Emigrant BM P500
Peak 4,937ft P500
Luceil BM P500

Nov 11, 2021

With: Chris Kerth
Iris Ma
Karl Fieberling
Tom Grundy
Kristine Swigart

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


I inadvertently deleted the gpx track over the first two peaks through incompetence. The map is thus a swag at the route we took, but is not the usual gpx track I prefer.

A group of six of us had convened at Emigrant Pass near Tecopa for the first desert trip of the season. I'd spent the first two days with Tom in Nevada, but today we had a full complement. We had intended to camp at a nice overlook just above the pass, but the BLM has recently installed fencing and dug up portions of the spur road to make this unviable. Instead, we had spent the night a few hundred yards further north at a rougher spur road that leads to a marginal clearing where we could park four vehicles. Not great, but it worked. In the morning I was up early to be sure I was near the original meeting spot where Chris would join us shortly.

Emigrant BM - Peak 4,937ft

Our goal today was a traverse of the southern half of the Nopah Range north of Emigrant Pass. The last summit on this traverse was Old Spanish Mtn, a summit I had visited three years earlier, so I planned to skip that one. Iris and Karl would also cut the outing short. Anticipating this, we left my Jeep along Old Spanish Trail Hwy southeast of the second peak. We then took two vehicles about 6mi further north on the hwy until we were east of the first peak, and started the hike from there at 6:45a.

Chris had been the one to suggest this hike and I came along without doing much research, other than to gauge the mileage and elevation gain. Chris directed us to an old road following a fenceline, now in the Nopah Range Wilderness, that we could use for the first hour's long walk across the desert flats. Heading west, the road only roughly went in the right direction, leaving us to forfeit the road for a cross-country section across the broad wash system near the end. We spent an hour to reach the base of a subsidiary ridge that we could follow up to Emigrant BM's East Ridge. This spur ridge proved more challenging than expected and wholey unnecessary too, as we did some class 3 scrambling along a knife-edged section that resulted in spicy downclimb at the end. We waved Karl around this section, managed by dropping down on the north side of the fin to easier ground. There was another short class 3 downclimb once on the East Ridge, but this was easier, and the rest of the ridge goes at class 2. Chris was the first to arrive around 9:15a, about 2.5hrs after starting out.

The highpoint is found about 20ft north of the benchmark, next to a juniper bush doing its best to survive in a harsh climate. The benchmark was buried under a pile of rocks, but Kristine tenaciously dug them out to reveal the round metal marker in all its glory. Mark Adrian had left a register here in 2000, with only two other parties signing it since then. Chris had big ambitions to get a few other peaks after the first three, so we let him loose to continue on the main crest at a faster pace. Kristine and Tom, planning to go over Old Spanish Mtn, took off at a slightly slower pace ahead the three of us that remained. Upon starting out again, we followed the main crest of the range more casually over the next two hours. There were several intermediate points to go over, and we could pick out Kristine and Tom ahead of us going over these bumps ahead of us. Where the ridge turns southwest to descend to a saddle northeast of Peak 4,937ft, we encountered a steep descent over loose rock that slowed Iris and her recovering knee considerably. It was the one thing she dreaded most and asked us to avoid, and here we had delivered a half mile-long section of this awful stuff. It eventually relented with easier slopes in the lower reaches, but she was getting worn out. Karl and Iris decided to forgo the ascent of the second summit though we were within a quarter mile - with more than 500ft of gain, it also looked to have a difficult exit where the top is cliffy. Instead, they chose to descend the easier slope from the saddle down a sandy wash to the southeast that they could take back to the highway. We could see Tom and Kristine atop Peak 4,937ft, watching and waving to us from above, perhaps wondering why we hung about the saddle for so long. I bade Karl and Iris goodbye as they turned left and started down, leaving me at the saddle. On my own, I continued up to Peak 4,937ft, finding it easier than it had looked, thanks to convenient sheep trails that took one around the right side of the direct route, up class 2-3 terrain. The final move was a 6-foot wall that took some extra effort and mantling, but brought me right to the top. Kristine and Tom had already moved on and were out of sight, on their way to Old Spanish Mtn. Mark Adrian had left a register here in 2020, 20yrs after the previous one - a pretty impressive gap. To no real surprise, ours were the only other entries.

I chose to descent the SE Ridge, a longish, easy-enough ridge that allowed me to keep tabs on Karl and Iris in the wash below to the left. Though 800ft below me, I could periodically hear their voices carry up from below, though I couldn't hear what they were saying. I was trying to keep up a comparable pace so that I could meet them at the toe of the ridge, but their sandy wash made for much easier travel than the rocky ridgeline I followed. They were well ahead when I finally reached flatter ground below, and had disappeared behind a small rise in front of me. I went around this rise to the right and dropped further to the desert floor, with a few more miles to get back to the roadway. The others had stopped for a break allowing me to get ahead of them - they had not seen me while I was on the ridge or on the flats until they decided to stop for a snack. I continued at a slow pace to allow them to catch up to me. We couldn't see the Jeep on the roadway though we could plainly see various vehicles driving one way or the other along it. It wasn't until we were within a quarter mile that we could see it - I had parked it at an odd angle that had its back to us, the black top doing a good job of keeping it from view. It was shortly after 2p when we ended the outing back at the Jeep.

Luceil BM

We drove back north to retrieve the two vehicles we'd started from in the morning. I wasn't quite done and wanted to climb this last summit a few miles further north. While Iris and Karl drove back to Emigrant Pass, I found my way to the base of Luceil BM on the south side. It would be a short climb of less than 1/3mi, but with more than 500ft of prominence, it would go steeply. It took barely 15min to find my way up the grippy limestone, class 2 the whole way. The benchmark was buried under a pile of rocks with a survey post, and without Kristine, it would remain buried. I did take a photo of one of the reference marks for consolation. Adrian had left a register here, too, back in 2018. This one had a handful of other entries, thanks to its close proximity to the roadway. After returning back down the ridgeline to the Jeep, I took a shower and changed into some fresh clothes before rejoining the others back at Emigrant Pass.

I found the whole group save Chris at the pass. Tom and Kristine had arrived only minutes earlier. We hung around long enough to enjoy a beer and freshen up before heading to SR127 to meet back up with Chris and find a new place to camp. Chris ended up climbing Noon BM and and a bonus on the way, for five peaks on the day - a good haul...


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