Forum Index > Trip Reports > Shadows in the Valley of Death - January 1-6, 2015
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Gimpilator
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Location: Edmonds, WA
Gimpilator
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PostThu Jan 08, 2015 8:36 pm 
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January 1

When I pulled up to the west side of Eagle Peak after driving for 4 hours through the dark, Heather looked at the peak and said, "Is that technical?".  I had to admit, it looked pretty steep.  Our car was packed for 6 days worth of peaks, dunes, and canyon exploration.  We had a list of objectives far longer than we could possibly finish.  But we would do as much as we could.

Eagle Peak
Eagle Peak
the Amargosa River frozen
the Amargosa River frozen
exposed crux
exposed crux
Eagle summit block
Eagle summit block

We crossed the Amargosa River, which was frozen.  We had heard that often it is bone dry.   When we reached the face, there appeared to be three main gullies, however the right hand one was too steep to consider.  After studying our beta we agreed to follow the left hand gulley which was marked with cairns.  Several sections required easy scrambling.  The route follows the left side and comes onto open slopes near the top of the ridge.  We came to a notch and then followed some ledges on the east face.  We then crossed back over to the west face and came to what appeared to be the summit block.  The scrambling here was steep.  On the crest of the ridge, one spot was 10 inches wide and exposed.  Then we were on the summit.  Wow!  What a way to start the new year.  smile.gif

some famous peakbaggers
some famous peakbaggers
Charleston visible
Charleston visible

In the afternoon we drove to Beatty Nevada and hiked up the peak of the same name, located right behind town.  Near the car a wild ass approached us and snorted in a threatening manner.  I threw rocks at it until it went away.  The route followed a small wash which was lined with green rock.  Then we climbed a white scree ridge and finally came to the main slopes of the little peak which were red and orange.  Near the summit a bunch of rocks spelled out USMC.

excited for Beatty
excited for Beatty
colored rocks on Beatty
colored rocks on Beatty
Beatty summit shadows
Beatty summit shadows
Bare Mountain Peak
Bare Mountain Peak

January 2

From the ghost town of Rhyolite we hiked up to the saddle between Bonanza Mountain and Sutherland Mountain.  There were some old collapsed fences along the way.  At the saddle we were surprised to find that we were on the upper edge of a giant strip mine.  The mining had destroyed the ridge and travel was unpleasant.  We scrambled over to the summit of Bonanza Mountain and then followed the ridge back until we reached Sutherland Mountain.  I had hoped to go as far as Busch Peak, but decided against it when I saw a large gendarme which appeared to block the way.

Rhyolite structures
Rhyolite structures
the ghosts of Rhyolite
the ghosts of Rhyolite
pit mine
pit mine
Bonanza
Bonanza

In the afternoon we hiked up Rainbow Mountain which was even more geologically interesting than Beatty had been.  There were several bands of different colored rocks and along the way we discovered numerous geodes and crystals.  On the summit we found a seldom signed register.  From the summit of Rainbow we followed the ridge a short distance over to Black Peak.  From there we had commanding views of two more giant strip mines, one had destroyed neighboring Montgomery Mountain and the other had removed a large portion of Ladd Mountain.

Rainbow
Rainbow
Black
Black
chalcedony geodes and crystals
chalcedony geodes and crystals

January 3

Starting at Red Pass, located between Titanothere Canyon and Titus Canyon we followed a trail to the southwest.  It passed over a high point and then down to a saddle below the peak.  The peak was impressive looking.  The south face was sheer.  Our beta suggested passing around the north side and coming up from the west, however we found a trail leading directly up the northeast ridge and we followed that.  We came to some very nice ledges and then there was just one short scramble section below the summit.  I took time to make a few panoramas.

Titus Canyon camping
Red Pass shadows
Red Pass shadows
above Red Pass
above Red Pass
Thimble Peak
Thimble Peak
Thimble northeast ridge
Thimble northeast ridge
Thimble summit pano 1
Thimble summit pano 1
Thimble summit pano 2
Thimble summit pano 2
Thimble summit
Thimble summit
Mount Whitney visible
Mount Whitney visible

From Red Pass we drove down the roughest stretch of the one way dirt road and then came to the ghost town of Leadfield.  It had been a boom and bust town with mines only operational for one year sometime in the 1920’s.  I had hoped to explore some of the lead mines, but was only slightly disappointed to find that strong metal grates blocked entry to all three mines we encountered.

Leadfield ruins
Leadfield ruins

Further down the road we came to Klare Spring where there are petroglyphs.  Bighorn sheep come to drink here and it must have been a productive hunting spot in ancient times.  We next came to the narrows of Titus Canyon.  The walls of the canyon closed in on us and it was exciting to drive my car in such a place.

Titus Canyon
Titus Canyon
petroglyphs
petroglyphs
bighorn sheep
bighorn sheep
entering the narrows
entering the narrows

After emerging from the mouth of the canyon, we attempted to drive to the Eureka Dunes, but when we saw the condition of the road we decided it wasn’t worth 45 miles of that.  There were a couple of hours of daylight remain so we drove to Golden Canyon, one of my favorite places on earth.  In the last hour of light I led Heather through the maze of badlands to the northeast ridge of Manly Beacon.  I hadn’t told her much about this area so I was very pleased to see how impressed she was.  Near the top we scrambled up class 3 mud with scary exposure.  It was my 3rd ascent of the beacon.

Golden Canyon formations
Golden Canyon formations
shadows below Red Cathedral
shadows below Red Cathedral
Manly Beacon
Manly Beacon
ascending Manly Beacon
ascending Manly Beacon
Winters Peak alpenglow
Winters Peak alpenglow
hikers in Golden Canyon seen from Manly Beacon summit
hikers in Golden Canyon seen from Manly Beacon summit
descending crux mud scramble
descending crux mud scramble

The sun had set and it was starting to get dark.  Heather mentioned that we might not be able to find our way out of the canyon before dark, but I reminded her that I had my GPS in my pocket and she mentioned that it was also nearly a full moon.  Furthermore I told her there was one more peak we could climb in the dark if she liked.  Near the mouth of the canyon is a prominent point which I have named Golden Canyon Peak.  It is 510 feet high, but the base is at -180 feet.  To reach the summit you must find the correct side gully and then traverse out of it at the right point to reach the upper slopes.  See my page on summitpost for more information.  Anyhow, we climbed the peak in the dark with headlamps and when we reached the upper slopes, the moon was so bright we turned them off.  It was a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit foolish.

ascending "Golden Canyon Peak" in the dark
ascending "Golden Canyon Peak" in the dark
"Golden Canyon Peak" summit cairn
"Golden Canyon Peak" summit cairn

January 4

Heather wanted to see Badwater, so we went there and walked on the salt.  Afterward we went to nearby Sidewinder Canyon.  Our route information for this canyon was slightly confusing and several people had warned us that finding the narrows was tricky ordeal.  Sure enough, we wasted 2 hours in the wrong wash.  Even more frustrating, our route description didn’t seem to correspond to the terrain and all the various forks in the canyon.  But after another hour of searching we found the entrance to the first narrows.  A dark hole and some fallen boulders marked the entrance.  Beyond that a few sections were dark enough to warrant the use of headlamps.  In the second narrows, we scrambled up short dryfalls and followed twists and turns past a natural arch for nearly a mile.

salt flats
salt flats
sodium chloride
sodium chloride
Telescope Peak alpenglow
Telescope Peak alpenglow
Sidewinder Canyon
Sidewinder Canyon
entrance to the first narrows
entrance to the first narrows

After Sidewinder Canyon we drove to Jubilee Pass and hiked up the northeast ridge of Jubilee Mountain.  We had hoped to do Stewart Point instead, but after the confusion in the canyon, there wouldn’t be enough daylight for that.  The ridge route on Jubilee was straight forward with nice narrow section and pleasant views.

Jubilee north ridge
Jubilee north ridge
Jubilee summit
Jubilee summit
shadows near the summit of Jubilee
shadows near the summit of Jubilee

When we were finished with Jubilee there was just enough light left to check out Artist Drive, a one way scenic drive through the badlands.  On the way there we spotted some coyotes on the side of the road.  Near Artist’s Palette in the middle of Artists Drive, we noticed that the sky was putting on a fireworks show of sunset colors above Wildrose Peak.  Whoa!

coyote
coyote
sunset at Artists Drive
sunset at Artists Drive

January 5

It was time for a bigger peak.  At 6703 feet, Pyramid Peak is the 188th most prominent peak in the lower 48.  We had to walk 3 or 4 miles across the desert just to get to the base of it.  We followed a gully for a short distance to gain the southeast ridge.  There was a lot of loose rock and scree on the route.  The most interesting thing about the peak was that each band of rock we passed through was a different color than the one before.  Many of the white rocks were sparkly and had red veins inside them.  The summit itself consisted of this sparkly white and red rock.

4 mile approach to Pyramid
4 mile approach to Pyramid
Pyramid false summit
Pyramid false summit
Pyramid summit
Pyramid summit
Pyramid summit views
Pyramid summit views
John Stolk entry
John Stolk entry

While we were descending, near the base of the southeast ridge, two bombers from a nearby naval base came ripping through the pass.  Heather thought it was awesome.  Then, halfway back to the car, I found something petrified which looks suspiciously like dino-droppings.  This route required nearly all day to complete.  But we did make a short drive through Twenty Mule Canyon before dark.  After dark we had an excellent view of Mercury and Venus.

cactus gardens
cactus gardens
dino dukey
dino dukey
some more shadows
some more shadows
Twenty Mule Canyon
Twenty Mule Canyon
Pyramid seen from 20 Mule Canyon
Pyramid seen from 20 Mule Canyon

January 6

Camping below Corkscrew Peak
Camping below Corkscrew Peak
Corkscrew alpenglow
Corkscrew alpenglow
creeping shadows
creeping shadows
shadows below Corkscrew
shadows below Corkscrew
entering the wash
entering the wash
scrambling minor dry falls
scrambling minor dry falls

Sadly, every good trip must come to an end.  This was our last day.  We decided to climb Corkscrew Peak.  The route was supposed to be fun.  Unfortunately some bad beta steered us in the wrong direction and we failed to find the correct ridge route so we bailed down into the wash and joined the canyon route which thankfully we had better beta for.  There were several dryfalls to scramble up.  The first one was class 4 and about 10 feet high.  After the last dryfall, we were scrambling on some loose rock and I heard Heather call out.  I turned around just in time to see her falling.  I yelled, “Oh no!”.  She fell 2 feet and then rolled and then fell another 2 feet.  Then she jumped up and said she was ok, but I could see she was pain.   eek.gif

Corkscrew summit box
Corkscrew summit box
The Valley of Death
The Valley of Death
Corkscrew summit
Corkscrew summit
arch near corkscrew summit
arch near corkscrew summit

She came over to me and I told her to sit down so I could look her over.  She had no major injuries, just some cuts and bruises.  She said it happened so fast that she didn’t know whether it was a hand hold or foot hold which had failed.  I bandaged her up and told her we could turn around if she wanted, but she didn’t want to.  So we continued up the canyon and then followed a game trail out of the canyon and onto an upper ridge.  There was still no assuring sign of the popular ridge route.  But on the next ridge to the east, we found it.  A very well defined trail led to the summit.  For the descent we followed that down all the way to the base of the mountain and stopped to photograph a natural arch along the way.

Mosaic canyon narrows
Mosaic canyon narrows
dusk in Mosaic Canyon
dusk in Mosaic Canyon

After Corkscrew Peak we drove to Mosaic Canyon.  The narrows featured a twisty section carved out of white marble.  Beyond that we came to an open basin with all sorts of interesting features.  With more time we would have explored the whole canyon, but it was starting to get dark.  We left Mosaic and drove to the Mesquite Sand Dunes.  I had been to the top of the highest dune before, but it was Heathers first time in Death Valley and this was our substitute since we couldn’t make it to Eureka Dunes.  From the dunes both Thimble and Corkscrew were visible to the east.  In fading light we trudged along through the loose sand until we reached the top of the largest dune.  It was a good way to end the trip.

Mesquite Dunes
Mesquite Dunes
Thimble and Corkscrew visible
Thimble and Corkscrew visible
on the dunes
on the dunes
Mesquite Dunes highpoint
Mesquite Dunes highpoint

For anyone who has yet to visit Death Valley but wants to go, I would like to encourage you to go for it.  As you can see there is a lot to do there and we really only scratched the surface with this trip.

--------------
http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Anish
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Anish
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PostThu Jan 08, 2015 9:34 pm 
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Here are some of my shots.

Couldn't ask for a better adventure partner! xo

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"Our way is not soft grass. It's a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upwards, forward, toward the sun." -Ruth Westheimer
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Fletcher
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Fletcher
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PostThu Jan 08, 2015 9:46 pm 
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Really awesome guys! Looks like you guys are having fun!
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
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Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostFri Jan 09, 2015 12:46 am 
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That's a lot of desert tramping! Good time of year for those parts.

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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Bryan K
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Joined: 29 Sep 2005
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Location: Headed west soon
Bryan K
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PostFri Jan 09, 2015 4:25 am 
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Nice 'stache you've got going on in that last photo.
Looks like a fun trip with lots to offer! Very well done you two!!

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www.youtube.com/bkraai | www.flickr.com/photos/bkraai/sets/
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Jeb
Summit Driven



Joined: 21 Jul 2012
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Jeb
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PostFri Jan 09, 2015 6:52 am 
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It looks gorgeous there.
Way to make the most of it!

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JebsJourneys.com
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ree
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ree
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PostFri Jan 09, 2015 7:53 am 
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Thank you for posting such an AMAZING trip report!  I love Death Valley to pieces too, in fact, we were there same time you were.  We were exploring the north end, in Racetrack Valley.

Looks like you went all around!  That full moon was awesome, and I can imagine Golden Canyon/Badlands being all lit up.  It was super cold out there at night!! 

Did you drive from Wa?  Or did you fly in and rent a car in Vegas?

Where did you get your peak bagging beta for DV? 

I found death-valley.net forum for road stuff helpful.  I considered a long route back to Vegas via Oriental Wash or Tule Canyon to get to Goldfield, but bagged it because it was too long, and I was nervous about the route and time.

I have driven Titus Canyon a few times.  Just as you get over the pass, and drop into the big canyon with Leadfield, the road hugs the shady side of a steep drop, which can get icy/hairy.  Once I saw a guy in a pickup driving a 5th-wheel down Titus Canyon, before the narrows. shakehead.gif  shakehead.gif    I couldn't believe it.  Thank god he let us pass him, because it would have been a nightmare to be stuck behind him.  Freakin' touron.

That is cool you explored around Beatty.  Love Rhyolite too, and the outdoor sculpture garden. up.gif  up.gif

Your pics are a treat.
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cefire
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cefire
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PostFri Jan 09, 2015 9:44 am 
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Awesome TR, really makes me want to get down there this winter!!   up.gif

I remember some pretty aggravating navigation in those washes too!  huh.gif
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Redwic
Unlisted Free Agent



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Redwic
Unlisted Free Agent
PostFri Jan 09, 2015 12:48 pm 
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Great TR and photos!
Thank you for sharing!
up.gif  up.gif  up.gif

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"Revolutions are not overnight. The heightist mindset has minimally a 100 year head start. Eventually the climbing community will embrace geocaching." -Paul Michelson
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wolffie
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wolffie
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PostFri Jan 09, 2015 1:59 pm 
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Yea, though I walk through the shadows of the Valley of Death, yet I shall fear no evil, for verily I am the meanest son-of-a-bitch in the valley.
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Gimpilator
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PostFri Jan 09, 2015 2:42 pm 
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Thanks everyone.  Glad you like our photos and whatnot.

Ree - That's pretty neat that we were there at the same time.  We even discussed going to Racetrack Valley.  We're living in Laguna Beach until March and then returning to WA.  So Anza Borrego, the High Sierra, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley are all within reach which is really nice.

This trip actually wasn't planned out very well.  I suggested it on New Years Eve and then we spent that whole day researching online, shopping and then packing the car.  Most of our peak beta was obtained from SummitPost but some of the Canyon stuff was gathered from NPS sites and Google searches.

I haven't seen death-valley.net, but I'll be sure to check it out.  We might make one more trip there before returning to WA.

--------------
http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use
PostFri Jan 09, 2015 4:29 pm 
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Thanks! Man, you covered a lot of ground. up.gif

I want to make a return trip to Death Valley...now.

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography site: http://galiwalker.zenfolio.com/
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mehitabel
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mehitabel
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PostSat Jan 17, 2015 9:56 am 
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wow those might be the best photos of Death Valley i ever saw.

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toujours gai toujours gai
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John Morrow
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PostThu Jan 29, 2015 6:32 am 
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Gimpilator wrote:
For anyone who has yet to visit Death Valley but wants to go, I would like to encourage you to go for it.  As you can see there is a lot to do there and we really only scratched the surface with this trip.


OK, I am convinced!  If I get there I'll probably look like a copy-cat, Gimp, but your reports are too good!

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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.”
― MLK Jr.
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Mtn Dog
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Joined: 01 Aug 2004
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Mtn Dog
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PostThu Jan 29, 2015 9:31 pm 
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I like your car.  I just bought a Red XV Crosstrek in December.  It'll be in the mountains soon too.

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Footprints on the sands of time will never be made sitting down.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Shadows in the Valley of Death - January 1-6, 2015
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