After a very enjoyable outing in Red Rocks, NV, I was able to organize a return
trip only a week later that would include some pals who'd been climbing in
the desert with me of late. Rather than the usual evening drive across the
state, I decided to leave in the morning and do some short, easy climbs along
Interstate 15 on my way across the desert. None of them could be described as
classic, several were so short as to be almost silly, but collectively they
made for a fun half day of scrambling, a chance to keep my legs from getting
stiff on an 8hr drive from San Jose to Las Vegas.
Birthday of the Buddha/Camp Rock
These two easy summits are located in the Calico Mtns north of Yermo and I-15.
Dirt Mule Canyon Rd can be driven by any vehicle to the base of Camp
Rock, less than a third mile from Birthday of the Buddha. This BLM land is open
to limited OHV use and just east of Camp Rock across the road
is a popular shooting area
littered with the usual trash such activity entails. Camp Rock is only modestly
impressive. It can be climbed as class 3 from the east or class 2 from the north
and backside to the west. A ridgeline partially lined with a
use trail takes you from Camp Rock to Birthday of the Buddha. There is a nice
view of Yermo to the south and Calico Ghost town to the west.
Neither has a register and neither is particularly noteworthy. Why did I climb
them? I blame Courtney for listing them in his book, Rambles & Scrambles.
Roundtrip time to both summits was just over 30min. Btw, a more worthwhile
objective from the same starting point is
Peak 3,695ft about two miles to the east, the
second-most prominent peak in the range.
Another minor summit in Courtney's book, this one is located less than half
a mile from the Basin Rd exit off the interstate. This is the same exit one
uses to climb the far more impressive Cave Mtn. A sandy climb gets one
to the rocky summit of Basin Peak in about ten minutes. I found
a raven occupying the highest boulder when I arrived, a little miffed
perhaps upon my arrival, prompting him to vacate his perch. The peak did have
some of the few desert blooms I've seen this season.
Otto Mtn/Nickel Mtn
These two named summits are located just east of Baker, and though they, too,
are found in Courtney's book, I only found this out later. The two together made
for a pretty nice couple of hours. I parked between the two to the east,
adjacent to a junk yard of sorts that are sadly not uncommon around
these small desert towns. Most of the route was cross-country, though
I did find a useable old mining trail on the descent from Otto Mtn. I
climbed this peak first, up a gully on the south side to the
East Ridge, down another gully futher west. Terry Flood had left a
register when he climbed it with Shane Smith in 2013, along with
Shane's famous dad, Richard (Steve) Smith. His BLM business cards are just
about the only ones I leave in registers when I come across them. The trio had
also climbed Nickel Mtn earlier that same day, but if they left a register there
it didn't survive. All I found atop Nickel was an LA DWP survey marker.
Nickel is primarily limestone which provides some moderately fun scrambling if
you look for it.
Shadows had already begun to creep across the landscape when I returned after
5p, time to call it a day. It felt awkward taking a shower standing
amongst so much junk where I had parked - about as dirtbaggy as it gets.
Afterwards I jumped back on the highway and drove another couple hours to Vegas,
arriving well after dark on Moenkopi Rd in Red Rocks. Karl and Patrick would
arrive sometime in the night and we'd be ready to start our sandstone adventure
in the morning...