Kessler Peak And Teutonia Peak
On 24 November 2018, I arrived early at Providence Mountains State Recreation Area (SRA) located within California's Mojave National Preserve (NP).  Providence Mountains SRA re-opened in 2017 after being closed for a number of years, and I was eager to climb a couple of peaks within the SRA that had been on my radar for quite some time.  Unfortunately, I found out shortly after entering the SRA that the backcountry was off-limits on this day due to safety concerns.  This caught me by surprise, and I had to scramble, so to speak, to find a Plan B.  Having already squandered half the morning waiting to get into the SRA (they are only open from 8AM to 5PM, Friday thru Sunday), I opted to drive north and tackle Kessler Peak just off Cima Road in the northern half of Mojave NP.  If I had time, I would also include nearby Teutonia Peak.

Disappointing start to the day, but I will be back!

The moon sets over the Providence Mountains.  Unfortunately, the peaks are not accessible on this day due to a backcountry closure.


I had a vague recollection of Bob Spirko's trip reports for Kessler Peak and Teutonia Peak, but without any Internet available, I had no way to access any route details or to even know where to start.  Fortunately, Kessler Peak is not a difficult mountain to climb, and I basically parked my car on the side of the highway and made a beeline for the base of the west slopes.  The worst part of the whole ascent was the tedious approach which quickly turned into a game of finding the path of least resistance through annoying low bushes while avoiding nastier plants like cacti or chollas.  There are a few significant cliff bands on the west slopes of Kessler Peak, but with a bit of careful route-finding, I was able to avoid any difficult climbing.  After gaining a rather rugged false summit, I continued up more easy slopes over a second false summit before finally topping out on the true summit which has a survey marker and register.
The low bushes are the real annoyance here! Joshua trees dot the landscape on the western approach to Kessler Peak.
Doesn't look too hard from here... Here is a view to the west of Teutonia Peak from the lower slopes of Kessler Peak.
Not too steep, but the rocks are horribly loose! This is typical of the terrain on the west slopes of Kessler Peak.
And I'm looking up at the second false summit! Sonny looks up after reaching the first of two false summits.
A taste of what was to come later on Teutonia Peak... The first false summit is quite rugged.

My consolation prize after being denied Edgar and Fountain Peaks.

Sonny stands on the summit of Kessler Peak (1876 metres).


Let's go squeeze that pimple! To the west, Teutonia Peak is merely a pimple on the broad volcanic remnant known as Cima Dome.
Both of these mountains are on my to-do list in the future... Kingston Peak (distant left) and Clark Mountain (right) stand out to the northwest.
There's a whole lot of nothing out there! Northeast of Kessler Peak is the vast expanse of Ivanpah Valley.
I'm still choked that I couldn't climb Edgar and Fountain Peaks on this day! The Providence Mountains are shrouded in clouds to the south.  The light patch at centre are the Kelso Dunes.
Ah, the good ol' days! Some of the entries in Kessler Peak's summit register date back to 1975.
On descent, I retraced my steps to the first false summit and then took a slightly different route down the west slopes.  Rocks here are exasperatingly loose which made the descent feel like a big long stumble.  At one point, I inadvertently bumped into a prickly pear cactus, and I spent a substantial amount of time afterwards picking spines out of my butt cheeks!  I was in a bit of a foul mood when I resumed hiking, and there were more than a few curses uttered as I thrashed my way across the desert flats back to Cima Road.
I was starting to get really annoyed with all the grabby and pokey vegetation! This is looking back at the west slopes of Kessler Peak from the bushy desert floor.
When I reached Cima Road, I simply crossed it and continued winding through the desert flats toward Teutonia Peak.  Had I recalled Spirko's trip report more vividly, I would have known that there is actually a trail which approaches the north end of Teutonia Peak and which originates from a trailhead only a short distance north of where I parked my car.  Alas, I had to find my own way through more tedious bushy terrain although the occasional short-lived clearing granted some temporary relief from the suffering.  As I got closer to Teutonia Peak, I headed for an obvious notch near its south end.  From the notch, I turned north and easily scrambled up what Spirko refers to as South Peak.  Just north of South Peak is Centre Peak which is the true summit, but getting there entails a drop into a gap followed by a scramble up an exposed rock face and crack.  Although the route looked daunting at first, it turned out to be fairly straightforward as I was able to find good holds where I needed them.  A summit register can be found tucked in a small cairn on top of Centre Peak.
It's farther away than it looks! Traversing across the desert to the base of Teutonia Peak can be quite tedious.
Unfortunately, most of them peter out after only a short distance... A few small washes like this one provide some relief from the prickly desert bushes.
At this point, I still wasn't sure if this was the correct route to reach the summit. The notch at centre near the south end of Teutonia Peak provides easy access to the upper mountain.
This is where things get interesting... Sonny hikes past a large boulder on the south ridge of Teutonia Peak.
Not as bad as it seemed upon first glance! This is the view of Teutonia Peak's Centre Peak from the South Peak (1741 metres).  Sonny's approximate ascent route is shown.
Made me forget about Edgar and Fountain Peaks...for now! Sonny raises his arms in triumph as he holds up the register on top of Centre Peak (1744 metres) which is also the true summit of Teutonia Peak.
We're getting into Class 5 terrain here... The connecting ridge to North Peak is more complex than it looks.
I was just there about 3.5 hours ago! In contrast, Kessler Peak looks rather uncomplicated to the east.
After signing the summit register on top of Centre Peak, I turned my attention to another high point further north which Spirko refers to as North Peak.  Unfortunately, pinnacles along the summit ridge prevent an easy traverse from peak to peak.  Probably the best way to traverse the summit ridge is along the base of the cliffs on the east side just as Spirko's party had done (in reverse), but too lazy to backtrack, I ended up slithering down a difficult crack on the north side of Centre Peak and eventually ended up on the west side of the summit ridge.  The terrain here is rugged and difficult, but with a bit of luck and route-finding, I managed to get around to the north end of the summit ridge.  I was surprised to see a few hikers here and only realized later that they must have come up the aforementioned trail which ends at this spot.  Reaching the top of North Peak requires climbing up a low Class 5 chimney followed by a short but exposed walk up a knife-edged boulder.  I was a bit apprehensive at first about tackling this route solo, but once I got my hands on the rock, it turned out to be a lot of fun.
Probably the toughest scrambling of the day. The crack on the left provides a difficult but feasible route to descend the north side of Centre Peak.
It's best to stick as close as possible to the base of the cliffs. Negotiating the terrain below the cliffs on the west side of Teutonia Peak is far from trivial.
I hope I can get down from here... Sonny stands on top of North Peak (1741 metres).
The central summit looks rather daunting from here. I'm glad I don't have to go back that way! This is a looking southeast from North Peak along the connecting ridge to Centre Peak.
Just need one more geological feature and we'll have the Kingston Trio! Northwest of Teutonia Peak is another vast drainage known as Kingston Wash.  Kingston Peak stands out on the right horizon.
Although I'm not sure what they do on this ranch, I am confident that it is NOT a brothel! The New York Mountains dominate the southeast horizon.  Barely visible at centre in front of the low ridge is Kessler Ranch.
After tagging the top of North Peak, I descended the same way, and although down-climbing the chimney was challenging, it was much easier than the crack on the north side of Centre Peak.  By the time I got down to easier ground, the hikers at the north end had disappeared, but unsure of which way they went, I simply descended the east side of Teutonia Peak.  This was not as straightforward as I was hoping, but with some more careful route-finding, I managed to work my way safely back down to the desert flats.  The rest of the hike back to my parked car was again tedious but uneventful.

Despite the disappointment of having to forego my original objectives in Providence Mountains SRA, I was happy to still salvage the day with my ascents of Kessler Peak and Teutonia Peak.  Furthermore, Teutonia Peak's challenging summit ridge proved to be surprisingly fun.  This wrapped up my relatively quick but very enjoyable solo road trip (I drove to northern Utah that night and made it back to Calgary the following evening) which saw me tag 10 summits, sleep in the back of my Honda CR-V for 5 out of 9 nights, and drive over 5256 kilometres.
Possibly low 5th Class but fun as heck! This is the crux for gaining access to the top of North Peak.
Not the easiest way down, but it is direct! This is looking back up the section along the east side of Teutonia Peak that Sonny descended.

The end of another beautiful day in the Mojave Desert!

The top of Kessler Peak glows late in the day.


Turned out to be a more interesting trip than I was expecting. Total Distance:  9.8 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  6 hours 56 minutes
Net Elevation Gain to Kessler Peak:  353 metres

Net Elevation Gain to Teutonia (Centre) Peak:  221 metres
Cumulative Elevation Gain:  687 metres

GPX Data