Black Mountain 2x P1K RS
Fracture Ridge Peak RS
North McCullough Peak P500 RS
Indian Point P300 RS

Wed, Feb 16, 2022

With: Patrick O'Neill

Etymology
Black Mountain
Indian Point
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
Black Mountain previously climbed Mon, Apr 23, 2018

Continued...

Patrick had arrived sometime in the middle of the night. We had originally planned to meet in an open field identified in a satellite view, but the situation on the ground had it all blocked off when I arrived in the early evening. Seems Henderson is developing faster than Google can keep up with the imagery. We were here to do a traverse of four summits along the northern part of the McCullough Range that separates Las Vegas Valley from Eldorado Valley. I had been to the highpoint of the range, Black Mtn in 2018, along the popular trail that goes to the summit. Today's plan would recreate the climb of Black Mtn before heading cross-country along the crest of the range to the south, and eventually exiting to the west to another trailhead. The plan called for leaving a vehicle at the Petroglyph Canyon TH before carpooling to the Black Mountain TH about 4mi to the northeast. The plan ran into a problem almost immediately when we found the Petroglyph Canyon TH doesn't open until 8a. The gate is located about 0.6mi from the TH, inconvenient but hardly a showstopper. We left Patrick's Grand Cherokee outside the gate on Democracy Dr and headed to the starting TH.

We eventually got started around 7:40a, and with myself doing the navigation, it took only a few minutes before we got onto the wrong trail. Oops. The trail we followed was heading to the next ridgeline to the south of the one leading to Black Mtn. We didn't have to backtrack, instead using a connector trail to get back to the Black Mtn Trail, but it probably cost us an extra mile. As we were hiking up the correct trail, we passed by a gentleman who had seen us earlier near the TH. He was understandably confused that we were passing him for a second time, until I sheepishly acknowledged my poor navigation skills. It would take us two and a third hours to make it the summit of Black Mtn. There is a large rock windbreak found there and a very busy register box with several notebooks and lots of trash. The only thing missing here was a tattered American flag on a pole.

Most of the range is composed of broken, dark volcanic rock, the sort of stuff that can make for tedious travel. We were happy to find it mostly otherwise. The ridgeline heading south was a bit rough to start, but improves with time and distance. PB has listed additional points along the ridgeline despite little prominence, an added bonus for opportunities to turn red dots to green ones when using the PB app. Patrick would pause at each of these to add them, mostly, I think, to spite me. There is East Black Mtn, Fractured Ridge (in the wrong location), North McCullough Peak (in the wrong location) and several unnamed points. The actual Fractured Ridge (at spot elevation 4,928ft) features a tattered Nevada State flag, saving us from a suffering a flagless day. For the most part, the traverse was pleasant and enjoyable with good views and some joshua trees to add color and substance, aside from the rock, dry grass and low brush that characterizes most of the crest. North McCullough Peak is found at spot elevation 5,058ft and is the North McCullough Wilderness HP, an extra bonus. The last summit, Indian Point, is lower than the others, found off the west side of the crest on the start of our return. In all, we spent more than 3.5hrs on the traverse from Black Mtn to Indian Point, time well spent.

We continued west over the summit of Indian Point, dropping more than 1,500ft down a modest grade to the wash system below. We would still have more than 2.5hrs once we left Indian Point to return to the trailhead at Petroglyph Canyon. Once we reached the trail, Patrick was feeling pretty good and ready to jog the last few miles to help speed things up. With a bum leg, I wasn't going to be jogging, but I encouraged Patrick to do so - he would then be able to bring his GC to the TH and save me another 2/3mi of hiking. This worked out pretty nicely, as I got back to the trailhead around 4:20p, only a few minutes before Patrick drove up. We then headed back to the original TH to retrieve the Jeep, then off for showers and dinner. Finding a place to shower around the west side of Henderson is quite tricky as there is almost no off-road access to the adjacent BLM lands. We ended up having dinner at the Black Mountain Grill (appropriate enough, we thought) which wasn't too bad. Afterwards, we drove to Boulder City where we camped outside town on the south side - at least there's still off-road access to free camping in this neck of the woods...

Continued...


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