Bitter Ridge P900
Black Butte P300 RS
Billy Goat Peak P750 DS / RS
Quail Point RS
Peak 4,413ft P500
Whitney Pocket Point RS

Fri, Dec 7, 2018
Black Butte
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profiles: 1 2


I was camped along Gold Butte Rd in Gold Butte National Monument, NV. It was the first of 3-4 days I planned to spend in the monument. I had been here once before, briefly, to climb Virgin Peak with Matthew while chasing DPS summits. This time I was back to do a more thorough investigation of the fine offerings found in this corner of Nevada. It was raining lightly in the morning which delayed my getting out of the sack. I was parked a mile from the summit of Juanita BM which I had planned to visit first. With the rain showing no sign of abatement, I decided to spend the time driving further south into the monument while waiting for better weather. It improved, such that I never got more than a few drops on me, but it was very cloudy for most of the day (until a spectacular later afternoon appearance of the sun) and I didn't get hiking until 9a. It was not a full day, but my feet were needing some rest anyway.

Bitter Ridge

Found west of Gold Butte Rd, a rough spur road forks off the main road shortly before reaching Whitney Pocket. I drove the road some 5mi to the southwest before stopping less than half a mile from the summit. It turns out I could have driven even further, up to a saddle southeast of the summit. I walked the remaining bit of road, then climbed steeply up limestone slopes. There was a cool 10-foot limestone arch found along the way. The highpoint is found a short distance west of a false summit atop the ridgeline. With more than 900ft of prominence, it has a commanding view overlooking the northwest portion of the monument. On the return I made a small loop by following the ridgeline some distance to the northeast before dropping back to the road and returning to the jeep.

Black Butte

Black Butte is located less than two miles northeast of Bitter Ridge. I drove back down the road about a mile to a large parking area near a wash on the west side of Black Butte. The distance is less than half a mile to the summit, but features some steep scrambling, easy class 3. A register placed in 2009 had ten pages of entries, though most of these held only one party on a page. Nice little peak.

Billy Goat Peak

This summit is found in Zdon's Desert Summits at the south end of the Virgin Mtns and south of Whitney Pass. I drove up to the pass and down the other side in search of a spur road that I thought could get me closer. I ended up driving through the Aravada Springs Ranch (formerly the Whitney Ranch) and briefly into Arizona before discovering this spur road was gated closed. I then drove back through the ranch and parked north of Billy Goat Peak, about 1.3mi away. It turns out there's a rough spur road (shown on the topo map) that I could have driven if I'd noticed it, perhaps another 1/3mi closer. Billy Goat Peak is the highpoint of Whitney Ridge, and after some initial cross-country and road travel, I began following various ridges heading generally south along Whitney Ridge. Unlike all the desert stuff I'd been doing the past week, there were pine trees along the route at an elevation over 5,000ft. I weaved between these, over much limestone rock (some class 3 scrambling, too, but it could easily be avoided by moving to the side of the ridge). The low clouds that had obscured the summit earlier cleared nicely, giving me views from the top when I reached it. The higher peaks in the Virgin Mtns to the north were still partially obscured, however. There was an old John Vitz register from 1983 with Barbara/Gordon visiting three years later. Another register shows up in 2003 with 11 pages of entries. Not sure what happened for the 20yrs between 1983 and 2003, though. I returned via much the same route, save for some sidehilling on the east side to avoid the class 3 sections.

Quail Point

This is an exceedingly minor point off the road between Whitney Pass and Whitney Pocket. I parked a quarter mile from the summit and climbed up the steep north side, taking all of maybe 10min. I detoured a bit on the return to take a safer route back - the north side is quite steep with loose earth near the top.

Peak 4,413ft

This unnamed summit with more than 600ft of prominence lies above Whitney Pocket to the northeast. I climbed the mile-long SE Ridge directly from the road to the summit, with a small descent to a saddle along the way. Richard Carey had left a register here in 2015 with no other visitors since. Because there was lots of sharp, somewhat tedious limestone along the ridge, I decided to try another way down. I found it to the east, an initially steep descent into a valley on that side of the ridge that had a spur road at the bottom. Had I known about it, I could have driven this road to make for a much shorter outing. I followed the road back down to the main road where I'd parked.

Whitney Pocket Point

This is the large sandstone playground found at Whitney Pocket, a popular camp area at the main road junction. This was much like the scrambling the previous day in Valley of Fire and I enjoyed the challenging scrambling and fun route-finding. I made it to the summit about 20min before sunset and just as the sun finally came out from the clouds where it had hidden most of the day. The peaks and valleys around me were lit up in gloriously warm, late-afternoon colors. What a difference since morning. Looks like the weather is going to improve for the weekend...


Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Tue Dec 11 16:52:09 2018
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: