Nevada Wander

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Wandering lost around Nevada.

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Tom and I have ventured down this way together several times. It's always fun, and this time I was really in need of a break. Thanks for the invite and push to get going, Tom!

This is Middle Stack Mountain, just south of Jackpot. Last fall we were here in November and climbed it in dry grass. No snow, although there should have been some.

Now in April when it should be dry, things were looking a little (too) white.

Trailhead

Saturday 4.1

So keep on truckin' south. We made an abbreviated attempt on a peak near Ely, but the road was muddy and we opted not to spend the day trying to get unstuck.

So down past Ely a ways, then we went after this one, Gap Mountain. Tom had all sorts of maps for the peaks he had studied. That work and the GPS got us to our parking spot.

Snake River

Thinking of my wife the botanist.

And also how painful it might be to stumble onto one of these thingys.

Approach

All sorts of cliffs made it interesting, in theory. But the route finding was really quite straightforward.

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The summit is a low rocky outcrop with nice views.

We soaked in the sun on top as we tried to name peaks. Well, Tom did. I had no idea about where we were. But was interested in the ridge you see behind Tom here, where we expected to climb a couple more highpoints.

Then it was time to head down.

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Camp. Stunning silence when the highway two miles distant was devoid of semis.

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Sunday 4.2

We were up pretty early, at least by Pacific time standards. On our feet by 7. Gorgeous lighting.

And not entirely sure where the highpoint was.

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Well, now that we can orient ourselves, apparently this is not the highpoint. It's that thingy over there.

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Hmmm. Impenetrable cliffs.

Tom, trying to act confident, does his best Gene Kelly impression. Not much rain to sing in, though.

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We climbed up high on the ridge, then circled clockwise to find what is probably the only Class 3 access. Sorry, it's the shady side. Approach
Summit. Fun peaks make for big smiles. Approach

Looking over at Gap Mountain.

From there, we took a slightly different route back to the rig, packed up camp, and moved slightly south for our next peak.

Approach

This peak was a list padder. Class 2. It didn't take long.

But it did provide an excellent view of where we had been.

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And a preview of where we were headed. Tom alleged that Burnt Peak really stood out, and that it was in the cluster of peaks on the right (it is, but we couldn't pick it out). Approach

The approach to this peak took some work. There was a very nice gravel road off the highway, but it did not match the map or the GPS. Improvements!

So we drove back and forth looking for the 'right' road. Then we settled on one going somewhere else, and connected that to a different road. Anyway, we eventually got to a reasonable spot to start. Steep peak!

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Steep, and loads of loose talus. Approach

This peak had really great views. We hung out on top for quite a while, dreading leaving almost as much as we dreaded the talus descent.

But before we leave, there are two highpoints on the right side of the photo that we will get to before the afternoon is out.

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Another view of Burnt. It really does stick out!

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Then ensued another round of navigational comedy, although this time we were much closer so only had one or two false starts to get to a trailhead of sorts.
And again, once on the mountain it was hard to determine exactly where the highpoint was. When we got there, we found that Lists of John had got it wrong; the true summit was a couple hundred yards off and 10' higher.

Approach

And our last peak of the day, on the left here, didn't even require packs.

 

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Then more dirt roads, easy to navigate this time. But before we picked out a camp spot, we visited Coyote Springs and created the plan for tomorrow's climbs.

There's one of them, right above the blue tent. But we were tired, so we let that wait til tomorrow.

Approach

Monday 4.3

This peak is sort of behind the photographer in the previous picture. Note the lack of sun- it was early again. Cold, too (low 40s?).

Approach
But the sun was up before we had made it very far up the ridge. Approach

Once again, we weren't sure where the summit was until we had made the top.

If you're wondering, my GPS only has 100k maps for Nevada, so the contour lines are 100' apart. Only somewhat helpful.

But that point over there looks higher..... (we checked- it wasn't).

Approach

Back at camp, we packed up and moved to the main road, from which we started our second peak. Note the change in the weather.

We went up the middle of the peak, which provided lots of zig-zagging back and forth to follow ramps through the low cliffs and bluffs. Class 2.

Approach

Tom hitting the summit ridge.

Now the wind was up, and those clouds are looking too smoothed out.

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We drove back toward the pavement we had left the day before, then followed a spur road up to this saddle to climb the rounded peak in the center.

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All sorts of cool rocks on the peak, and especially the approach. And the top seemed to be a bird roost, earning it my nickname of Bird Poop Peak.

We had another peak in mind, which sat about three miles north. But during the drive over we saw the day's first lightning bolt. So we stopped to see if the weather was going to blow through. It didn't take long for us to solve the philosophical riddle about how long you have to wait after the last strike to decide it was safe... we decided to head south and hope for better.

As it turned out, the wind just kept getting stronger, so we found a motel room in Alamo for the night.

Approach

Tuesday 4.4

The next morning looked much better, so we opted to reverse our tracks back north a bit and go for Irish, a 2PK. The summit, slightly farther away than the forested bump, is on the right.

On the way, we visited the petroglyph area. Very cool.

Approach

This one reminded me of Invisible in the Lost Rivers; right from your car door it is steep talus through brush.

But the cliff band above looks very interesting.

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A closer view of the cliff band. The TR we read seemed to make a big deal out of this. Approach
We found the cliff to be very straightforward, and also very photogenic. Approach
After you surmount the cliff, the steepness moderates, the brush opens up, and you get your first view of the summit installation. Yes, it's big. And it was all placed by helo. Approach
Closer view, with a bit of a kicker right at the end. Approach
Nice day, but the wind was blowing. We found a sunny spot on the lee side. Time for lunch. Approach

I forgot to mention that there was a little snow on the north-facing hillsides.

Somewhere about here we got our confirmation that we had been looking into Nellis AFB when a pair of fighters screamed overhead creating a body-shocking sonic boom. About crapped my pants.

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Getting ready to pass through the cliff band again. Approach
We descended the same slot that we had climbed, but we did see other possibilities. Approach

From our parking spot for Irish, we could see this highpoint on the left. We were too close to pass it up.

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As it turned out, this wasn't as easy as it had looked. Steep hillsides, a hidden saddle, and fairly thick brush. The brush here is stiff and unyielding; try to force your way through and it will make you pay. Approach

It was well after noon when we hit the pavement, so we weren't too sure what more we would get done today. That thought put us in tourist mode, so we stopped to photograph some Joshua trees and other silliness.

So when we came around the corner and realized we were looking at out next objective (the four peaks here), we were excited.

Approach

We drove up a well-graded, single-lane road that eventually deteriorated into a 4WD way that led to this saddle. We set up camp, then after some discussion about possible routes, went after this butte-like peak.

Approach
The chute just right of center looked like it might be possible. But it was hard to tell how steep it was, and there appeared to be a modest cliff at the top, maybe 20'? Would it allow us to climb it? Approach

Tom works up the ramp.

Desert peaks are tricky- it's hard to get perspective. So it was with glee and relief to find that our modest cliff was all of about 4' high.

It was a big butte, so of course we had to walk all the way to the other side to tag the top.

Then on our return followed some humorous exploration for the cairn with which we had marked the chute.

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Camp.

It had been a big day, so we saved the peak you see in the background for the next day. Should be some fun scrambling?

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Wednesday 4.5

This was an absolutely wonderful campsite. Gorgeous lighting on the rocks. Wonderful views in both directions.

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Tight tent placement, but the crowding junipers and rig gave us some wind break. Approach

We were up before the sun the next morning, heading northwesterly through the saddle. The little pip in the background is Black Top.

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With a little more light, you can see where it gets its name. Approach

The map and GPS seemed to show a flattish ridge and gentle ascent. What they didn't show was the 150'-deep gully.

Not to worry, it was a momentary obstruction.

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Tom nearing the summit in bright sunshine. Approach
We looped out from Black Top, heading for the peak behind our camp, below. Approach

Once again, we thought we could see a route. But weren't sure it would go. Tom had some confidence, so he took the lead.

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We worked up the left shoulder, hoping the left-ridge approach to the right-ridge summit wouldn't get too technical. Approach
Call it luck or experience, our route had some fun scrambling and allowed us access. Approach

Sunny summit.

I had just told Tom a story about getting stuck on Williams Peak in the Sawtooths, which had Tom imagining bad things as I led us down a different side of the mountain, shooting for a shortcut back to the rig.

Approach

Back at camp, we packed up and headed around our first butte to try to climb the fourth peak in this big desert cirque. The photo at right was taken off the butte during last evening's climb. From this photo, I had selected the right-hand ridge. With hope that we could find a way across the notch at the top.

Approach
When we got to our parking spot (click for a bigger version of the photo, where you should be able to find the rig in the center of the photo), that notch appeared to be blocked by a wall. So instead, we went up the left ridge. Again, hoping to find a way through. Approach

The way through was actually pretty easy. Again, desert foreshortening made something look much bigger than it really was.

Back to the car, back to the highway, and heading for The Wall.

Approach

The Wall is on the Scenic Byway to Lunar Crater. So we first visited the crater. Then we decided we needed an overview of this area to try to sort out what we were seeing versus what the maps said. Our remedy: North Kidney Butte.

Approach
As hoped, the butte gave us great views of the area. This is looking sort of south. Approach

And to the northeast, The Wall. Except we thought the Wall was the mesa in the center. It's actually the butte on the left.

But it's also all the structure you see here, plus more. So the map, which had "The Wall" written in several places, was confusing.

Approach
  • Not a peak
Because our understanding of "The Wall" was off, and Tom really wanted to climb the wall, I went up this thing while Tom took a break to rest up for The Wall.
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But when I got on top, and where I expected to be on a highpoint, there was this other thing over there that was obviously higher. I hate it when the map is wrong. Except it wasn't- our assumptions were.

So I headed back down. Tom and I finally figured out where we were, drove around to look at The Wall, and decided that after five peaks, today was not the day. Tomorrow didn't look so good either, because we were having a problem finding a reasonable camp spot.

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As we were looking for a camp spot, we drove to the foot of the ridge of this peak.

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After my Not a Peak experience, my legs were feeling pretty heavy. So Tom led us up our fifth for the day. Approach

I loved the view from this peak. It has a little of everything. Including cell service. From here, Tom got the weather prediction for 40mph winds..... hotel room, anyone?

So we blasted off for Tonopah and hot showers.

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Thursday 4.6

Valley sleet and significant snowfall in the mountains. A fella's got to know when to call it quits. So we got up early and headed for home. But it was only 8:30 when we were approaching Austin, the sun was out, and the wind hadn't yet got to full strength.

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From the summit, you can see the moisture moving in, as well as the wind clouds. We got rained on pretty good as we got near home.

What a great week! Thanks for all the fun, Tom.

Tom's trip report.

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