Fletcher Peak 52PC / DS / RS
Cockscomb Ridge 52PC / RS

Mon, Jul 20, 2015
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

Continued...

I was camped out in my van at the Trail Canyon TH in the Spring Mtns outside of Las Vegas, on my way to Telluride, CO, taking the scenic route to get there. It had been 100F+ in Las Vegas the day before, but it was in the 50s in the early morning hours at 7,500ft where I parked. Unfortunately it was also raining. Not heavily, but a steady, drizzling rain that kept up much of the morning, keeping me inside. I used the opportunity to catch up on some needed sleep, finally getting up after 10:30a and starting an hour later. The rain had stopped shortly before I got up, but of course most everything outside was wet. I had trashed my toes a few weeks earlier on an aborted backpacking trip, hiking more than 15mi with wet feet, and was loathe to do so again. I had planned to climb Harris Mtn, but since that was an all cross-country route I decided a trail would give my feet a better chance of staying dry. So I chose to climb a few peaks that would keep me mostly on trail.

Fletcher Peak

This easy-to-reach summit lies less than 2mi SE of the much grander Mummy Mtn, one of the monarchs of the Spring Mtns and a DPS summit. Fletcher rises a few hundred feet above the magic 10,000-foot mark and gets mention in Andy Zdon's Desert Summits. The shortest route to Fletcher is from the north starting at Hilltop Campground off SR158, but I used the longer approach via Trail Canyon in order to add Cockscomb Ridge on my way back. Trail Canyon is a wide and well-maintained trail that worked nicely in keeping my feet dry while the moisture took its time evaporating from the flora that day. The trail passes over the east shoulder of Mummy Mtn before descending the other side, passing less than a mile to the NW of Fletcher. A duck marks the start of a very good use trail that goes all the way to the west summit. Fletcher has two closely spaced, forested summits with the same number of contours shown on the map. The GPS was unable to distinguish which of the two was higher. Both had registers, but the east summit's version was weak by comparison. Neither had much in the way of views, especially considering the dismal weather conditions.

Cockscomb Ridge

This was the far more interesting of the two peaks. Courtney Purcell in his Rambles and Scrambles of the Las Vegas area, along with other source cite the South Ridge as a class 3 climb, and is probably the quickest way to get there if this is the only peak you're doing. I wondered if I'd be able to climb it from the north, starting from the saddle where Trail Canyon meets the Charleston Peak Trail. There are some pinnacles and a deep step that make it nonobvious when viewed from the trail. It turns out you can, though I made a minor mistake in following what looked like a use trail that almost immediately traverses around to the east side of the ridge. This disappeared into nothingness and I soon found myself scrambling up steep slopes and back to the ridgeline. Better to simply start off along the use trail that follows near to the crest, abruptly ending at a large step just north of the summit. From here the route passes down through a notch to the east side where use trail and ducks lead up through class 3 terrain to join the route from the south maybe 30yds from the summit. Unlike Fletcher, Cockscomb's summit sports no trees, leaving the views unobstructed. A register I found in a cracked plastic jar went back only a few months.

From the summit, it took but an hour to return to the TH which I reached not long before 4p. Some blue skies were already evident and by the time I had driven SR158 from Lyle Canyon to Lee Canyon, the clouds were beginning to dissipate, suggesting better weather to come. I spent the night parked at the end of the pavement just above the ski area in a large clearing used as the TH for the Bristlecone Trail where I planned to hike the next day. I'm not sure whether camping is allowed in one's car here, but I managed to sleep through the night undisturbed...

Continued...


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