After work, I started out across the desert from afar, hiking nearly three miles to get near the base of the peak. Following a colorful wash past cholla, slickrock and mesquite, I soon gained the base of the crumbly ridge that would give me access to the southeast face of the peak.

The face, as it turned out, was delightful. Class 4 in several spots, the route-finding was intricate but never terribly difficult. Soon, I was on the summit, where I found a large cairn and a register in an Altoids can. Placed in 2003, the peak had been dubbed “Fortress.”

After signing in, I decided to try to find a way down the north face. Doing so, I quickly realized that the face was substantially steeper and more rugged than the rugged face I’d already come up. Weaving back and forth on narrow, exposed ledges, downclimbing several loose faces and clefts, I turned a corner and heard a rustle. Ten feet away, a startled bighorn sheep, resting on a ledge, looked around befuddled for a moment before noticing that I was the source of the intrusive sound he had heard. With that, he dashed off.

Continuing on, stepping across the sheep’s bed, I soon found a steep chimney that dropped 40 feet to easier terrain below. Steepening to 5.6 or so near the bottom with loose rock, I was careful not to pop off to the sloping, gravely ground below. Lowering myself to safety, I hiked out, rather pleased that the Fortress had exceeded my expectations. A nice desert peak!