Brown Peak P1K DPS / DS / DPG / RS
Peak 4,830ft P300

Mon, Jan 21, 2008
Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profile


It was the last of four days solo in Death Valley, with enough time for a relatively moderate peak followed by the long 7-8hr drive home. I saved Brown Peak in the Greenwater Range for this last day since it was the easiest of the four peaks I chose to climb in the area. Sleeping in the van alongside SR127 east of the peak, I was up before sunrise for the first time in three days. The temperatures were not as cold this morning, allowing for an earlier start. I had intended to start by headlamp, but by the time I got my act together around 6a and had started out, it was possible to find my way in the fading darkness, leaving my lamp stowed away.

It was a long walk across the desert floor, almost an hour and a half to cover the four miles to the mouth of the canyon indicated in the DPS route "B." The hiking was mostly over volcanic rock, flattened over the millenia by rains and floods, easy for the most part, but regularly changing directions to avoid the entanglement of a hundred wash channels and the brush that lined them. During this time the sun had come up, bathing the range in morning light and allowing me to see the peak I was after from a distance. Just before dropping into the wash eminating from the main canyon, I passed by what looked like an old camp, probably dating to before the new Wilderness boundary was established in 1994. A rusty fire grate, some old railroad ties, and a small collection of old tins and bottles were all that remained as the dirt access road was slowly being returned to the desert. Hiking up the canyon, I came across the whitish rock described in the guide, the only interesting scrambling I found all day that almost entailed class 3 climbing. As the canyon petered out in its upper reaches to steep, somewhat loose slopes, I picked my way up a random path to reach the main <4647 above. From there it was a simple walk north up easing slopes, over a couple false bumps to the summit at the north end of the ridge.

It had taken more than three hours to reach the summit going the long way (the shorter DPS route "A" approaches from the west but involves some not-so-great dirt road driving). The earliest register found at the summit had been placed by MacLeod and Lilley in 1978. As I dutifully added my name to the latest register, I espied the barely lower Peak 4,830ft to the east, impulsively deciding to pay it a visit on my return. I scrambled down the East Ridge of Brown to the saddle between the two peaks, then climbed to the top, taking all of 30 minutes. No register or cairn to be found, but the views to the east were better than found on Brown, particularly to the small but impressive Eagle Mtn to the northeast. In descending the SE Ridge of the lower peak, I found a few surprising clumps of greenery amid the more desert-like scrub, along with a handful of flowers vying to be the first of the new year. The ridge was a fine descent actually, better than the standard gully route I had taken on the way up. I rejoined the original route as the ridge dropped down to the desert floor and I retraced my steps back to the van. The whole outing took almost six hours, not quite as long as it would take me to make the long drive back to the Bay Area that afternoon and evening.

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