|Mt Tipton from the locked gate: Click the map, or see the trailhead page for waypoints.|
Mt Tipton starts with an obscure but simple drive (see the Tipton trailhead page for details and a map). We drove beyond a somewhat obvious trailhead parking area (waypoint TIP2WD, which passenger cars might be able to reach) to a gate that wasn't there when the DPS guide was written. From that locked gate (waypoint TPTNTH) we walked up the old road until it reached Lower Indian Springs (waypoint INDSPR), where it sort of vanishes. We crossed the wash, climbing on a rib until we picked up the old road east of some washouts. We followed it to the former 4WD trailhead (waypoint OLD4WD) at the small saddle above Point 4288.
Finally, it felt like climbing. Going more east than south, we angled uphill to enter the wash described in the DPS guide. It's indistinct in places, has both uphill and downhill branches, and can be somewhat brushy. After going up and down, we decided the best place to enter the wash is around waypoint TIPWSH. A nice scramble around boulders and into a thin forest leaves you with only a few choices. At 4600' (waypoint TIPXC1) we angled right (south) into a smaller gully, which becomes indistinct above 5000', and climbed to the saddle east of Point 5534 (TIPXC2).
From that saddle, it's tempting to go straight up to the ridge, but the brush is better if you head south and approach waypoint TIPXC3 from the northwest. We didn't stay exactly on the ridge, finding less brush in the transition zone between the ridge and the shallow valley to the south. There's a problem spot just below 6600' (waypoint TIPXC4) where you can traverse on the south or climb huge boulders on the north of the ridge, then it's clear pine forest sailing to the summit. Except when there's a foot of fresh snow with breakable crust! The snow was inconvenient above 6600, and really slowed us down for the last 200-300' of gain.
It was warm on top when we arrived, but a breeze came up and we only stayed half an hour. Tipton had not been climbed since John Hooper was there in Nov 2007 - perhaps because it has a reputation for bad brush, a reputation we thought was undeserved. Our round trip was about 7 hours, 7 miles, 3300' of gain.
Next stop: Spirit Mtn