Frisco Peak P2K
North Wah Wah Mountains HP P2K
Mt. Hamilton P2K WSC
Fairview Peak P2K

Wed, Sep 11, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPX Profiles: 1 2


I was on my way home from a multi-week visit to Colorado, following SR21 across western Utah and US50 through most of Nevada. I was looking for mostly easy P2Ks I could tag along the way, finding four that fit the bill nicely. The combination stretched for 300mi across the two states with far more driving that actual hiking. Two, in fact, were complete drive-ups, no need to get out of the car at all. Still, I managed almost 4,000ft of gain in almost seven miles of hiking on the other two, so it wasn't a completely effortless day.

Frisco Peak

Frisco Peak is the highpoint of the San Francisco Mountains in Western Utah, topped by an array of telecom towers with a road reaching to the summit. An excellent dirt road runs for nine miles off SR21, southeast of the range, that can be driven by any vehicle. The road grows increasingly rough after this, the last three miles requiring high-clearance and perhaps 4WD in the steepest parts. I had driven to the summit the previous evening after sunset with a spectacular lightning storm lighting up the night sky. The storm had kept to the west of the range during the drive such that I had no rain at all, but it moved overhead shortly after I had bedded down for the night in the back of the jeep. I slept snuggly inside, smug in the knowledge that I was dry and warm while it was raining outside on and off, sometimes quite strongly. Rather than keeping me awake, the flashes of light and sounds of thunder seemed to help me drift more quickly off to sleep. In the morning the storm had ended but the sky remained mostly overcast as I got out to inspect my surroundings and take a few pictures. The storm kept the views mostly hazy and dark and there was really little to recommend of the summit with all the utility buildings and towers. The storm began clearing more as I was making my way back down the mountain, leaving partly cloudy skies for the rest of the day and clear skies by evening.

North Wah Wah Mountains HP

14mi to the west of the San Francisco Mtns, across Wah Wah Valley, rises the much larger (though lower) Wah Wah Mtns. The range has a pair of P2Ks, one to the north and one to the south of SR21. The northern P2K is only a few miles north of where SR21 goes over Wah Wah Summit and an old dirt road can be used to make the effort about 1.5mi each way, with about 2,000ft of gain. Hardly what can be considered a drive-up, but not all that much work either. High-clearance is needed for the extra mile of dirt road from the highway, but it's not much harder if one simply starts from the highway. Despite at least one TR on PB describing difficult bushwhacking, there were only a few places, all quite short, that had any sort of brushiness. Maybe this depends on your route-finding choices and I got lucky, so who knows. Most of the cross-country travel here is through open country dotted with junipers and is pretty easy at the start. On the ascent I headed in a NNW direction, aiming for a saddle on the SW Ridge that looked to avoid the cliffs on the more direct approach from the south. Once at this ridge, I found the ridgeline too steep and difficult, so I moved to the left (northwest) side of the ridgeline and made my way up through various breaks I could find. It turned out to be more difficult than the alternatives and I wouldn't recommend it to others, even if it had a few occasional sections of interesting scrambling. Clouds threatened to close in on me as I made my way up and the views would be marginal for the remainder of the hike. Once I reached the upper summit area, the gradient eased off and the scrambling turned to easy ridge walking as I made my way along it towards the summit, about 1/3mi further north. It took about an hour and ten minutes to reach the summit where I found a red can (probably courtesy Richard Carey) holding a register originally placed by MacLeod/Lilley in 2003. The sixteen pages of entries were almost all taken up by the usual prominence suspects, mine was the second entry from 2019. For the descent I decided to take the more usual, direct route off the south side which I found far easier. It was not hard to find a way down through the cliff band with some easy class 3 scrambling. The gullies held more brush than other places, so I simply moved out of these if I found myself working extra to get around stuff. The return took less than 50min, getting me back to the jeep by 9:40a.

Mt. Hamilton

I had done well to claim two P2Ks before 10a, but so far I hadn't done much driving towards California at all. Now seemed a good time to start. I ignored closer objectives as I drove into Nevada and past Great Basin NP on US50, finding Mt. Hamilton located in the center of the state. It's found south of US50 between Ely and Eureka, a fairly long drive from the highway. Dean Gaudet's driving track from PB was quite helpful, allowing me to use the eastern approach on the way in and northern approach on the way out, saving some extra miles. Most of the roads are in good condition that any car with moderate clearance can manage. Beyond an old mine site, the road grows narrower and rougher, with several forks that make it helpful to know where to go ahead of time since it wasn't obvious just from ground observations. I had high hopes that the jeep would allow me to drive further than others had managed, but came up short. I ignored the suggestion to park lower and endured some moderate to heavy brushwhacking. Eventually I found small aspens blocking portions of the road, possibly due to an avalanche back in the winter. Rather than futz with a handsaw cutting them back, I parked below where others had managed and hiked up from there, less than 4mi roundtrip and about 1,800ft of gain. I followed the remaining portion of road up to its end, then scrambled up the ridge to the main crest (called Pogonip Ridge) and the slightly lower north summit. From there it's an easy walk to the highpoint about half a mile away, along the class 1-2 ridgeline. I found some old-ish instruments on both summits, not sure if they're still being used. The highpoint had another busy register left in 1991. Gordon & Barbara were a few years late getting to this one, recording their own entry in 1993. I spent an hour and a half on the hike, returning by pretty much the same route. The road out to the north was better than the eastern approach, for what it's worth.

Fairview Peak

Several more hours got me further west along US50 where Fairview Peak is found about 25mi southeast of Fallon. This one is a drive-up, though the good road lasts only as far as the base of the mountain, after which high-clearance is needed and probably 4WD. It then becomes rough and steep as it climbs the east side of the mountain before following the ridgeline north to the summit at the far end. There are two other easy bonus summits on this ridge with more than 300ft of prominence and with more time I would undoubtedly have visited them. As it was nearing sunset and I didn't want to do the drive back down the mountain in the dark, I skipped them. The road leads to a collection of telecom towers and utility sheds with the highpoint easily accessible without the need to jump any fences. In hindsight, I probably could have added the bonus peaks and still gotten down before dark, but I think I was pretty tired by this time and hungry, too. I drove into Fallon where I got dinner and worked out a plan for a last summit before driving home in the morning. I then drove part of the way to Fernley before pulling over on quiet dirt spur to spend the night...


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For more information see these SummitPost pages: Frisco Peak - North Wah Wah Mountains HP - Mt. Hamilton - Fairview Peak

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