Manganese Peak P750 RS
Manganese Southwest P300
Stock Ridge RS
Peak 2,674ft P300 RS
Pellet Peak P300 RS
White Basin Overlook P1K RS

Wed, Dec 5, 2018
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profiles: 1 2 3 4


My last day in Lake Mead NRA had me camped at the highpoint along the dirt Boathouse Cove Rd, south of Northshore Rd. It was a quiet location off the main road, near where I planned to hike the next morning. Once again, the peaks were selected from Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles, a collection of more than 900 summits around the greater Las Vegas desert regions. I've been plugging away at these rather slowly over the years as there's far too many to do quickly. I couldn't even manage to get all the peaks in this small area over the past three days as there's so many to choose from. I'd already made one pass along Northshore Rd back in February and I'm sure there'll be a few more in the future.

Manganese Peak/Manganese Southwest

Manganese Peak is the highpoint of the Jimbilnan Wilderness with almost 800ft of prominence. Manganese Southwest is a lower, but still worthwhile summit half a mile from Manganese, though it does not appear in Purcell's guidebook. The two are separated by a deep wash descending southeast into Lake Mead. I parked off Boathouse Cove Rd right where it crosses this wash, about 0.6mi from both summits. Though I combined them in one hike, they are almost two separate hikes since one has to drop down to the wash between them. I headed up to Manganese Peak first, climbing one ridgeline heading northeast up from the wash, then onto the NNW Ridge, a good class 2-3 effort. The summit has fine views overlooking Lake Mead less than 2mi away, though overcast weather today muted most of the day's photos. The register, dating from 2010, had more entries than I would have guessed. When I saw the likes of Vitz and Sumner in it I was a little puzzled until I realized it was a Wilderness HP. I got this one without even realizing it. I descended a steep gully dropping to the northwest before curving west to drop into the main wash. This had some class 3 drops along the way, a good bit of fun. Near the bottom I came across a small weather instrument that had been sent aloft via balloons back in September from Las Vegas. I had its own postage-paid bag for mailing it back to NOA. This is the second time I've come across one of these. I crossed the wash and climbed Manganese Southwest from the northeast side, bypassing a false summit around its north side and eventually getting to a ridge that led nicely to a saddle on the west side, and from there up a short distance to the summit. It, too, had a register, but only three entries in six years. For the descent, I headed down a ridgeline to the northwest, then turning northeast to drop me down to the road very close to the jeep. I covered almost 3mi and 1,700ft of gain in just over 2hrs' time.

Stock Ridge

This summit is about a mile northeast of Manganese. I moved the jeep about the same distance along the road, starting off about 0.6mi from the summit. I went up one drainage and down another in a small loop, summiting the peak from a high notch on the west side, class 3. Easier options can be found on the south side of the peak. Lower to the northwest are a collection of interesting pinnacles Purcell describes as a fun bit of scrambling. I let them be since I didn't have an audience to entertain.

Peak 2,674ft/Pellet Peak

These two made for an enjoyable combination. Located a couple of miles north of Stock Ridge, I moved the jeep once again, starting off from the west for Peak 2,674ft first. I headed up a wide drainage where I found a series of excellent sheep trails that took me within a few hundred feet of the summit - nice! After summiting, I then backtracked a short distance before turning northwest to follow a sometimes indistinct ridgeline connecting the two summits. Not such good sheep trails on this leg, but it's easy class 2 for the most part. The SW Ridge of Pellet Peak is rugged and class 3 if you stick to the ridge proper, but one can bypass this if desired on one side or the other. After summiting Pellet Peak, I dropped down a steep gully on the west side before turning southwest once off the mountain to follow a direct line back to where I'd parked. I covered three and a quarter miles in less than two hours - not much elevation gain on this one.

White Basin Overlook

This P1K is located north of the NRA, in the Muddy Mountains between Valley of Fire State Park and the NRA. There is a 26 mile-long Backcountry Byway passing through White Basin between Northshore Rd and Valley of Fire Rd. I drove the entire length of this sometimes rough route, chewing up hours of daylight. It took me two hours to drive the first 18mi and get me within a mile of White Basin Overlook where I started up just after 2:30p. I had hoped to combine this with nearby Buffington Peak, but I was worried about running out of daylight and having to negotiate steep limestone slopes in the dark. The scramble involved 1,000ft of gain over the course of a mile, most of this in the initial half mile up from where I'd parked. There was a fair amount of class 3 limestone scrambling until I reached the summit ridgeline where difficulties eased considerably. There was a bit more class 3 just before reaching the summit from the north. A register here in a broken plastic container showed I was only the third visitor in eleven years - not bad. Purcell was among the last to sign the register before I arrived. Not wanting to give up on Buffington Peak just yet, I followed the connecting ridgeline to the saddle between the two. Here I decided the remaining half mile of ridgeline looked to be slow-going and might make for a return in the dark. I played it safe and descended down from the saddle, a steep gully that had a few surprises and made me glad with my decision to forgo Buffington - it would be there for another visit.

I showered where I'd parked in the remaining daylight, the overcast skies making things even darker than they'd be otherwise. I then drove the remaining 7 miles or so of the byway to reach Valley of Fire Rd where I decided to spend the night. I'll have to look for some peaks to do in the state park for tomorrow...


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