Gass Peak P2K DS / RS
Quartzite Mountain P750 GBP / RS

Sun, Apr 22, 2018
Quartzite Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2


Weather was a bit warm today in Las Vegas - end of April isn't an ideal time to be visiting Sin City, to be sure. Today's outings were accompanied by a lot of dirt road driving (more gravel than dirt, really) to the north of town. After dropping my wife off at the Convention Center in the early morning, I headed north on US95 and then out on Corn Spring Rd into the Desert National Wildlife Range. Mormon Well Road forks off from Alamo Rd shortly past the Visitor Center, then some miles later I took a right fork on Gass Peak Rd. It wasn't until after 8:30a that I had reached the TH for Gass Peak.

Gass Peak

Others have reported driving partly up this rougher road that now serves as a trail, but it is now closed to the public and signed as a "Service Road". Not sure what is being serviced as the road only goes about a third of the way to the summit and there are no facilities anywhere along the road. I spent half an hour hiking the road while wishing I could drive it as it was already getting warm - 70F and rising. From where the road ends atop a final steep section, a very good use trail continues along the connecting ridgelines all the way to the summit - no cross-country, no route-finding issues on this one. There is a small solar-powered telecom installation just below the highpoint, mostly microwave relays from the looks of it. There is a benchmark and a very busy register - too many pages to bother photographing, only going back a few years. The views overlooking Las Vegas were rather hazy and muted today, but there were clearer views in other directions, commensurate with its P2K status. On my way back down the trail I passed by a couple of hikers on their way up - busy peak, indeed.

Quartzite Mountain

Back at the Gass Peak TH by 11:40a, I contemplated what to do next. There is a shorter route to Quartzite Mtn from the north off Mormon Well Rd which I had planned to use, but I really didn't want to do an additional 20mi+ of driving on these road. I decided to continue on the Gass Spring Rd a few more miles to the Quail Spring TH and possibly hike to Quartzite from there where the continuing road is closed to vehicle traffic. I knew there were at least two more miles of road, but at the TH I was almost five miles as the crow flies from Quartzite and with the warm temps I wasn't feeling up to much cross-country. As a backup, there was an unnamed summit just north of the road (Peak 6,610ft) after the first two miles, which I would do if the road didn't continue. Turns out, it does - going 4.5mi to a saddle only a mile from Quartzite Mtn, and it would do nicely. "Nicely" might be a bit generous because the road/trail is mostly a gravel/sand wash that can be pretty tedious in warm weather and tough on the feet. Motorcycles have gotten around the barriers at the TH and keep the road/trail serviceable, but the nicest thing I could say about it was at least there was no brush to contend with. After climbing almost 1,500ft along the road, I paused in the shade of the juniper forest growing at the higher elevations and took a needed rest while guzzling some Gatorade.

After my break, I left the road at its highpoint and headed east up a ridgeline to the main crest, finding the cross-country fairly brush-free and actually enjoyable - the footing was better than the road/wash and a breeze was blowing as I neared the crest to provide some needed cooling. I went by the lower (by 5ft) south summit on my way to the slightly higher north summit where I found a Greg Vernon register left in 2012. There were 13 pages of entries all told, a more popular peak than I would have guessed. Perhaps it's due to its inclusion on the Sierra Club's Great Basin Peak List. I followed a more direct route down from the summit that intersected the road/trail half a mile further north from the saddle where I'd first turned off, but only about 100ft lower in elevation. Once back to the road, I would spend most of the next two hours hiking back to the TH, finishing just before 4:40p. There were still almost three hours of daylight, but I would use half of this up driving back to the highway and besides - my feet and I had had enough of the warm weather today...


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