Lela Benchmark and Malapai Hill

Joshua Tree National Park, CA


Distance6.2 mi
Elevation gain1,600 ft
Route typeOut & back
Duration2.5 h
CruxClass 2

Peaks bagged

Lela Benchmark(Zdon)4,720 ft / Prom. 560 ft

Malapai Hill(LPC)4,280 ft / Prom. 360 ft

Zdon — Andy Zdon's Desert SummitsLPC — Lower Peaks Committee


I parked along Geology Tour Road at a pullout between Lela Benchmark and Malapai Hill. With only a few hours of daylight left, I headed east toward Lela Benchmark.
Aiming for the gully on the right.
Start of the gully.
Looking back toward Malapai Hill.
Easy class 2.
The gully lets out at this plateau. Continue straight.
Lela Benchmark's summit ahead.
Climbing to the saddle on the left.
Looking back.
On the ridge, final 100-ish vertical feet to the summit.
Looking back.
Lela Benchmark summit. View north.
Heading down the west ridge.
At a small saddle, dropping into a gully on the right.
Looking back toward Lela Benchmark.
The gully gets significantly steeper and rockier.
Looking back up a class 2 section.
I made some unnecessary but fun class 3 moves.
My route passed through this natural rock window.
Spotted this large desert tarantula crawling on top of large boulder.
Nearing the exit of the gully.
Final look back up the gully.
Following a sandy wash.
Headed back to the car.
After a quick rest stop, I continued on the west side of Geology Tour Road toward Malapai Hill, seen beyond the outcrop on the right.
Arriving at the base of Malapai Hill.
Climbing up a band of stable talus.
Looking across the valley toward Lela Benchmark.
Malapai Hill summit. View north.
View southwest.
Descending off Malapai Hill's gentler north slope.
Final look back at Malapai Hill.

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