Thu, Feb 16, 2017
After spending the night at Daylight Pass, Brian and I paid a visit to the northernmost part of the Funeral Mtns around Chloride Cliff. We used his 4WD truck to drive the sometimes rough jeep road in from Daylight Pass Rd, about six or seven miles, all told. There were some sections with large rocks and tight turns, but with careful, slow driving Brian managed to get us all the way in without mishap. The only other vehicle we saw all day was parked at a clearing along the way in. It looked more like a military vehicle than the highly modified camper it was. The owner had had it shipped in from Switzerland since you can't go down to the neighborhood dealer to buy something like this. He had driven in to spend the night and watch sunrise, then drove it out the alternate route through Nevada shortly after we left him. Maybe that could be my van replacement...
It was almost 8a by the time we had driven to the top of a ridgeline just east of Chloride Cliff, or what we thought was Chloride Cliff. I had checked the GPS and noted our first summit was only 1/3mi away and we wandered over to the highpoint in about 10min of easy walking. The road we followed had given out before reaching the highpoint, but the cross-country was trivial and we were soon enjoying the summit views. We remarked that Courtney in his book, Rambles & Scrambles had said that one could drive to the top, if so desired. How was this possible? A typical guidebook author's lapse of memory, we guessed. The joke was on us, however, because as we walked back to the truck I noted on the GPS that our track didn't go over Chloride Cliff. The summit was 1/3mi to the south, but we had walked west. Seems I'd led us to what we dubbed "False Chloride," a similar-looking summit to the northwest of the correct summit, this one having only about 200ft of prominence. Brian looked terribly disappointed when I told him we don't get to count it. The true Chloride Cliff was clearly visible and obviously higher to the south, but I had mistaken it for Boundary BM, a P1K we planned to do afterwards.
Having lost a good deal of confidence in my navigation skills, Brian only half-believed me when I directed him on our drive further south along one of the many roads that fork off around the Chloride City site. Once we had driven down and back up to a second ridge, the area highpoint of Boundary BM first became visible. The world before us once again matched our expectations. Starting off for Chloride Cliff a second time, we had to apologize for disparaging Courtney since a road does indeed go to the summit. We had parked half a mile away and hiked over to the highpoint with minimal elevation gain and effort. The last 100ft of road goes steeply up the east side - more than all but the beefiest of 4WD vehicles would be capable of. At the flattish top which looked remarkably like the false one, we found a USGS reference mark pointing to Boundary BM a mile away, an unusual placement for such a marker. Usually they are within 20-30ft of the benchmark as a help in locating it. There was a recent register from 2016 that was already quite busy, clearly due to the ease in reaching this point with an appropriate vehicle. After returning to the truck we grabbed our packs and headed out for a three hour stroll that would take in Boundary BM and a couple of bonus summits.
It was enjoyable ramble along the crest of the range dividing Amargosa and Death Valleys, with easy cross-country travel, unobstructed views, and only a few thousand feet of gain over the course of about seven miles. We reached the first, Boundary BM, in about 45min, finding a generic, unlabeled benchmark along with a register. There were 10 loose sheets from the 1970s when the summit enjoyed a popular run. There were only three parties to visit during the 80s and 90s, Gordon & Barbara among them in 1987 when they left a second register. Starting around 2006 the summit began to enjoy renewed popularity, probably due to highpointers growing interest in prominence. We next continued to Peak 5,350ft another mile to the southeast, again shortcutting the somewhat circuitous ridgeline by dropping to a gully before starting up to the summit, trading off more gain for less mileage. At the bonus summit by 10:40a, we found a small cairn at the highest point of a flattish summit, noted it with only a brief pause, then headed northeast for the fourth summit found off the main crest in that direction with a drop of about 300ft to a saddle. All along our route were cairns and small prospects indicating that miners had searched and scoured all the nooks and crannies in these hills, though few seem to have found much to get excited about. On the east side of the range, Peak 5,140ft has a good view of Amargosa Valley and the Bare Mtns across the Nevada state line in that direction. The south ridge we ascended had a small class 3 step (completely avoidable), the only such "difficulty" we'd encounter all day. We spent the last hour returning to the main crest and hiking west back to where we'd started near Chloride Cliff.
As it wasn't yet 12:30p, we found a few more bonus peaks to do on the drive out. Peak 5,020ft and Peak 4,900ft, about a mile apart, are found on the main crest about 2.5mi north of Chloride Cliff. We drove back down to the major junction for the CA & NV access roads, then down the CA side for half a mile to a gully we could use to most easily combine the two. This last hike would take about 1.5hrs to cover 3.5mi with something over 1,000ft of gain. The terrain continued to make for easy cross-country, intially following a shallow gully before climbing onto the South Ridge of Peak 5,020ft. After topping out we returned a short distance down the ridge before forking right to descend a different ridge more in line with Peak 4,900ft to the southeast. The last leg from Peak 4,900ft's summit took us southwest over Pt. 4,790ft and a few lesser points before dropping back down to where we'd left the truck around 2:30p. We could have added another peak or two on our way back out towards Daylight Pass Rd, but 11mi seemed good enough to call it day and break out the beers. The weather, having started with blue skies in the morning, had slowly changed throughout the day bringing the next storm system's high clouds over the area and portending of obvious change. Brian was torn whether to head west across Death Valley on SR190 or back out to US95, alternately making one plan and then another for much of the past few hours. I finally helped convince him to head east to the Bare Mtns so that I could buy him dinner at Dennys in Beatty. Afterwards we parted ways as I headed south on US95 towards Pahrump and Las Vegas where I was due the next day...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Chloride Cliff - Boundary BM
This page last updated: Sat Feb 18 19:52:55 2017
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