Granite Peak P2K WSC / GBP
Peak 8,580ft P500
Hinkey Summit

Sun, Jun 6, 2010

With: Matthew Holliman
Adam Jantz

Granite Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profile


Adam and I were on the last day of a nine-day tour around Central Nevada. We'd climbed something every day despite a vehicle breakdown that sent Adam's Ford Escape to the repair shop for a couple days. It had been a successful trip, covering most of the peaks we had planned beforehand. Today's summit was rather easy, the highpoint of Humboldt County, a good choice since we had 6-7 hours of driving to do later in the day to get home. Matthew had joined us for the weekend, primarily to do Ruby Dome the previous day, but was happy to come along for this one as well.

Granite Peak is the highpoint of the Santa Rosa Range in the North-Central part of the state. Getting there from Pleasant Valley is not difficult on a decent dirt road that winds its way up to Hinkey Summit, though I wouldn't take an ordinary passenger car. From Hinkey Summit Granite Peak is less than 2,000ft and little more than 2 miles distance. We tried driving further west towards the peak from Hinkey Summit, only to discover the limitations of Subaru's All-Wheel Drive. Matthew's Forester got stuck while trying to turn around on the narrow road, and much to our surprise it sat there with one wheel spinning in the loose dirt and the others pretty much holding the car in place. Aren't the other wheels supposed to engage when one starts to slip? Adam scoffed at our mechanical query as if the answer should have been more apparent - an "obviously the Subaru is a piece of shit", sort of answer. Of course his Ford Escape had no such problems. "REAL 4WD", as he would comment several times, with a smile.

We managed to extract Matthew's car from it's predicament, parked both vehicles (snow blocked the road anyway, so we couldn't get further in either car), and started up the road around 6:30a. Some small gray clouds hung around the main crest much of the morning, but they were of no serious import. There was a nice view of Granite's NE Face as we strolled atop a grassy plateau on our way towards the peak. Old fences lined various parts of the terrain including the ridgeline we were following. Grazing was still very much a part of the landscape. We skirted a lower bump on its northern side, then made our way up the increasingly rocky ridge towards the summit. I opted for what I thought was an easier ascent on the south side of the ridge while Adam and Matthew tackled the ridge more directly. Neither route seemed to offer obvious advantages over the other. Most of the route was class 1-2 with what might be called a slight bit of class 3 just before the summit.

It was 7:45a when we landed atop the summit, amid more clouds than we'd seen all morning. So much for the expansive views. A plastic bag held a soggy register in a mounted steel box whose lid was sorely missing. We did not try to open the sopping mess. Next to the steel box were several solar-powered antennae occupying their own small patches of summit turf. A short distance away to the southwest was the highpoint where a USGS benchmark was located and a more modest register in telescoping tin cans. This one was nicely dry, placed in 2004 by Pete Yamagata. We signed in, as all good peakbaggers do, returning it to its containers when we were done. We hung around the summit waiting for a few moments of clear sky to snap some photos of the surrounding terrain, but it was never satisfactory.

We headed back down via the same route, across the snow and rocks, along the fences and roads, back to our cars. We drove only as far as the 4-H building at Hinkey Summit from where we planned to hike to the bonus peak on the arched hole in the rock found west of Hinkey benchmark. Our fifteen minute detour added little to the difficulty of reaching Peak 8,560ft, and before 10a we were atop the summit.

There we found a register placed by MacLeod/Lilley in 2000. There were only about seven pages that had been used by a handful of other hikers. We found another register on our search for the Hinkey benchmark, also placed by MacLeod/Lilley on the same date (they must have carried dozens of registers in their car when out on their desert road trips). It had even fewer signatures than the first one. We were somewhat disappointed in not finding the actual benchmark. We found wooden stakes and steel pipes that may have been part of a survey rig at some point, but not the round benchmark we'd expected. We followed along the ridge back towards our cars, looking to see if we could spot the benchmark elsewhere, but no luck.

By 10:30a we were back at the vehicles and done for the day, somewhat pathetically. It would have been nice to also climb Santa Rosa Peak at the south end of the range, but that was a bigger undertaking, involving some 4,000ft of gain by the easiest route - we'd have to save that for another time. Adam and I made plans to do the drive-up to Virginia Peak back in Reno on our way back, but somehow we misconnected on the meeting place off I-80 and never managed it. These are the times when I have to admit having a cell phone could be handy. Thus, ingloriously ended our 9 day stint and we drove home our separate ways. Until next time...

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