Nevada 2020 Spring


Twelve Nevada (one in Arizona) peaks in a few short snowless February days.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Tom and I have been coming down to Nevada both Spring and Fall for a couple of years (including a couple peaks in southern California and Arizona). Here are some of our trips:

Day 1

Frenchman Mountain, 4052'

Northwest Frenchman, 3942'


Our first peak of the trip was Frenchman Mountain, which is visible from most of Las Vegas. We were climbing it from the saddle on the north, which has a parking area/trailhead right off the pavement. We're headed up that road, but I don't think you can see the summit from here.


That road was STEEP!

But walking on a road of any kind generally promotes quick travel.


From the top of the pass, you finally get to see Frenchman. More even steeper road. Trailhead

The actual summit is perhaps a few feet higher inside this enclosure. Good enough.


There is a slightly lower summit just to the south. Also fenced in.


Did I mention the mountain is right next to Las Vegas?


Time to head back toward the rig, but not until we also climbed North Frenchman, just to the left of the road we had walked to get here.


This peak had no road to the summit, so felt a little wilder.

And then it was back to the rig.


The Minefield, 2498'


After Frenchman, the parking lot for our next peak, The Minefield, was only about two miles away.

Once again we were walking on a road, but this one is in an area closed to motor vehicles. Unfortunately, the closure came a bit late so there was trash everywhere. Everywhere. Tom thinks all the trash, especially the broken glass, has something to do with the name. With glittering glass dominating every view, they should have named it Sparkles.

We were headed up there. We thought it was the left end of the ridge, but as we got higher found it was actually the right side. Trailhead

Great views from the summit, with Frenchman on the far left and our pave road going up the valley. More peaks to try on the right.


This peak had a fine collection of barrel cactus. There were so many, it reminded me of the tribbles on Star Trek.


Day 2

Lava Butte, 2871'


We had scoped out the road to Lava Butte yesterday, so we knew how to get there and where to park. Sort of.

The line of weakness, either the mountain or ours, was to gain the ridge off to the left.


As you get close to that ridgetop, here's what things look like. We were lucky enough to pick up sort of a game trail to get us onto the ridge proper.

Then, up the ridge.

Up and up and up. Trailhead

Pet Semetary

I went over and looked at it. You make up your own explanation.

Tom working the boulders near the summit.


Click and zoom to see Sin City.

A couple of sinners. Our combined summit age is 134.
Desert pictures should always show the sun cooking out the essential liquids of life.

White Eagle Peak, 2445'


After a long drive followed by a pleasant road-side lunch, we decided to go for White Eagle Peak. According to Tom, it's up there somewhere.

First, we had to fight our way through more tribbles.
Desert. Desert. Desert.
And then we were on the summit. Or is it over there?

Looking back at where we had just been.

After consulting both of our GPS units, the one I am on here is 1' taller than the one over there.

+/- GPS accuracy of 10 feet!

Regardless, the view of this morning's peak was outstanding.

For those of you not paying attention, that is Lava Butte, our morning's effort.

Rough Benchmark, 2248'


Then followed a series of long drives looking for a peak that met a tight set of parameters established by tired old guys. Finally, we settled on Rough Benchmark, or for short, Rough BM (old-guy humor).

But first we had to listen to some guy in a rented Ferrari over-revving the engine to impress... anyone? I was impressed, but I don't think in the way he had intended.

Thankfully, we were soon leaving the overcrowded overlook parking lot. Tom had a GPS track for us to follow, but it was really pretty straightforward: Go up to the only easy pass you can see that goes through the cliffs.
Scramble through the pass.
Head across or around the drainage to access the highpoint, which is by definition always the farthest point you can see.
A little more scrambling.
And finally, nearing the summit.

Summit, looking down on the freeway.

Note the distinct lack of beer in this photo.

Heading for the cold ones.

Almost to the car. Then a 10 minute drive back to the cold ones in our hotel fridge.

This 60° heat is killing me.

Day 3

The King, 3572'


Last night, NOAA said the POP for today was 90. Then this morning it was 70. Let's go. Except we need gas. And the first approach we tried, on a different peak, was gated. More rapid thumbing of the guidebook. And navigation.

So after all that, we finally found an acceptable starting point for The King. A little blue in the sky. Steep and loose. And now, jokes about Elvis. We have no shame.

Did I mention it was steep and loose?

"Thank you very much."

Did I mention it was steep and loose?

70% is looking pretty serious.

And now, moving quickly. Toward us.

Not too much farther now, and not nearly so steep.

There was supposed to be a wild sheep in this picture, but I didn't get the camera out fast enough.

Kinda pretty, although the clouds were getting thicker.
Across the way, there they are!
I think I feel a few sprinkles. Yes, that's the summit flag pole. And over there, where the mountain sheep were, is The Queen, which we had hoped to add to our loop.
But the weather had other ideas. On went the raingear. Warm, windy, and wet. And now, wet snaggly plants to negotiate on our alternate return route.

Brightly-colored barrel cactus.

We saw a few other desert flowers, but I was trying to keep the camera dry.

Our long creek bed ended in a pour-over. It didn't look too bad, but considering it was wet we opted to go around, which worked out fine.
I guess it has turned into a rest day.

Dam View Point, 2020' (year appropriate)

After sitting around watching it rain (and Michigan kicking Purdue's butt) we realized the weather was improving. Scramble for a quick afternoon peak to try. Short but sweet, Dam View fit the requirements. And here it is from our parking spot, on the horizon.

But dang- Dorothy, we're not in Nevada anymore!

Off to the east is the much more impressive Fortification Hill. Another day.
This climb starts out with a mellow approach with game trails and sparse vegetation.
Then gets down to business as you penetrate the ramparts.
Finally, the summit ridge. Note the bizarre black rocks. I have no explanation.

And here's where the name of our peak comes from. For size comparison of how big is Hoover Dam, note a tiny Tom on the extreme left.

Nice batthub ring, eh? It's been a few years since Lake Mead was full.

Summit shot.

Shameless promotion for

Flowies for Julie. Like you said, after the rain.....
More flowies.

I thought I smelled rain, so we made haste back to the car. It started about 5 minutes later.

Then this rainbow broke as we were headed back to Nevada.

Ah, the promised land.

No, you don't have to adjust your TV set. It IS a double rainbow.

Day 4

New Peak, 4987' (aka Calico Hills or El Hijo)

Kraft Mountain, 4714'

These two peaks are near the Red Rocks area on the west side of Las Vegas. That's part of Kraft Mountain on the right, and New Peak in the center. The route walks a trail up to the saddle between them.
There's the saddle. Sharp eyes may notice that there were quite a few people about. This is a very popular (too popular) area, and it was Sunday.
Most folks were just walking the trail, with little interest in peak bagging. So we had New Peak to ourselves. Other than the barking dogs, screaming teenagers (no, we don't know why), etc., of course.
I thought this was a simple hike. And after seeing the mountain, you can probably do it that way. But we opted to do some 4th class climbing on the limestone spine.

More of the spine in view, although judging by my bare hands the real climbing hasn't started. We packed leather gloves for this stuff, which at times is as sharp as razor blades.

Tom Lopez photo.

Tom now with gloves on, working some of the limestone.


Tom Lopez photo.

From the top, this is looking back across at Kraft Mountain. And Las Vegas.

It's getting close to 70°. Time to scramble down.

This is looking back at New Peak as we headed up Kraft Mountain.

I had climbed Kraft with my friend Stefan back in 2014. I sort of remembered it. One thing I remembered was tons of cairns, which today were no longer in evidence. So we just started scrambling.

The rock, like back then, is really cool.
No, I didn't belly-crawl through there. That would be undignified of a gentleman of my age and stature. er, uh, status?
A view from high on Kraft Mountain back to New Peak.
Tom on the summit, with Lost Wages in the background.

We went a different way on our return (of course!).

As we descended, we had fun looking at rock formations and micro-features like this one.

Lone Mountain, 3342'


After returning to the car, we started to drive farther around the Red Rocks loop until Tom realized that the line of cars forming ahead of us was going to wait for a turn that was still over a mile away. Executing a near-perfect u-turn, Tom soon had us heading for an urban peak he had climbed some years back. Siri to the rescue.

We were soon parked with a crowd of others and headed up Lone Mountain.

There were lots of people on this route. We marveled at how the limestone was polished by feet. Human feet.

Yes, that is a new freeway exchange behind Tom, with new housing developments of identical homes sprouting on both sides.

Made me think about how damn lucky I am.....

Summit was full of people. People flying drones, reading their iPads, and other urban pursuits.
What a view!

Our peak from the crowded parking lot.

I belittle this, but it's actually a really cool opportunity/amenity/experience for those living close by. I'm just glad I'm not one of them.

We stopped for a burger with the King (sadly, again, not Elvis) and then headed back across the city. For those with sharp eyes, that's Frenchman Mountain in mid-picture from Day 1 of our Nevada climbing spree.

Bootleg Mountain, 3619'


As we headed back toward Boulder City, we discussed what was next. Realizing there was a nearby peak in an area we hadn't visited this trip, we headed up Bootleg Canyon for Bootleg Mountain.

After a near-death experience on the dirt access road, I forgot to take a picture from our parking spot. So here's our peak after climbing most of the way.

Here's Tom nearing the summit.

For no apparent reason, the plastic pipe is being used as the summit register. Nevada has a shortage of a pad of paper and a jar?

Tom's view of me on top.

Tom Lopez photo

C'est finis. 12 peaks. Warm, sunny weather (well, it hit 70). Tons of fun for old fellers in February. Time to head home, amigos.

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