Monte Cristo Range HP P1K
Norman BM P900
Lone Mountain P2K DS / DPG

Tue, Apr 9, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profiles: 1 2 3


In West-Central Nevada to finish off the peaks listed in Andy Zdon's Desert Summits, I was ahead of schedule and had time for a bonus round. So I drove into the Monte Cristo Range north of US6/US95 to tackle a few easy summits including the range highpoint. I'd spent the night along the dirt route from the highway, far from road noise and rather quiet. In the morning I was up early to finish the drive while I ate breakfast.

Monte Cristo Range HP

I used David Porter's 2015 TR from PB for the driving directions, the roads in very good condition until the last mile or so. I had fun driving further than the track indicated, getting myself to within a mile of the summit with about 1,000ft of gain remaining. The terrain is open desert scrub with easy cross-country. I could see the summit from the start and picked out a line using the NW Ridge. Only the middle section of the hike was particularly steep with lots of talus in this section. The views from the top of the ridge are quite nice with a fine view of the snowy White Mtns to the southwest. There was a rock cairn, the remains of a wooden survey tower, a benchmark and a register dating to 1990, left by the dynamic duo of MacLeod/Lilley. There were ten pages of entries, most of the names recognizable from the usual crowd, with a few unknown local entries and the odd Canadian visitor. I chose to make a loop of the outing by descending the SW Ridge and then a subsidiary ridgeline descending northwest back to where I'd started. The whole outing took just about an hour.

Norman BM

This P900 lies 7mi to the southwest of the range HP. It took most of an hour to drive from one end of the range to other, with a good dirt road getting me within a mile of the summit to the north. With only 500ft of gain, this was an easier effort than the last and I took only 25min to find my way to the rocky summit. I did not find the benchmark on this one, likely buried under one of several rock piles found at the highpoint. Richard Carey had left a register here in 2013, with Brian French the most recent visitor a year ago. It was not long after 9a when I finished, leaving me plenty of time for the day's main event.

Lone Mountain

As the name suggests, the peak rises in a standalone fashion, reaching to more than 9,000ft. It is found on the south side of US6/US95, west of Tonopah. There are several ways to reach Springdale Canyon on the east side of the peak which provides the shortest climbing route. I used a lesser road called Miller's Cutoff, heading south from US6/US95 for 5mi. It then intersects the main road heading southwest to Springdale Canyon. Some wild horses grazing in the scrub added to the scene as I approached the mountain. I could see significant snow on the upper part, and since my final ascent would go up the north side, I decided it would be prudent to carry the snowshoes. I was able to drive the road to the very end, the last part pretty rocky and not really gaining much for the trouble, but great fun in the jeep. I was a little less than 2mi from the peak when I started out just after 11a. The route goes south/southwest cross-country up the main drainage of the canyon. One can climb out of the drainage earlier to the south up steeper slopes for a slightly shorter route, but this would have entailed more snow travel today. I stayed in the main drainage (mostly class 2 with some easy class 3 in places) until I was finding it choked with snow, then moved out to the right on snow-free slopes to stay out of the white stuff until it was necessary. I reached a saddle on the north side about 400ft below the summit, finding the snow coverage almost continuous now. Because temperatures had not fallen below freezing for several days, the snow was soft and slushy - time for the snowshoes. It took 20min to complete this last steep part with the snowshoes, ditching them before hiking the final short distance to the highpoint where I arrived at 1:30p. Barbara and Gordon had left a register here in 1987, with more than 30 pages of entries over the past three decades. The wind was blowing strongly over the summit, leaving me chilled even with fleece, balaclava and gloves. On the way back down I kept the snowshoes on for a longer distance, this time staying on the snowy south side of the drainage until the snow ran out lower down. I was back to the jeep by 3p and decided to call it a day even though there were still four hours of daylight. I spent more than an hour driving back out of Springdale Canyon and then on to Tonopah where I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, and catching up online with BK's free wifi in town. Later, as the sun was getting ready to set, I headed south out of town for more than an hour before stopping to camp off US95 near where I planned to start hiking the next day. With Lone Mountain finished, I had just one peak left in Zdon's book - Nevares Peak - and it was in that direction that I was headed...


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