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Gimpilator
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Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 1417 | TRs
Location: Edmonds, WA
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PostSun Mar 22, 2020 3:52 pm 
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After 3 weeks stuck at home, recovering from a serious case of pneumonia which required hospitalization, I was anxious to get out and see how my lungs were faring.  The plan was to start out easy with a half day objective.  I brought a book so I could wait for Frances in the car while she did some more peaks closer to Vegas.

Fire Benchmark - 3947’

We did a more direct variation of the east ridge route.  Aside from being a bit winded on the steep sections, I felt pretty good.  Frances said I was breathing harder than normal.  We saw a nice bighorn ram along the ridge.

pneumonia recovery hike
pneumonia recovery hike
Bighorn Peak
Bighorn Peak

From the summit we noticed a very attractive looking peak to the northwest.  I studied the map and couldn’t help but wonder if a direct ridge run would work out.  We talked it over and I was feeling good, so we went for it.  My only regret was not packing a sandwich.  No excess of food and water on this day.

Fire Benchmark summit
Fire Benchmark summit
The Muddies
The Muddies
Virgin
Virgin
Mormon beyond valley of Fire
Mormon beyond valley of Fire
Peak 3740
Peak 3740

Peak 3740

We descended directly down the north ridge, skirting one knife-edge section.  It was steep going and there were a few rock steps to negotiate with.  Reaching the base of the peak, we turned around and were surprised by the appearance of what we had come down.  It looked much worse than it was.

Peak 3740
Peak 3740

After following along the connecting ridge we came to the base of the southeast ridge of Peak 3740, which seemed like it might work for us.  But on closer inspection, it didn’t look great, so we traversed further north into a gully.  This gully took us up past the worst of the ridge to where we could scramble class 2 and 3 the rest of the way.

North Fire Peak
North Fire Peak

There was still a lot of time left, so we talked about going for a few more peaks.  The biggest objective left within reach would be North Fire Peak, a very seldom visited peak.  The only problem was that the two established ways to get there from here were both sketchy 4th class.  We decided to try a new approach, seeking a weakness in the north facing escarpment cliffs, which separate all these limestone peaks from the Valley of Fire.  To get there we must first traverse steep scree slopes above Fire Alcove.

Peak 3399

We passed over another minor peak.  Summit cairn, but no register.  This little peak features a very large arch on the south ridge as well as a few big caves on the west face.

looking back at Peak 3740
looking back at Peak 3740
looking ahead to the North Fire Peaks and Bighorn
looking ahead to the North Fire Peaks and Bighorn

North Fire Peak – 3743’

Traversing between Fire Alcove and Bighorn Peak we made use of a few scant sheep trails.  These took us up and through some exposed craggy rock, presumable a better option than dropping far below to avoid it.  Based on the map, there might be a few hidden passages through the cliffs, although it certainly didn’t look very promising.

traverse
traverse

I was hoping to pick up hints from the sheep tracks in the scree and this is ultimately what steered us in the right direction.  At the worst spot, it was only a few moves of class 3 on crappy rock.  Once we reached the top of the cliffs, we were both pretty excited that the route worked.  I bent down to pick up a baby horned lizard.  It was so small it hardly had any horns yet.

North Fire Peak
North Fire Peak

We decided to do “Bighorn Peak” on the way back to the car, and thus headed for North Fire first.  Paula had told me that she would be in the area with her husband Jimmy on this day.  We were very lucky to encounter them on the summit.  This will certainly be the first and last time that the peak gets two ascent parties in one day.

social distancing on North Fire summit
social distancing on North Fire summit
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire

After studying the map some more, I told Frances I wanted to add a couple more peaks.  She thought I was joking at first.  It seemed we could do a nice long ridge run and then drop into a canyon and exit the way our friend Stav had entered the area.  But it would mean skipping Bighorn Peak, which was not worth all that backtracking. Frances agreed.

Fire Benchmark, Bighorn, Redstone Peaks
Fire Benchmark, Bighorn, Redstone Peaks

North Fire, East Peak – 3655’

Descending from the main peak on the way to the east peak, I heard Frances take a tumble behind me.  When I got to her, I could tell from her pain level that she was injured.  It was a bad sprained ankle.  I asked her if she thought she could make it out.  She said she didn’t have a choice, but I knew that we had cell signal, if worse came to worse.  She laced the boot very tight and kept hiking.

North Fire East Peak
North Fire East Peak

Peak 3363

This is another obscure peak with probably only a handful of ascents.  I expected Frances to wait for me at the saddle while I made a quick ascent and then we would descend the shaded canyon together.  She had run out of water long ago and I had only a few mouthfuls remaining.  She surprised me when she said she wanted to do this last peak.  As it turned out, it was a good thing she did.

Peak 3363
Peak 3363

Nice views on this last summit.  No register.  We started descending back toward the north saddle, away from the car.  I knew from the map that the canyon was excessively snake-like and would add about a mile to our hike out.  Staring at the map again, I saw a ridge which might reasonably get us down to the road.  There are so many cliffs in these limestone ranges.  But if it worked, it would save us a lot of distance and time.  We decided to try it.

last summit
last summit

All went well for the most part.  It was steep and a bit chossy as far as limestone goes.  We had a close encounter with a herd of 20 sheep.  Then at 2590 feet, we came to the top of a cliff, where the map had indicated a nice slope should be.  We were able to scramble down some class 3 ledges.  The rest went nicely.

sheep
sheep
steep and chossy
steep and chossy

Sorry to say that the injured ankle is looking pretty ugly today.  Frances won't be doing any hiking for awhile.

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Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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KarlK
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Joined: 18 Jun 2009
Posts: 534 | TRs

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PostSun Mar 22, 2020 7:34 pm 
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So dude, about that pneumonia, I hear there's this bug going around which can cause that, some call it "The Covid", and a couple weeks ago the prez said on live TV that anybody who wants to get tested can get tested, and the testing was perfect, just like the "perfect call", so anyway, just know that The Covid is afoot, or a-lung would be more correct I guess, so just so you know.

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Karl J Kaiyala
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