5 more peaks…

Today’s adventure was again exploring some of the various peaks on the Borrego Benchmark Club list. Being New Year’s Day, I wasn’t planning on anything too extreme or requiring me to wake up early. I found three around Little Blair Valley and a couple near Borrego Springs that fit the bill. Alberto Martinez joined me for this adventure.

First up was Foot and Walker Benchmark, just a bit down Little Blair Valley Road. We found the turnout, grabbed our gear, and began working our way up the steep slope. Quickly we found ourselves on the summit. To our west, Granite stood impressively. Alberto is looking to climb it soon and was asking about my route from 2019. To the south was Blair Valley, Ghost Mountain. There was no mark or register to be found. After a few photos, we returned to the car and drove a short distance to tackle our second peak, Shake Benchmark.

This peak was similar in difficulty and distance, so again we were quickly atop its summit. This peak did have a benchmark and register. The views were very similar to Foot and Walker, and still lovely.

The third peak on my list was Arena Benchmark. I drove back up the S2 to the turnoff that The third peak on my list was Arena Benchmark. I drove back up the S2 to the turnoff that normally one would tackle to hike Whale Peak. Taking a quick left, I drove along the dirt road to the trailhead. There were a couple of spots where I had some need for my high clearance, but nothing too extreme. Once we parked, we scanned for a good route up. We again quickly found ourselves on the ridgeline and followed it east toward the summit.

The views were breathtaking, the air was extremely clear, and the Salton Sea was easy to see off to our east. Our southern view was now dominated by Whale Peak. We signed the register and took our photos and headed back down.

The next peak for the day was Ship Benchmark. This peak was going to be another short one, but it was just off the S3. Although we had packed a lunch, I figured we probably would be able to grab some Mexican food in Borrego Springs. We climbed the rocky slope to the summit and found the benchmark. However, we again were rewarded with some impressive vistas. Now we could see Borrego Springs to our north. The snow-capped San Gorgonio and Toro Peak could be seen as well. We were starting to get hungry, so we returned to the car and headed into town.

After refueling, I decided to swap out our next planned peak. Originally, I thought about hiking Hans Benchmark, but instead, I suggested we go for Lute Benchmark. If you have ever climbed Villager Peak, the sloping shelf off the west as you make your way toward the Villager Ridge is where Lute Benchmark sits. So we parked at the Villager trailhead and set off. Following the path along the desert floor north, we reached the turn-off to begin the east climb along the slope. It was weird looking at Villager and the other peaks in the Santa Rosas in the middle of the day. Usually, we are taking in this view at dawn.  We kept heading west until we finally spotted two cement pedestals upon which the benchmarks were mounted. After taking our photos, we started back down. Almost at the junction with the Villager path, we met two other hikers making their way up. We chatted a bit before parting company.

With that our 5 peak adventure was over. While I did entertain doing Hans Benchmark, I was just beat enough and I was also the driver. This was a fun day hopping around Anza-Borrego and kicking the New Year off right.

I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea-kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

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