Edgar Peak (7162 feet) and Mitchell Point (7047 feet) are the 2 highest peaks in the Providence Mountains, a rugged desert range located in Mojave National Preserve just north of I-40. The summit of Edgar Peak and the immediate vicinity is actually located within Providence Mountains State Recreation Area. Based on previous reports, there seemed to be some access issues regarding the state park. The park had apparently been closed for a few years and is now only open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays from 8am-5pm. I didn’t want to deal with those limited hours, so I chose to start and end the hike from outside the state park boundary. My plan was to ascend the east ridge of Mitchell (DPS route D), traverse the connecting ridge to Edgar, then descend Gilroy Canyon. I had driven in the night before and parked on a dirt road due east of Mitchell Point. I had intended to reach Bonanza King Mine but stopped about a mile and a half short because the road was too rough for my liking. From Essex Road, I drove north on a well graded dirt road signed for 7IL Ranch for a few miles and then turned left onto a rough road signed for BK Mine (Bonanza King). I only made it about a quarter mile on this road before parking. I started hiking at 5:35am from 3574 feet above sea level.
I hiked west on the dirt road towards the mountain range. The road actually wasn’t too bad until it forked about a mile in. I took the left fork towards the mine and found the remainder of the road to be extremely rocky. To the east I could see the crescent moon rising as the sky began to light up.
I turned off my headlamp as I neared the foot of the mountain range. The wind was howling in the early morning.
At 1.6 miles I reached some old stone cabins at the end of the road. The mine itself was just to the north.
I then hiked southwest across the desert for a short way to the base of Mitchell’s east ridge. Edgar Peak can be seen on the far left and Mitchell’s east ridge is in the center.
I reached the base of the ridge at 2 miles at 4316 feet.
The sun began to crest the horizon behind me.
The sun lit up the ridge in front of me.
Desert sunrises are the best sunrises.
The climbing quickly became difficult as I made my way up the ridge. I had to make a few class 3 moves up some cliff sections. The DPS guide states this route is class 2 so you can likely avoid the class 3 sections if you are good enough with your route finding.
There were a few sections where the climbing was easier. Thankfully, the wind wasn’t so bad on the ridge.
I tried to stick as close as I could to the ridge crest, but at times I had to downclimb to the left to get around some vertical parts.
As I climbed higher, I decided this was some of the most difficult terrain I had ever been on. So much of the rock was steep and crumbly. There was also an abundance of sharp, pointy plants, primarily prickly pear and agave. Previous reports had actually led me to believe that the cactus density was going to be worse than it was. I was expecting to essentially be bushwacking through cactus, but it was nowhere near as bad as I feared.
My progress slowed to under 1 mph. The peak looked close, but I knew it was still far away. The last half mile or so was definitely the hardest. I alternated between the knife edge ridge and the steep, slabby stuff just below on the left.
As I got closer, I heard the sound of rocks falling and I saw 3 bighorn sheep scampering down from just below the summit. I had a good view of them for a minute or two as they ran down and off to the left. They eventually disappeared behind a ridge, but I managed to get a few blurry pictures. If you look closely at the picture below, at least 2 of them are noticeable in the center.
Near the top I crossed to the other side of the ridge. I found a few tiny snow patches on the north facing side of the mountain. It must still be left over from the storms we had around Christmas and New Years (I don’t think it’s rained/snowed since).
I climbed up the last portion below the summit.
I reached the summit at 9:07am at 4.2 miles!
I signed the register which dated back to 1979. There were actually entries from an older register all the way back to 1958 that had been copied into the first few pages. I’m not sure I had ever seen that done before. The most recent entry was from January 10. I also located the benchmark.
Edgar Peak loomed about a mile and a half to the south.
I took a short break and then continued to Edgar. I downclimbed a small dip in the ridge to the south and then went up the other side. It was getting warm, which was surprising for a January day at 7000 feet.
The ridge traverse to Edgar was as slow and difficult as the ascent to Mitchell.
I tried to stay on top of the ridge as much as I could, but I had to downclimb to the left to get around a few cliff sections along the way.
There was a lot of side hilling on loose, treacherous slopes.
Eventually I reached a saddle northwest of the peak at 5.6 miles. I was at 6141 feet so it would be a steep 1000 foot climb from this point.
The first 700 or so feet of this part was extremely steep, but otherwise not difficult terrain. I then turned left and climbed the remaining few hundred feet from the west. This part had very large boulders which required some class 3 moves.
I reached the summit at 11:58am at 6.5 miles! There was a small weather station on top. I signed the register which dated to 1999. The most recent entry was from December 11. There was also an older book which dated to 1988. It was a clear sunny day, so the views were excellent from this 2k prominence peak. To the south I could see Old Woman Mountain with Clipper Mountain in the foreground.
The New York Mountains to the northeast:
To the north I could see Mitchell Point. Clark Mountain is behind Mitchell with snow-capped Mount Charleston poking out behind Clark.
Avawatz Mountain and snow-capped Telescope Peak to the northwest:
And San Gorgonio to the southwest:
I began descending after a nice break. I took a slightly different route off the summit, descending to the north rather than to the west. There was at least one tricky section to downclimb, but I thought it as easier than the ascent route.
I then hiked down a very steep forested slope to the north. I was aiming for Gilroy Canyon, a large canyon that drains the area north of Edgar.
I proceeded down the canyon. Despite the canyon being very brushy, this part seemed easy after the ascent of Mitchell and traverse to Edgar.
I reached the bottom of the canyon at 9.1 miles. I then walked ENE across the open desert for about 2.5 miles to reach my car again. I had to roll myself underneath a barbed wire fence at the boundary between the state park and Mojave National Preserve. I reached the car at 3:22pm. Stats for this hike were 11.67 miles, 4616 feet elevation gain, and 9:47:04 total time.
I packed up and made the long drive home to San Diego. I had to stop briefly on the drive out for cattle to cross the road.