I had spent the night camped off US95 between Searchlight and Henderson, NV. In
the morning I was up early, driving to Henderson to pick up a few supplies and
top off with gas, then headed east into the
Lake Mead NRA for some peaks
described in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. My day started off well
enough, tagging five summits before my routine was interrupted by a Snapchat
message. This starting a 175mi detour back to California to rescue a couple of
stranded friends. Afterwards, I decided to tag the highpoint of the Little
Piute Mtns, a range highpoint I hadn't planned on during this trip, but was
happy to do while in the area.
This is the first peak encountered while heading east on Northshore Rd, on
the south side of the highway. A paved spur road forks south to Callville Bay
and I used this to get a bit closer, parking just off the road where
it goes over a small pass east of Black Mesa. From there its a steep
scramble up to the mesa, across a tortoise fence, then a long-ish
slog (3/4mi) over tedious volcanic boulders that make one pay
attention to every foot placement - a good way to study the raw earth up
close, I suppose. The summit has a cairn with the remains of a survey
tower. Nice view overlooking Lake Mead to the south, though
still quite a few miles distant.
Found two miles northeast of Black Mesa, also on the south side of Northshore
Rd, this summit is a short hike about 2/3mi each way. The maps show a parking
area that could get one a bit closer, but this was gated and seems to
be a road maintenance yard with piles of gravel and rock. I simply parked at
the locked gate and went up and down from there. One of the
least inspiring peaks in the area, I thought.
Knife Peak/Peak 2,526ft/Slabs Peak
Located about 2mi north of Blowing Peak on the north side of the highway, these
were all interesting peaks with some fun scrambling along knife-edged
ridgelines. I drove in on West End Wash Rd, a gavel/sand road that goes
north into the Gale Hills. I parked just before the road goes between Knife
and Slabs Peaks, heading to Knife Peak first.
I hiked above a west-trending
wash on its north side, angling northwest as I got nearer the peak.
Steep scrambling leads to the ridgeline with some class 3 scrambling
to the fine summit. An LVMC party had left a register
here a year earlier, mine was the only other entry. I turned east
to follow the ridgeline to Peak 2,526ft,
the slightly lower east summit of Knife Peak. This had the best scrambling
of the day along the knife-edged ridgeline
between the two peaks, separated
by 1/3mi. After reaching the second summit, I dropped back down
to West End
Wash, spoke briefly with a pair of euro-camper
folks hanging out in the wash,
then began ascending Slabs Peak to the east. More steep scrambling on more
limestone rock was mostly enjoyable. I startled a group of eight
bighorn rams, and then another group of six higher up.
They ran off initially, then pausedtook off for other parts of the
mountain, not to be seen again. Once on the ridge,
there was another long section of decent scrambling to the summit.
I started down the SE side of Slabs Peak, intending to tag Knob Peak, less than
a mile to the southeast.
Halfway down I received a Snapschat from Iris,
showing that her and Tom had been stranded at the Clipper Mtn TH near I-40.
After a short chat discussion, it looked like I was their best option for
rescue, so I cancelled Knob Peak and headed back to
the jeep. Then began a
three hour drive back to California to provide a jump start
for their jeep's
dead battery. Seems Tom needs to do a little debugging to find out why his
battery is draining too easily. This wasn't the first time he's had a dead
battery in the desert this year, but it was the first time he didn't have
another vehicle readily available. After 10min's effort, we had Tom's engine
running once again and we headed back out to the Interstate.
Little Piute Mtns HP
While Tom and Iris headed home, I decided I should have enough time to visit
the highpoint of the Little Piute Mountains, about 20mi southeast of the
Clipper Mtns. I drove east on I-40, exiting at Water Rd. Then about 16mi of
gravel/sand driving got me within a mile of the Little Piute Mtns on the north
side. It was just after 4p when I started up,
chasing the setting sun that went down
about 15min after I'd begun. Keeping a strong pace, I made good
time over easy terrain to reach the summit
in less than 25min. There was a
cairn and wooden scraps from a survey tower, plus a register dating
I was surprised that it had some 27 pages of entries for such an obscure
summit. I photographed the lot of them, then beat a hasty retreat back down
the mountain so I could get back before needing a headlamp. I took a cold
shower upon my return, then began the return drive to Nevada. Not exactly how
I had planned for the day to go, but I had great fun nonetheless...