Beautiful Blue Borax Benchmark

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Death Valley Dazed
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Beautiful Blue Borax Benchmark

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Tue May 01, 2018 1:58 pm

A fun but failed April 2018 attempt to connect with upper Twenty Mule Team over and into Artists Palette by way of the beautiful blue Borax Benchmark. I was just one dry-fall away from success but I didn't want to turn it into a dead-fall. LOL



I thought about our very own Mojave Geek's lovely panoramas of the same area while hiking around there.
http://web.media.mit.edu/~geek/dv_panos.html
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SSSdave
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Re: Beautiful Blue Borax Benchmark

Post by SSSdave » Wed May 02, 2018 9:27 am

Image

From your brief comments and images, it looks like you may have taken a similar route to what I did on March 19, 2016,
http://www.davidsenesac.com/2016_Trip_ ... html#mar19

on my Black Mountains badlands adventure, to reach the top of the range. A route I purposely left vague in my feature to keep it a difficult challenge and not lead to less skilled never returning. Very few others have ever been up there given the confusing badlands maze-like terrain with difficult sections to overcome, though would not be at all surprised if some other of you locals on this board have. I was not trying to cross the range like you but rather just reach the top as there is much colorful geology. I did see a couple old ducks at the entrance of one key wash gully so know at least one other person has figured it out in the last decade or so. However beyond the first challenge there were no footprints in any wash sands indicating the ducks were placed a few years before. It takes more than strong topographic map skills because of the frequent cliff-like badlands small scale features like dryfalls and steep crumbling slopes that are less than the 40 foot granularity on topos.

From my images, one can see that there are nice areas of wildflowers up there given decent rains like we had before my 2016 Super Bloom visit. As someone that lives a long ways off in the SF Bay Area, I will only be returning during the next wet year when conditions are green and flowery. If so will contact you as I hope to go back and would welcome someone with your experience along and maybe even doing so as an overnight backpack.

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Beautiful Blue Borax Benchmark

Post by MojaveGeek » Thu May 03, 2018 5:23 pm

So, Dazed, looking at your scratches on the google earth pic (I do so with more people would just get on with it and use topos, much easier to figure you where you've been!) it appears that you went in via 20 Mule Team, in what is actually the main drainage there, with a bunch of space for cars to park and the site of the old assay building? I have had issues with that approach. When I went up Borax BM in 2012 I went via the drainage to the NE (not Corkscrew, but the first real drainage to the right as you go up the Corkscrew wash); I was following Kauri's virtual footsteps there (no we did not see any real tracks). On the way down we headed to the base of Monte Bellow and followed the drainage NW hoping to come down into 20 Mule Team (we'd parked at the pavement where the 20 Mule Team road comes out). We hit a fairly major dryfall and as it was getting late, we packed it in and went back out the way we had come in.

This year we got an early start and headed up from 20 Mule Team, trying the right (as you go up) fork in the canyon to see if it would go. We hit a pretty nasty nearly vertical wall with a bunch of loose bits and decided not to try it.

So, we were stumped. But you got up. How? I can't really tell from your sketchy track. I looks like you took the left fork. Did you hit a big dryfall? If so, how did you bypass it? Alternative way of asking, where did you get out of the wash?

You did some good exploring up there but I have been pretty dubious there would ever be a way in to Artist Palette from that side. I've also looked up that way from the Palette. It took two tries, but we did eventually get a route to go into the base of the Blue Mountain. That was fun.

I'll be back, as Arnie said, and I'm really curious about your route. I just can't figure it out from the video.

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Death Valley Dazed
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That damn dryfall - MojaveGeek and SSSdave

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Sun May 06, 2018 5:58 am

MojaveGeek,

If I'd known there would be forum interest in the details of my jaunt I would have documented better. I did not take any images of the dry fall below or above.

I don't know where the old assay office is but I parked about half mile in from the exit of 20 Mule Road to the pavement. The spot has a drive off where three or four cars can park off the south as the dirt road curves east to north and where the main draining wash heads down alongside the road.

It's a lovely hike up the wash with just a few scampers up some sloped dry falls until to stay left and hit the main obstacle/dry fall. Just prior to this main dry fall is another very steep and impassable dry fall to right hand. On a prior trip, I explored down that small drainage to the top of this dry fall. One would need ropes and gear to ascend or descend.

So back to the main dry fall. I've bypassed it three times now. The first time was crawling up the very steep scree field to the left and scooting well above the dry fall and back south/right into the wash above the dry fall. The second time was even more difficult crawling on all fours up the very steep clay slope to the immediate right/south of the dry fall. The third time and most recent of mention in this video was a repeat of the first time. The return in the video is over back over and down that same scree frield.

I intend to eventually summit the Blue Mountain via a route from Artist Palette circling around its base from south to east to its north ridge. I'm fascinated by the blue color and the geology, i.e. that "Z" shaped pattern on its north ridge face. It's fun being out there because it's so isolated.

SSSdave,

You wrote: "Very few others have ever been up there given the confusing badlands maze-like terrain with difficult sections to overcome, though would not be at all surprised if some other of you locals on this board have."

Thanks for the link to your jaunt through upper Artist Palette to Borax Benchmark. Your images of the geology and flowers are real eye candy. I had forgotten about a prior video I made covering similar territory a few years ago:

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Beautiful Blue Borax Benchmark

Post by MojaveGeek » Sun May 06, 2018 1:35 pm

So it sounds like your preferred route is the very steep scree field to the left . When you say "crawl", do you mean that literally? Is the slope unstable?

Obviously people get up there!

Yes I looked up at the dryfall in the right fork and said "no way". And I've looked down at the big dryfall in the left fork from above, and also said "no way". Maybe third time will be the charm for me! Thanks for the clarifications.

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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: Beautiful Blue Borax Benchmark

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Mon May 07, 2018 1:45 pm

MojaveGeek wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 1:35 pm
So it sounds like your preferred route is the very steep scree field to the left . When you say "crawl", do you mean that literally? Is the slope unstable?
Yes, the steep scree to the left if preferred and I do mean crawl. A good pair of gloves is now standard equipment on every hike and I've worn out several pairs. For balance and traction up that scree, the four-point is recommended. For safety, since it's so steep (seems even steeper than the natural angle of repose but of course that's impossible.) I lean in on my arms and hands so in case my feet sleep away I'll be ending up in a belly slide down rather than the dangerous and possibly lethal over backward into a head crashing event.

The scree is unstable in that one will do some sliding or backsliding but not dangerous in my opinion. The underneath is soft enough for one to kick out boot holds for resting and stabilizing. I've been able to go up and down twice without incident or being frightened but definitely paying attention to detail and every step.

A good "boulderer" could scale right up that rock plugged dry fall but I prefer not to even get close to "precarious" when out alone. So far, I've never used ropes or gear to bypass dry falls. If it takes that sort of technical I just go somewhere else.

FYI - I tried a parallel canyon to the west last Feb 2018 as a shortcut up to the Borax Benchmark but that was impossible due to a huge dry fall.

I'm intrigued by this whole area and my next "assault will most likely be via Artists's Palette working my way east over the ridgelines until I can summit big beautiful "Blue Top."

Thanks for your panos, trip reports, and exchanges about this mysterious area!
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MojaveGeek
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Re: Beautiful Blue Borax Benchmark

Post by MojaveGeek » Wed May 09, 2018 5:24 am

I'm really looking forward to seeing if you can work out a route to the top of "Big Blue"!

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TonyG
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Re: Beautiful Blue Borax Benchmark

Post by TonyG » Sat May 19, 2018 7:21 pm

DV Dazed, your video posted on May 6 is fascinating, it's as if one were there in person!

Have you ever thought of using a GPS tracker app to record your exploits--and maybe posting the tracks? Something like the free Geo Tracker app on Android? If one is concerned with the battery going dead too soon, a $15-$30 battery charger is good for up to 5 full charges. :smile:

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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: Beautiful Blue Borax Benchmark

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Tue May 22, 2018 7:31 am

TonyG wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 7:21 pm
It's as if one were there in person! Have you ever thought of using a GPS tracker app
Well, thanks for the compliment TonyG. I try to make my videos immersive for the viewer and not distracting them with clutter, like my ugly mug selfie in the middle of a beautiful scene. LOL The videos are about Death Valley, not me. BTW, they are public domain, not copyrighted and free to share.

One of my best friends is totally into the GPS tracking and I do understand how and why it's fun and practical to employ. I choose to keep my forays into DV as simple as possible with a foldable map, camera, and iPhone as my only gadgets. Half the fun for me is just wandering and stumbling around until I finally figure things out and reach the destination or come back and try again.

Other reasons: Several hiking sites already list the necessary GPS data for most hikes in the park. I am not and have no plans to be a "guide" or "trip advisor" in any official capacity. I am not a technically skilled explorer and use no ropes or metal gear. If I can't scramble up and down safely, I don't go there.

In short, I do hope that my videos inspire people to get out and explore DV in their own way, by their own means and in their own time.
Life begins in Death Valley

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