Black Mesa P300 RS
Blowing Peak P300 RS
Knife Peak P500 RS
Peak 2,526ft
Slabs Peak P500 RS
Little Piute Mountains HP P500

Sun, Dec 2, 2018
Black Mesa
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 3 Profile

I had spent the night camped off US95 between Searchlight and Henderson, NV. In the morning I was up early, driving to Henderson to pick up a few supplies and top off with gas, then headed east into the Lake Mead NRA for some peaks described in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. My day started off well enough, tagging five summits before my routine was interrupted by a Snapchat message. This starting a 175mi detour back to California to rescue a couple of stranded friends. Afterwards, I decided to tag the highpoint of the Little Piute Mtns, a range highpoint I hadn't planned on during this trip, but was happy to do while in the area.

Black Mesa

This is the first peak encountered while heading east on Northshore Rd, on the south side of the highway. A paved spur road forks south to Callville Bay and I used this to get a bit closer, parking just off the road where it goes over a small pass east of Black Mesa. From there its a steep but short scramble up to the mesa, across a tortoise fence, then a long-ish slog (3/4mi) over tedious volcanic boulders that make one pay attention to every foot placement - a good way to study the raw earth up close, I suppose. The summit has a cairn with the remains of a survey tower. Nice view overlooking Lake Mead to the south, though still quite a few miles distant.

Blowing Peak

Found two miles northeast of Black Mesa, also on the south side of Northshore Rd, this summit is a short hike about 2/3mi each way. The maps show a parking area that could get one a bit closer, but this was gated and seems to be a road maintenance yard with piles of gravel and rock. I simply parked at the locked gate and went up and down from there. One of the least inspiring peaks in the area, I thought.

Knife Peak/Peak 2,526ft/Slabs Peak

Located about 2mi north of Blowing Peak on the north side of the highway, these were all interesting peaks with some fun scrambling along knife-edged ridgelines. I drove in on West End Wash Rd, a gavel/sand road that goes north into the Gale Hills. I parked just before the road goes between Knife and Slabs Peaks, heading to Knife Peak first. I hiked above a west-trending wash on its north side, angling northwest as I got nearer the peak. Steep scrambling leads to the ridgeline with some class 3 scrambling to the fine summit. An LVMC party had left a register here a year earlier, mine was the only other entry. I turned east to follow the ridgeline to Peak 2,526ft, the slightly lower east summit of Knife Peak. This had the best scrambling of the day along the knife-edged ridgeline between the two peaks, separated by 1/3mi. After reaching the second summit, I dropped back down to West End Wash, spoke briefly with a pair of euro-camper folks hanging out in the wash, then began ascending Slabs Peak to the east. More steep scrambling on more limestone rock was mostly enjoyable. I startled a group of eight bighorn rams, and then another group of six higher up. They ran off initially, then pausedtook off for other parts of the mountain, not to be seen again. Once on the ridge, there was another long section of decent scrambling to the summit.

I started down the SE side of Slabs Peak, intending to tag Knob Peak, less than a mile to the southeast. Halfway down I received a Snapschat from Iris, showing that her and Tom had been stranded at the Clipper Mtn TH near I-40. After a short chat discussion, it looked like I was their best option for rescue, so I cancelled Knob Peak and headed back to the jeep. Then began a three hour drive back to California to provide a jump start for their jeep's dead battery. Seems Tom needs to do a little debugging to find out why his battery is draining too easily. This wasn't the first time he's had a dead battery in the desert this year, but it was the first time he didn't have another vehicle readily available. After 10min's effort, we had Tom's engine running once again and we headed back out to the Interstate.

Little Piute Mtns HP

While Tom and Iris headed home, I decided I should have enough time to visit the highpoint of the Little Piute Mountains, about 20mi southeast of the Clipper Mtns. I drove east on I-40, exiting at Water Rd. Then about 16mi of gravel/sand driving got me within a mile of the Little Piute Mtns on the north side. It was just after 4p when I started up, chasing the setting sun that went down about 15min after I'd begun. Keeping a strong pace, I made good time over easy terrain to reach the summit in less than 25min. There was a cairn and wooden scraps from a survey tower, plus a register dating to 1994. I was surprised that it had some 27 pages of entries for such an obscure summit. I photographed the lot of them, then beat a hasty retreat back down the mountain so I could get back before needing a headlamp. I took a cold shower upon my return, then began the return drive to Nevada. Not exactly how I had planned for the day to go, but I had great fun nonetheless...


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