Tue, Apr 21, 2015
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I had been to Beatty, NV once before, but only as a quick stop on a Death Valley tour I was doing with Matthew a few years ago. This second time I was on my way to Reno from Los Angeles (from one volleyball tournament to another), taking the scenic tour through the deserts of western Nevada to do some peakbagging in the middle of the week. The mountains around Beatty have a rich mining history, especially to the west at the ghost town of Rhyolite. I was here to chase down a number of peaks described in Zdon's guidebook as well as some P1Ks. I had spent the night at the old Carrera ruins (also described by Zdon) not far from the start of the day's first effort.
I started up the road traversing north as described by Zdon in his route description. Where it reaches a highpoint before dropping down into the next drainage I paused to consider his route advice. Zdon's route continues on the road, dropping a couple hundred feet before heading east up another drainage to the north. But why not simply head up from the road's highpoint, along what would be Bare Mtn's West Ridge? I had guessed that perhaps it was fraught with cliffs or similar obstacles but as I stood there looking at it, it seemed a reasonable route. So up I went to find out. It was a good route as it turned out, primarily limestone scrambling with some solid class three if one sticks to the ridge (there was only one or two places where I couldn't follow the ridge directly). Most if not all of the class 3 could be avoided by dropping some to one side of the ridge or the other, usually the south side. It was a more direct route as well, getting me to the main crest just south of the highpoint. In all I spent just under two hours to reach the top.
A Gordon/Barbara register had been placed in 1978 with some 35 pages filled, not surprising considering its P2K status and relatively easy access. The most recent entry was a month prior, by the other CA dynamic duo, Sue & Vic Henney. Oh, and the one before that was the CO duo of Jennifer and Gerry Roach. A 1949 USGS benchmark is also found at the summit with views stretching out, well, not that far because of haze today, but one can certainly get a good feel for the lay of the land around Bare Mtn in all directions (N - E - S - W).
Flush with the success of what I thought was an improvement on Zdon's route, I wondered if a more direct route couldn't be used directly down to the TH. This would involve following the West Ridge down for about half a mile, then dropping left into the drainage south of the West Ridge. This route as well proved quite usable. The upper part is shallow with a gentle gradient, the middle part is steeper, narrower and rockier, and the lower part is a more interesting scramble. I kept expecting to find an impasse in the shape of a dry waterfall, but around each corner the difficulty never increased above easy class 3. The only exception was at the very bottom where I found the difficult dry waterfall I'd been expecting. I managed to downclimb half of this with a few tough class 3 moves, but the final 10ft were more than I could handle. Luckily there is an easy bypass to the north which goes steep class 2 and I used this to finally emerge at the mouth of the wash a short distance above where I parked the van. The whole descent took only an hour.
It was 3:20p by the time I returned to the van. The weather had cooled some since the previous few days when it was near 90F and I wasn't as eager to call it day so early just yet. Checking my GPS for other summits in the area, I hit upon Sutherland Mtn just above Rhyolite. I attempted to reach it from the northwest, off a side road from the main dirt road I'd driven in on to Sawtooth and Bullfrog. This road ended at a small patch of private property. Someone had parked a trailer in the road to keep others from driving onto the property. I parked off the road here to make what I thought was an easy climb to Sutherland, but found a deep canyon separating me from the peak. I wasn't all too thrilled with the prospect of the extra unplanned elevation gain, so I decided to call it a day anyway. In way of compensation, I took some time to visit Rhyolite, now maintained as a tourist stop by the BLM. There were a number of other parties milling about the site, with some impressive ruins that included a schoolhouse, hotel and several businesses. Afterwards I drove back to Dennys for a meal before heading north on US95 about 50mi to the Gold Point area where I planned to hike the next day...
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