more patiently and eventually got us back to New Hope after sunset. Meanwhile Adam was texting Matthias to plan out the next day’s objectives and I texted the world renowned peak-bagger Rob Woodall who happened to visit from U.K. for some peak-bagging in the desert. Rob, Adam and I scheduled to meet up in Quartzsite to briefly catch up and lay out the following week’s plan.