Johnnie Range HP P1K
Peak 3,986ft P300
Last Chance Range HP P1K

Sun, Nov 12, 2023

With: Iris Ma
Tom Grundy

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profiles: 1 2


Our last day in the Pahrump area saw us going after the remaining two P1Ks that we hadn't gotten to so far. We were camped north of town on the west side of SR160. I would be heading home at the end of the day while my companions would hang around the area for another day before Iris had to catch a plan out of Las Vegas.

Johnnie Range

The Johnnie Range is named for the (very) small community of Johnnie found along SR160 about 15mi north of Pahrump. Unlike the other peaks in the area we'd visited the last three days, the Johnnie Range is mostly rounded hills that make for easy rambling. One would have to work hard to find any class 3. We borrowed Adam Walker's track from PB for the approach from the south for the range HP. He had found a little-used road that gets one closer than the main BLM road that runs down the middle of the large drainage. We managed to drive the same spur road even further, cutting another half mile off and making this easier still. We were a little over a mile SSE of the highpoint when we started out shortly after 7:30a and made our way onto the ridge directly north of us. This wasn't the direct South Ridge that Adam had used to reach the peak, but another one to the east. We followed it up to the main crest of the range, then turned left for the last short stretch to the summit, taking about 45min. John Vitz had left a register in 1998, the oldest one we'd found over four days. Mark Adrian had visited a year later, and then Barbara and Gordon in 2000. Most of the entries in the four pages were since 2017.

We next turned southwest to follow the connecting ridgeline to Peak 3,986ft for about 1.5mi, a delightful exercise in mostly easy hiking. traversed around several intermediate bumps, using sheep trails where we could to make things easier. It would take around an hour to get between the two summits. Peak 3,986ft's summit had a cairn but no register, so we left one while we took a nice break. We didn't really know the best way to return to the Jeep, and our track shows as much. We started by reversing more than half the ridgeline back towards the range HP before I decided to steer our party onto a more direct return. We went down a ridge west of the South Ridge, then skirted around the toe of the South Ridge, and then more traversing into the drainage in which the Jeep was parked. Future parties are advised to find a better way back. Tom found an old pickaxe on the crest during our return (somehow we missed it on the way to Peak 3,986ft) and played around with it some before deciding to pack it up and bring it back for a souvenier. Maybe it will become the centerpiece of Tom's Old West Museum that he plans to develop back in Bishop. We spent about 3.5hrs on effort for the two summits.

Last Chance Range HP

This range lies south of the Johnnie Range, across the drainage and road we'd driven in on. Tom had been to the highpoint a year earlier, while I had been to the two eastern summits in the range back in 2017. Iris had been to none of them. Tom was gracious to consent to climbing the highpoint again, and after driving the Jeep back down to the main BLM road, we parked and set off around 11:30a towards the southeast. Our route was almost identical to Adam Walker's track from 2021, hiking first about a mile across desert flats, then hopping onto a ridge leading almost directly to the summit. There were minor cliff bands, a false summit, and near the top some traversing to get around the serrated summit ridge, but almost all class 2 with maybe a few moves of class 3. Still, it was almost two miles from the Jeep and would take us an hour and three quarters to reach the summit. The Vitz register from 1998 started nearly identical to the one from the Johnnie Range, with entries from Adrian, Lilley, and Gordon, but with eight pages now, has proved even more popular than the Johnnie Range HP. There was also an older scrap from 1986, mostly unreadable. We had a longish break here, including summit cookies and the ever-popular Fireball Cinnamon Whisky that isn't actually whisky. I suggested Tom and Iris might continue along the crest to North Last Chance, about a mile to the NE. The ridge looked a bit rough, but doable. Iris decided to return with me while Tom took the chance to tag another summit, and we parted ways at the highpoint.

Iris and I reversed the route we'd taken on ascent, finding it probably the easiest route available. It would take us just about as long to get down as it did up, thanks to our flagging energies, and it would be 3:30p before we returned to the Jeep. We drove back east towards the highway, driving slowly when we we were northwest of North Last Chance, scouring the slopes for signs of movement. This went on for about five minutes until we were at the mouth of the drainage emptying due north of the summit, where Tom reached the roadway only 10 seconds before we reached that point - excellent timing! We drove back to camp and said our goodbyes. I drove a short distance further to take a shower, then begin the long drive back to San Jose.

I wouldn't make it back to San Jose tonight, but I did manage to drive across Death Valley National Park and as far as Jawbone Canyon along SR14 in California. I would drive the remaining distance home in the morning after unsuccessfully trying to reach some peaks up Jawbone Canyon that are now closed due to windmill operations - grrr...

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