Forum Index > Trip Reports > 20 peaks in 6 days - Jan 2019
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Gimpilator
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PostFri Jan 18, 2019 2:00 pm 
January 9
Red Needle – 1957’

Matt came for a visit.  I picked him up at the airport, we hit the taqueria, and immediately drove to Red Needle.  I have scoped out this tower several times.  It’s a short drive from my house, but the rock on the upper tower is sketchy and I knew it would take a more experienced climber to lead it.  It has only been climbed a couple of times and the guidebook calls it an aid climb because they used a ladder to get past the overhang below the chimney.  My friend Tracy is the guy who brought the ladder on that trip.  I told him I was hoping to do it without a ladder and he was curious to hear how it worked out.


Matt led the lower mudstone class 3 and 4 ledges on eastern side with ease, but when he reached the base of the northern chimney, he called down that it was tricky and the upper conglomerate was just as rotten as it looks.  He found a chockstone and I suggested slinging it.  Without the chockstone the route might be too committing, because it’s a very narrow loose chimney with an overhang below it and no good footing at that transition.  When it was my turn, I struggled badly and I was impressed with Matt’s leading ability.


The upper portion of the tower is split down the middle and the chimney has a sort of passage way between the two towers.  Going through that to the south side of the tower, you turn right into an awful rotten gully, open at the bottom to mid-air.  This gully puts you within a few feet of the summit, but requires care because a lot of material is ready to move or just peel off the walls.


When I got to the top, we took a closer inspection of the existing sling anchor.  It was an old section of climbing rope with a 6 inch gap where the sheath was completely gone.  Four or five narrow white sections of core did not inspire our confidence.  Had someone cut off a portion of their rope to get down this tower?  We were able to tie-off the broken section, and tested it before rappelling, but whoever climbs this next ought to bring some new webbing along, at least 20’.


Pinnacle - 2000’

After 2 rappels (Matt only one), there was some daylight left, so I showed Matt the scramble route up Pinnacle, which I had done once previously.


1-10
Mine View Peak – 2132’

The route we planned for the day included 6 peaks as well as Anniversary Narrows and Bowl of Fire.  To avoid the private property issue, we hiked to the narrows indirectly which took us past little Mine View Peak.  It’s not very big, but does have nice views and an interesting upper ridge.


Anniversary Narrows

For years, I have heard that Anniversary is one of the best non-technical slots in Nevada.  It was exciting to finally see it.  Even before we got to the canyon, we passed through colorful layers of rock and stone and also found abundant large chunks of some kind of crystal.


It would have been smart for me to read the guidebook again before launching this route, because I totally missed the turnoff for Endless Peak and Capuchin Peak at the very mouth of the narrows.  I remember looking at the steep ramp and wondering if that was the way or if there might be something better as the map indicated.


Once we were in the narrows, several potholes held stinging cold water from recent rain.  Matt managed to stem past a few of them, but I waded all with boots off.  Once I realized that I missed the access for Endless and Capuchin, I was unwilling to backtrack through the frigid potholes.


Anniversary Narrows Peak – 3074’

Beyond the narrows we went through a system of washes to where we could easily gain a saddle north of our next peak.  Matt found fossils below the saddle.  We came into the sunlight and were flabbergasted by the panorama below us.  The Bowl of Fire was larger than I imagined and just begging for exploration.

Endless
Endless

We ascended the north ridge of ANP and went down the south slope.

Southgate
Southgate
Virgin
Virgin
Northshore
Northshore
Endless
Endless
down
down

Polytick Peak – 2661’

From the flats between ANP and Polytick we went to a saddle on the northeast ridge and then up the ridge past a huge monolithic boulder.  The finish is a steep gully scramble on the north face between rock formations.  Not many ascents on this peak, about once a year.

Polytick
Polytick
Polytick
Polytick

Red Cap Peak – 2340’

Between Polytick and Red Cap, we passed through some amazing sandstone layers of varying color.  Murphys Peak rose above it all and was very impressive.  Up the southwest ridge, and then brief class 3 at the top.

Murphys looking sexy
Murphys looking sexy
Murphys
Murphys
Red Cap summit
Red Cap summit
Murphys and Polytick
Murphys and Polytick
Polytick
Polytick
Peak 2474
Peak 2474

Peak 2474’

Red Cap’s close neighbor is higher and more prominent.  We followed the sharp southwest ridge and saw numerous messy sheep beds along the way, loaded with stinking wet sand and excrement.

4 ascents in 10 years
4 ascents in 10 years

Murphys Peak – 2697’

We dropped down a steep loose chute between Red Cap and Peak 2474 to reach the wash leading toward Murphys.  We went up to the saddle southeast of the peak and then scrambled steep limestone cracks and ledges to the summit.

ANP
ANP
Polytick
Polytick
Muddy, Southgate, Northgate
Muddy, Southgate, Northgate

This might be the best spot to view the entire Bowl of Fire.  I can understand why some local peakbaggers have done this peak more than once.  It’s worth the view.  We descended the south side of the peak back to the car.

Murphys
Murphys

All said and done, we agreed that this loop is the most beautiful and scenic trip either of us have done in the northshore area, if not the desert in general.  I am very privileged to live a half hour away from this unspoiled area.

1-11
Boundary Cone – 3430’

Boundary Cone is a dark, imposing, bulky tower of a mountain on the east side of the river, near Oatman.  On the drive in, I didn’t pull over to capture it’s most impressive stature, but it’s unmistakable.  A non-technical ascent seems improbable, but there is a class 3 route, if you can find it.


We walked the steep old mining road to the base of the west ridge and then followed a use trail around the left side.  There was a short scramble step and then we came to a minor saddle in the ridge.  Higher up we passed through a notch and crossed a bowl that was hemmed in by a headwall.

white dryfall
white dryfall

After we explored the exposed south face bypass, Matt decided to climb directly up the cliffs and I backtracked a bit to look for an easier way.  The white dryfall didn’t work, but further left I found some easy ledges leading indirectly up to a gap with a big chockstone.  I was able to stem up past the chockstone without any serious exposure.

Matt climbing
Matt climbing

The rest of the route went easily, ending on the north side.  This is a certainly cool peak, but it felt a little lackluster after the dazzling scenery and terrain of the previous day.

Peak 3318
Peak 3318
Peerless and Peak 3380
Peerless and Peak 3380

Negrohead – 3024’

I wanted to do this little peak because it is officially named on the map, but what a weird name.  We drove through Oatman.  The streets were full of tourists standing around feeding scores of donkeys, and donkey droppings were everywhere.  It was a practice in patience, waiting for tourists to move out of the middle of the road.

Negrohead
Negrohead

For an easy little peak, there are some basalt cliffs ringing the summit area.  It’s necessary to traverse to the south ridge to get up through the cliffs.

Hardy
Hardy
Oatman Benchmark
Oatman Benchmark
tower 4942
tower 4942
Battleship which I did with Josh in 2018
Battleship which I did with Josh in 2018
Boundary Cone in the distance
Boundary Cone in the distance

1-12
House Mountain – 4463’

The forecast was calling for a chance of rain, so we scrapped our climbing plans and took a day to explore an area I have been intrigued with.  The map calls the very rugged group of peaks in the Oatman area part of the Black Mountains.  Last year I did some tough peaks with Josh in this area and noticed an abundance of very precipitous mountains and overall complex terrain.  Further research revealed nothing.  It seems to be an area completely overlooked by the regular die hard desert peakbaggers.

Nutt Benchmark
Nutt Benchmark
Peak 4406
Peak 4406
Peak 4205
Peak 4205
Union Benchmark and cane Benchmark
Union Benchmark and cane Benchmark

We started with one of the higher peaks, which appeared on the map to have one single easy way to the top.  We followed a series of washes coming in from the west and then climbed a steep slope to reach the upper west ridge.


This upper ridge was just as nice as it looked on the map and the entire route was class 2.  We enjoyed incredible summit views in the early morning sun.  On the way down, we got curious about some prominent craggy peaklets, so we went to see if they had any reasonable way to the top.

Peak 4205
Peak 4205
Nutt
Nutt
Peak 3833
Peak 3833
House
House

Peak 3980’

South side class 2 gully with minor class 3 at the top and two points of nearly equal height.  Summit cairn, but no previous register.

House
House
Peak 4028
Peak 4028
Peak 3955
Peak 3955

Peak 3955’

Now that we had seen every side of this crag, it still seemed like a long shot.  I was wary of a failed attempt because we didn’t bring the rope.  But as I circled around the west and then north side, I found a hidden gully right where I needed it.  This gully went very near the top and I scrambled the rest of the way.  No summit cairn and no evidence of previous ascents.

Peak3980 and House
Peak3980 and House
tower 4942
tower 4942

Matt showed up a few minutes later after his chosen route ended on the northwest ridge.  I showed him the cairn I had just built.  Damn near every peak in the desert has a cairn at the very least, if nothing else.  The way I see it, this is likely to be a first ascent, one of only a couple obscure peaks I have found in the desert with no evidence of other people.


Bob Burd told me there are no first ascents left anywhere in the region, but I don’t believe that.

El Castillo – 4097’

It was looking like it was going to rain sooner than later.  I was hoping to have enough time for one more.  Matt waited this one out.  Near where we camped, I had scouted a ramp above cliffs that goes very near the top of this peak, but there was no telling if it would work at the end.  Fortunately it did, but it was very brushy.  I spooked a couple wild burrows on the way up.

El Castillo
El Castillo
Kor's Castle
Kor's Castle

At the top of the ramp I had to zigzag through more cliffs.  An old register on top revealed the local name of the peak.


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Gimpilator
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Joined: 12 Oct 2006
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Location: Edmonds, WA
Gimpilator
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PostFri Jan 18, 2019 2:01 pm 
1-13
Carsons Benchmark – 3760’

We had a single day between big rainstorms.  We decided to go for one of the more coveted peaks on our list, Kelbaholt.  Since it had rained heavily during the night, we would do Carsons first and let the rocks on Kelbaholt dry out a bit.

northern sub peaks of Kelbaholt
northern sub peaks of Kelbaholt
Lost Arch Mine Peak
Lost Arch Mine Peak
Kelbaholt
Kelbaholt

Kelbaholt is like a Johannesburg of the desert, steep and cliffy on all sides.  No recorded ascents in 24 years.  An ancient trip report in the DPS archives alludes to a route on the east face, but doesn’t elaborate any further.  As we hiked past the peak on the way to Carsons, I was looking for a route and trying not to get overly intimidated.

Peak 3323
Peak 3323
Kelbaholt
Kelbaholt

We walked a long distance, 5 or 6 miles through valleys between mind bending towers.  Certainly, with the poor rock quality, many of these have never been climbed.


We scrambled up a crappy loose gully to the saddle west of the peak and followed the ridge to the summit.  I found remnants of an old register and shreds of plastic baggy, but it was mostly ruined without a container.

Kelbaholt group
Kelbaholt group
Turtle
Turtle
Kelbaholt
Kelbaholt
Peak 3585
Peak 3585
Peak 4245
Peak 4245
Turtle
Turtle
Old Woman range
Old Woman range

Kelbaholt Peak - 3680’ (Attempt)

We back-tracked to where we had left some gear and then started up the northeast ridge.  The scrambling was easier than it looked, but very exposed below some of the ledges.  The rock quality wasn’t completely trustworthy.  We continued up through chimneys and gullies and ledges with the occasional steep loose mini-slopes.

Kelbaholt
Kelbaholt
Carsons
Carsons
came up this
came up this

It was now very late in the day.  Consulting our phones there was only 1.5 hours of daylight remaining.  We were within 200 vertical of the summit, but the difficulty was unrelenting and the remaining distance on the north ridge appeared to be very slow and probably class 4.  We quickly agreed to bail and get the hell off the peak before dark.  This is not a route for the dark.  If only it wasn’t for the damned rain, we could have allowed more time for this peak.

summit left of center from turn around point
summit left of center from turn around point
going down
going down

We were careful to descend exactly as we had come up, but it was still confusing in a few places.  It was frustrating because I felt that we had done very well to crack the long-standing mystery of this peak, but I felt good about our decision, regardless of that.  While walking the road back to camp, something wasn’t right.  The sun was still shining.  It should have been dark.  I had a horrible realization.  Both of our phones had connected to the network 30 miles to the east in Arizona and had changed the time without any notification.  We actually did have the extra hour we needed and could have finished the peak.

Carsons
Carsons
Kelbaholt
Kelbaholt

Matt took the news better than I did.  I needed more time to let go an accept.  I didn’t mention it, but I was considering trying it again early the next morning, before the rain started.  Ultimately I decided that was a dumb idea.

1-14
Peak 2483’

The next morning I got up in the dark to cultivate some consolation prizes, leaving Matt to sleep-in.  I wanted to get a closer view of Mexican Hat and try out a few obscure peaks in the process.  I started with Peak 2483.

Mexican Hat
Mexican Hat
and profile
and profile

After some bumbling, I found the old developed Mohawk Spring trail and took that to an open bowl south of the peak.  The southwest slopes are the easiest way up.  Early morning light and moody clouds improved the summit views.  The Kelbaholt group looks especially gnarly from the north side.

Lost Arch, Kelbaholt, Mexican Hat
Lost Arch, Kelbaholt, Mexican Hat

“Lost Arch Mine Peak” – 2739’

This one was unlikely to go nicely, but my best bet judging from the map was the southwest side.  I traversed along the northeast base of Mexican Hat, noting a possible chimney along the way, with overhanging chockstones, that might work for climbers more bold than Matt or I.  It would at least put you on the upper terrace, but it’s very risky and unprotectable.


I crossed the saddle and went up a steep slope, coming to the base of cliffs.  I scrambled a short step carefully avoiding a barrel cactus and then followed ledges north.  Some more short scramble steps and I was on top.  I found what seemed like an old cairn, but no register.  Bummer because I was fresh out of registers.

Peak 2483
Peak 2483
Mexican Hat
Mexican Hat
Kelbaholt
Kelbaholt
up this way
up this way
came up this
came up this
almost there
almost there
summit
summit
Kelbaholt
Kelbaholt
looking back
looking back

I hurried back down to camp so we could get out of the Turtle range before the rain started again.

the peak viewed from camp
the peak viewed from camp

Snaggletooth – 2190’

Our driving route took us past a rock feature which I have wanted to climb for a number of years.  It wasn't raining yet so we stopped.  There’s supposedly a class 4 route if you circle around, but we didn’t look very hard because the prow on the southwest side looked ok.

Umpah and Mopah
Umpah and Mopah
Carsons and Kelbaholt
Carsons and Kelbaholt
lower north crag
lower north crag

Matt placed one cam and then came to the airy narrow ledge with an overhang.  It’s easiest to crouch and scoot here.  There’s loose rock at the top of the route that requires some care.  I was happy to get a belay and incredulous to learn later that some people have climbed this route without rope.  We rappelled down the east side.


1-16
Coyote Skull Peak – 2720’

After waiting out a full day of rain, Matt had one day left to bag some peaks.  The weather has been most unusual lately and it was forecasted to rain everywhere except the general Vegas area.  We scrapped most of our climbing itinerary and it will be saved for next time.

At the start of the trip  Matt said he hoped to get 10 peaks, but if this last day worked out, he could go home with 20.   hockeygrin.gif   It would also be funny to do Coyote Skull and Dog Skull in the same day, since they are on opposite sides of the valley.

Coyote skull
Coyote skull

We started with Coyote Skull from the east.

Sunrise
Sunrise
next 3 peaks
next 3 peaks
Unity with Hanging-Valley and Knife Edge behind
Unity with Hanging-Valley and Knife Edge behind

The Triple – 2568’

Then we crossed some washes and went around the north side of The Triple and then up the east ridge.

The Triple
The Triple
Frenchman group, Division, Unity, Coyote Skull
Frenchman group, Division, Unity, Coyote Skull
Lake Mead
Lake Mead
The Double
The Double
Mineview
Mineview
Frenchman
Frenchman
Sunrise
Sunrise

The Double – 2560’

Then up the west side of The Double and down the south face.

The Double
The Double

Mineview Peak – 2498’

Followed more washes to the north face of Mineview.  Brief class 3 through a cliff band.

Mineview
Mineview

Dog Skull Peak – 4024’

We drove to the west side of Dog Skull, tempted to stop at a taqueria, but didn’t take the time.  Walked the old road and then some rock hopping before the top.  It’s questionable if the register in the rock outcropping is the true highpoint.  Might actually be the flatter dome to the east.  Do both.

North Twin
North Twin

North Twin – 3957’

Traversed connecting ridge south.

Dog Skull
Dog Skull

South Twin – 3920’

Detoured eastward to avoid the long steep north face and then ran the mile long plateau of this peak.  Matt spotted 3 bighorns near the summit which was a nice reward for his last peak of a great trip.

Dog Skull and North Twin
Dog Skull and North Twin
out this wash
out this wash

Gotta say thanks Matt for being an excellent climbing partner and good friend all these years.  Already looking forward to next time.  smile.gif

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Fletcher
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Fletcher
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PostFri Jan 18, 2019 5:30 pm 
Some of the best looking scenery from any of your desert TRs. Wish I could have been there!

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Sculpin
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Sculpin
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PostSat Jan 19, 2019 8:32 am 
The Turtles!

"Mind-bending towers" indeed.  Did you camp at the little BLM campground where the Mohawk Springs trail starts?

I am a little confused on where the Turtles start and end in your TR, since I don't remember the peak names.  I probably would have been lying awake all night during a rainstorm worrying about whether I could get back across Chemehuevi Wash.

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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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belowfellow
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PostSat Jan 19, 2019 10:51 pm 
Couldn't have told the tale better myself. Great trip all around. I am hooked on the Mojave. Thanks for everything Adam!

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"Wilderness is bliss"
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John Morrow
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PostSun Jan 20, 2019 5:39 pm 
Sculpin wrote:
"Mind-bending towers" indeed.  Did you camp at the little BLM campground where the Mohawk Springs trail starts?

I think that is where they started.  Very craggy up there compared to west of Mopah, and I've really only seen it from the road.

belowfellow wrote:
Great trip all around. I am hooked on the Mojave. Thanks for everything Adam!

Yeah, I get it!

Thanks for the great beta you two.
John

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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”-Mary Oliver

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
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Eric Hansen
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PostMon Jan 21, 2019 6:50 pm 
Twenty years ago I worked up through Anniversary Narrows and slept in the upper end where it opens up. In the morning I moved east. Bowl of Fire was stunning from that angle, from above.

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