Sun, Nov 8, 2015
I was parked behind Whiskey Pete's in Primm on the CA/NV border, far enough from the noise and lights of the Interstate and casinos to sleep peacefully. A text arrived around 5a to wake me up and notify me of Bob's arrival. He had driven from Hawthorne during the night, arriving earlier than expected, around 4a. He'd breakfasted at the iHop before texting me at our arranged meeting time. My terse directions proved insufficient for Bob to locate the open gate at the back of the casino which provides access to the backcountry north of the highway. After dressing, I drove back out to the gate and we eventually found each other driving around the mostly quiet parking lot. We consolidated our gear into Bob's Liberty, left the van at Whiskey Pete's and headed back out through the gate and north on one of the BLM roads heading north.
The sun had just risen as we set out on foot shortly after 6a, heading directly across the desert floor in a westerly direction. The mile-long hike over easy terrain gave us plenty of time to pick out a route up the mountain from the east side. We settled on what might be termed the East Ridge, a serpentine line that made for a good class 2 ascent route leading fairly directly to the summit. Climbing through the chilled morning air, we found a stiff, cold wind blowing over the summit ridge when we reached it. We scrambled to the summit, having taken about an hour and a half, then ducked down on the leeward side to get out of the wind. We found two registers among the summit rocks. Sue and Vic Henney had left one early in 2015, evidently not finding one left by Dennis Poulin a year earlier. Dennis noted his as "First known ascent" but in fact Gordon MacLeod has recorded an ascent on LoJ from 30yrs earlier. If Gordon had left a record of his ascent on the summit, we were unable to find it.
Thanks to the close approach via driving, it had not taken us long to reach the summit and to me, at least, it seemed a small shame to simply head back and call it done. I had originally planned a three peak tour, adding a couple of lower summits north and south of the highpoint. I mentioned the first summit to the south when we started out but Bob expressed no interest and we simply continued to the highpoint. Now that we were on the summit I worked on my persuasive skills a second time, suggesting Peak 4,586ft to the north would give us a nice little tour. Bob wasn't hot on the idea, but liked that it would enable us to make better use of the old road after descending. Reluctantly he agreed, reserving the right to complain as much as he deemed appropriate. I thought the next half hour off the highpoint heading north to be the best part of the day, with some pretty nice class 3 scrambling, including a few short tough sections where Bob felt it suitable to complain. With some coaching and encouragement he made it down the toughest of these, eventually landing us on easier ground along the crest. We continued along the ridgeline, until coming to a point at its north end. Bob chose to contour around its east side while I went up and over the top, the two of us meeting again on the descent to the saddle with Peak 4,586ft. From the saddle we climbed about 400ft to reach the highpoint around 9:20a. A collapsed wooden survey tower was found on the summit and I took a few minutes to set it back up while Bob sat for a short rest.
We descended southeast and east off the summit, following a meandering ridgeline with many forking ridges, all of which would work nicely at no more than class 2. Reaching the desert floor shortly before 10a, we found the old road that used to run over Stateline Pass to the north. It was poorly situated in the floodplain and washouts eventually rendered it useless for vehicles. A newer version is found on higher ground to the east, though as we found earlier, even that is subject to errant washouts. We followed the old road for about a mile and a half back to the Liberty, finishing around 10:30a.
We were done hiking by this time, returning to Jean around sunset. Our adventure wasn't quite done however, as we explored the backroads southeast of the Interstate in search of an access road to the Lucy Gray Mtns HP on the east side of the range. This turned out to be somewhat of a bust as our pavement gave way to sandy dirt powerline roads that went on for miles and miles, eventually taking us back to Primm without finding the magic road we were hoping for. We had dinner at the iHop where we made plans for the next day before calling it a night. Good times...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Bird Spring Range HP
This page last updated: Mon Nov 30 11:15:22 2015
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