Landfill Peak P750 RS
Cave Butte P300 RS
Marble Mountain P750 RS

Feb 21, 2024

With: Iris Ma
Tom Grundy

Marble Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile


Today's effort was to a trio of summits in the Arrow Canyon Range NE of Las Vegas, all found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. The range is primarily rugged limestone and offers some challenging scrambling opportunities. The rain from the previous day had expended itself, leaving things overcast and chilly, but dry conditions. We left Tom's truck at our trashy campsite near the Pilot truck stop and took the Jeep out to the end of a BLM road at a low saddle in the western half of the range, starting out at 8a.

We chose to do this loop in a counter-clockwise fashion because we did not know if we'd be able to find our way back from Landfill at the end of the day when we were tired. There is an intermediate ridgeline we'd have to go over, and the west side of this looked terribly steep from where we parked. So we figured it would be best to see if the route worked at the start of the day in case we needed to make adjustments to it. Our route started by descending into an inner canyon, crossing it, and then heading west up a steep, rubbly gully that would grow steeper as we neared the high saddle. It was a bit of a mess for most of it, but the upper part was more solid and the scrambling never got past class 3, much to our satisfaction.

Once at the high saddle, we had to go back down the east side, an hour into the outing and our first summit, Landfill Peak, now in view. The east side of the saddle was an easier gradient, all class 2, giving us time to eye options for getting up Landfill across a second inner canyon. Beforehand, I had drawn in a route going up the NW Ridge, but that was looking unlikely with a series of cliffs that could be seen in profile, none of it looking realistic. Instead we focused on the West Face as we crossed the wash at the bottom of our descent. The easiest way appeared to be to the right, up class 2 slopes to gain the South Ridge, but of course our group wasn't always keen at taking the easy way when there is a more challenging direct route. Tom led us up through the class 3-4 West Face, eventually working our way onto the South Ridge near the top. We concluded it was no more direct or faster, but certainly more fun. Once on the South Ridge, the rest of the route was standard class 2, getting us to the summit by 10:30a.

Adam Walker had left a register at the summit in 2021, having combined two of our peaks with Pasture Mtn well to the north on a 17mi+ solo adventure - props for that one! We had his GPX track from that outing, so knew that the East Ridge could be used for descent. It was not as direct as the NW Ridge would be, but it was the safe bet. This time we chose the safe option because getting cliffed out on descent is much more frustrating than doing so on ascent. Iris had to take a work call while we were descending the East Ridge (there's a good line-of-sight for cell coverage to Interstate 15 to the southeast), so it was a slow stroll down the ridge. I stayed close to the north edge of the ridge looking for a shortcut to get us off that side, but the same cliffs that we saw on the NW Ridge continue wrapping around the north side. Eventually I found a way down, but we were almost at the point where Adam had turned off the ridge. Tom and I had some time to hang out on the ridge while Iris paused to focus more attention on her call. This gave me time to study Cave Butte, our next stop, and conclude there was nothing stopping us from ascending it via multiple routes.

Work call concluded, we continued down to the wash between Landfill and Cave Butte, noting tire tracks in the sandy wash (and a possible easier way to approach these peaks from the east). Tom and I went further up this wash before ascending the south side of Cave Butte to reach its East Ridge, while Iris jumped on the same ridge from its start. It was pretty much all class 2 as expected, and it was after 12:30p before we were atop Cave Butte. The summit is the lowest of the three and does not have wide-ranging views, more or less surrounded by higher summits except to the east. But it does have prominence, so it had that going for it. Our last summit, Marble Mtn, was another mile to the SSW and another 700ft higher, marking our highpoint of the day.

We dropped to the saddle with Marble Mtn to the SSW, finding it a fine spot from which to view Landfill's NW Ridge. We then spent the next 50min climbing class 2 slopes following the various ridgelines in a roundabout fashion to reach Marble Mtn from the northeast. A Kevin Hume party had left a register here in 2022, ours marking the second entry two years later. The summit offers nice views in all directions, the range highpoint seen some miles to the north. Seems there are a number of bigger fish in this range in that direction. For the descent, we initially started down the SE Ridge, class 2, before deciding to drop more directly to the SW down a steep gully that would lead to the wash below. Most of the route looked promising though the slope was steep and somewhat loose, so down we went. Where the topo map shows the most crowded contours about halfway down, we ran into some class 3-4 on questionable rock that gave us pause. Tom led down through this section, making it look reasonable (which it wasn't really), and then gave encouragement as Iris and I followed through the tricky moves. There was some minor class 3 below this, and eventually we reached easier ground as the gully flattened some and led out to the wash and the first inner canyon below. We had a last climb up tame slopes to get us back to the Jeep shortly after 3p. The stats came in at only 6mi, but the 3,800ft of gain on the day had us pretty tired. Tom would comment the next morning that his legs were a bit sore, a rare confession.

We drove back to the Pilot at the US95/I-15 junction to retrieve Tom's truck. Iris was due at the airport for a flight to Phoenix in the early evening, so Tom headed off for that duty before meeting back up with me southwest of Las Vegas. We found a quiet spot between Jean and Goodsprings, on what Google calls the Goodsprings Bypass Gravel Haul Route - quite the mouthful for what is really just a service road for a minor transmission line.


Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Wed Mar 6 14:09:29 2024
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: