Aqua Benchmark, Spectre Peak, and Dyadic Point Loop

Joshua Tree National Park, CA


Distance14.4 mi
Elevation gain4,100 ft
Route typeLoop
Duration6.5 h
CruxClass 5

Peaks bagged

Aqua Benchmark(Zdon)4,419 ft / Prom. 252 ft

Dyadic Point(Zdon)4,360 ft / Prom. 177 ft

Spectre Peak(DPS, Zdon)4,482 ft / Prom. 2,546 ft

Zdon — Andy Zdon's Desert SummitsDPS — Desert Peaks Section


From the trailhead, following an old dirt road into the open desert.
Wooden posts at the history boundary of Joshua Tree National Monument before it became a national park in 1994.
Dropping into the wash on the left.
Starting up a class 2 chute.
Aiming for the right of the two notches.
Class 3 obstacle.
At the notch, looking back.
Aqua Benchmark ahead.
Sporadic pinyon pines can be found nestled inside the shady canyons.
Starting up Aqua Benchmark's north slope.
View back on the ascent of Aqua Benchmark.
Summit ahead.
Aqua Benchmark summit. View toward Dyadic Point.
Descending Aqua Benchmark's north slope toward Spectre Peak, ahead.
Arriving at a wash below Spectre Peak.
Class 3 slabs.
Spectre Peak summit. View northeast toward Aqua Benchmark (left) and Dyadic Point (right). My descent wash is visible left of center.
View east toward Dyadic Point and the southern reaches of the Coxcomb Range.
View south toward Pinto Basin.
Descending Spectre Peak's east slope toward Dyadic Point.
Looking back at my descent route.
Starting the climb to Dyadic Point.
Fun Class 3 section.
Class 4 downclimb.
Looking back at the downclimb (left). The route continues past the tree on the right.
Large choke stone, surmounted via an awkward spanning move.
From a closed contour erroneously marked as "Dyadic Point" on the topo, view of remaining ridgeline to the obviously higher Dyadic Point.
Short ramp used to bypass an intervening peaklet.
At the bottom of the ramp, turning right up this small chute.
View through a notch to the base of Dyadic Point.
One option to gain the summit is this Class 5 lieback on choosy rock. There's an airy jump to a small platform at the top. I was uncomfortable committing to this move, so I downclimbed and searched for another option.
A second, friendlier option is this narrow Class 4/5 chimney. I was forced to ditch my gear in order to fit inside, so the next several photos were taken with my phone.
Above the chimney, continuing up the Class 3 slabs ahead. The dead tree on the left was a hindrance; it seemed frail so it wouldn't be a good idea to use one of it's branches as an aid.
On the ridge crest, I friction-climbed the slabs right of center to avoid the exposure to the left.
Crossing over to the south side of the ridge, I found this 1-foot wide ledge. It can be bypassed by dropping down to some exposed Class 3 terrain on the right.
Looking back across the ledge. You can see the exposure on the left. After this, it's straightforward Class 2 to the summit.
Dyadic Point summit. View northwest toward Aqua Benchmark.
View south.
To avoid downclimbing the friction slabs, I returned via the north side of the ridge. This is the view looking back.
An exposed leap used to rejoin my ascent route. This move looks dicey in the reverse direction, as shown here.
After retrieving by backpack, I returned to the saddle between Spectre Peak and Dyadic Point.
Turning right down this drainage to the saddle below all three peaks.
Looking back up the drainage.
From the saddle, starting down a northeasternly wash that serves as the standard DPS route to Spectre Peak.
Some tedious, bouldery terrain.
Looking back.
Another look back up the wash.
At the terminus of the wash, facing southeast.
I turned left and headed northwest toward a saddle.
Class 2 to the saddle.
Looking back from the saddle. A vague use trail appears.
Descending another major drainage.
Some standing water in a possible mortero left by an indigenous person.
Class 2 boulder hopping.
Following the old road back to the car.
Final look back at the Coxcomb Mountains.

Nearby trips

Pinto Mountain
Pinto Mountain
8.4 mi2,700 ft4 hr