Mt. Dunfee P500 DS / DPG
Gold Mountain P2K DS / DPG
Mt. Jackson P1K DS / DPG
Palmetto Mountain P1K DS / DPG / RS

Wed, Apr 22, 2015
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profiles: 1 2 3 4


I was out by myself in Western Nevada, close to the CA border and due east from Bishop. I had driven through the small community of Gold Point the previous night, consisting of a handful of residents who refused to give up when most of the mining operations in the area ceased many years ago. South of Gold Point I found myself on a good dirt road described by Zdon in his guidebook for the approach to Mt. Dunfee. On my way from Los Angeles to Reno from one weekend to the next, I was stopping at various points in the CA and NV deserts to do some peakbagging. All of today's summits are found in Zdon's book, several of them P1Ks and one P2K.

Mt. Dunfee

This summit is located about 2mi SE of Gold Point, overlooking the town and the vast Lida Valley to the north. I followed the general description to the summit given by Zdon, approaching from the south. The route is about 3mi roundtrip with under 1,000ft of gain, with easy cross-country and sparse vegetation on these brown hills. I found a MacLeod/Lilley register from 1987 with about 10 pages filled. Most of the names I recognized with the famous Bob Packard having been the last visitor the year prior. The whole outing took about an hour and a half, getting me back to the van by 7:50a.

Gold Mountain

This P2K is located almost 8mi SSE of Gold Point and I didn't really expect to get to it on this trip, assuming I'd need better clearance to ply the roads in that direction. After finding the road to Dunfee in excellent condition, I decided to continue driving south and see if I couldn't get within a reasonable distance. The drive was somewhat circuitous and I took a wrong turn as I found myself heading east up sandy Oriental Wash. I got out to inspect the road a few times where the sand got soft and did some sliding around before calling a halt to what looked to be a foolhardy enterprise. It wouldn't be the first time I'd gotten the van stuck in sand and with that first misadventure still strongly in mind I stopped short of repeating it. I couldn't yet see this shy mountain, but I'd done decently enough, getting me within about 3.5mi of the summit. It would do.

I headed cross-country to the southeast before picking up the road leading to the Empress Mine that I should have been on. Though much of it was in decent shape, there were enough rocks and other obstacles that would have kept me from reaching the mine. Gold Mtn comes into view along this road after rounding a bend and turning south. I followed the road for almost two miles before striking off cross-country for a second time. I could have gotten higher using the roads, but I chose the more direct route. Now at over 7,000ft, the desert took on a different look with pinyon and junipers crowding the slopes, looking like portions of the Southern Sierra, without any of the tall trees found in that other locale. Fire appears to more regularly sweep over this landscape keeping it short and trim. It took about an hour and a half to reach the summit where I found a second MacLeod/Lilley register, this one placed a day after the one on Dunfee. This one had twice as many pages filled including most of those names from the Dunfee register. Twice the prominence, twice the visitors (ok, in this case it was almost 3x the prominence). Having ascended the North Ridge, I descended the more poorly defined NE Ridge back down to the access road and followed the same route back to the van, arriving just after 11a.

Mt. Jackson

This volcanic summit, resembling a layer cake, is located north of Lida Valley. A good dirt road runs NE from SR266 towards the north side of the peak. Zdon describes a right turn on a side road at 2.2mi, but I found no such junction that I could drive. Instead I drove up to the road's highpoint at 3.0mi where a junction heading right to the mountain was blocked by a fence. I went back down a quarter mile where I could park at a "Y" and started from there just before noon, less than a mile NW of the summit.

The first obstacle is a newish fence surrounding Wilderness that appears to have no access gates. OHVs and foot traffic seem equally discouraged. Over I went. Beyond that, Mt. Jackson has a formidable cliffband encircling it's upper reaches. The west side of the mountain has a second, lower cliffband as well. Zdon describes a route through the middle of the lower cliffband where class 2-3 can be found reaching all the way to the summit plateau, then easy hiking north to the highpoint. I decided on a more direct approach, aiming right for the summit SE of where I parked. This proved a good scramble. The lower band is easy enough to get through and requires no tricky routefinding. Above this, class 2 slopes lead to the base of the upper band. As I neared it, I picked out a weakness to get up the initial difficulty, finding someone had left a duck at the top to mark the point for the descent. More class 2 then climbs upwards to the right, followed by a short traverse to the right before I could find a scramble route up to the top with some good class 3. 40min was all it took to reach the highpoint from the van.

A pair of rusty, nested cans whose age belied their contents was found to contain a makeshift register left by Mark Adrian only a month earlier. He makes mention of a second highpoint to the southwest. I signed this one and walked the ten minutes to the second point which held another, much older register dating to 1982. The last two visitors, Packard and Adrian, both attested to the first point being higher per their hand levels. Will Vitz, Holliman and others have to return to visit the other point to claim this P1K? Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of Silly Highpointing...

I intended to descend by way of the Zdon route on the west side, but exited directly west from the second highpoint rather than moseying south a short ways as I should have. This led me down some class 3 terrain and a more adventurous route through the cliff band than I had planned. With a little trepidation I made it through the hardest part and by 1:30p I had returned to the van.

Palmetto Mountain

SR266 heading west climbs some 2,000ft out of Lido Valley to the 7,400-foot Lido Summit. On either side of this mountain pass are two P1Ks, Magruder Mtn to the south and Palmetto Mtn to the north each requiring the same effort, about 5mi roundtrip and almost 2,000ft of gain. I wanted to climb both, but I was running out of time before I had to be in Reno Thursday night and still many miles of driving to go. I simply didn't have the desire (nor possibly the energy) to do both this afternoon so I settled on Palmetto.

I followed the route roughly described by Zdon, starting on an old mining road (though I think it may have been bulldozed for forestry - all the old trees had been harvested more than a century ago for the mineworks). Like Gold Mtn, Palmetto and Margruder at almost 9,000ft elevation have pinyon and junipers on much of their slopes. Once the road gave out the cross-country involved dodging and weaving through the forest to reach the undulating SW Ridge. Here the trees thin and views open up. An annoying dip of some 200ft is encountered just before reaching the tower-topped summit. The towers aren't large, appearing to be microwave relays, but the highpoint appears to have been bulldozed flat to accommodate a few buildings that support them. I wandered around looking for an actual highpoint or register but gave it up after completing a circle. A higher peak to the north that I didn't recognize I later discovered to be Blue Dick, a P2K. The description for it appears to rule out use of the van without making it a long walk, so I will have to put that one on the back-burner.

My return followed back along much of the SW Ridge before dropping south into a drainage. This avoided a few minor elevation bumps further along the ridge and a somewhat shorter return, though not by much. It was nearly 4:30p by the time I returned, making for a 2.5hr outing. I showered before heading west and north again on SR266, briefly driving through Mono County in Fish Lake Valley on the east side of the White Mountains. Further north in Fish Lake Valley I returned to Nevada's Esmeralda County in the vicinity of Piper Mtn, the next day's first stop. I spent almost an hour driving the gravel road up McAfee Canyon, a little worried and even more surprised that I managed to drive it to its highpoint above 7,500ft. I spent the night here in very cool conditions - much different than I had had the previous three nights. It was already below 50F when I reached my camp spot and it would be close to freezing by morning. So much for the hot spell...


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