McLain BM P300
Peak 3,795ft P300
Peak 3,113ft P300

Nov 12, 2021

With: Chris Kerth
Iris Ma
Karl Fieberling
Tom Grundy
Kristine Swigart

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profiles: 1 2


Today our group of six was in the Ibex Hills on the SE edge of Death Valley. There is a string of peaks running south-north across the main crest in 9-10mi that was the main focus. I had already done two of the middle summits, Ibex and Sheephead, but was happy to do just the outside ones and help facilitate the car shuttle. The plan called for us to drive the two Jeeps to the start at the south end and climb to McLain BM, then have Iris and I drive them to the north end where we would do the two easier peaks and wait for the others to arrive.

McLain BM

We used the same approach to McLain BM from the NE that Candace Skalet had used a month earlier. We took the Jeeps to the defunct Eclipse Mine, parking where a berm across the road was erected to keep vehicles out. While the continuing road is not in the Ibex Wilderness, driving further is done at some peril. We started up the remaining road on foot not long after 7a, following it to its end and then south where we encountered some loose, crappy slopes that were no friend to Iris's recovering knee. On the descent we found the much easier route that Candace had used and would recommend it for future parties. Once we had gotten above the old mine, the going gets easier as we headed southwest and then west towards our summit. It was a pleasant enough ramble, with views opening to the east and southeast, taking us about an hour and a quarter to reach the summit of McLain BM. McLeod and Lilley had left a register here in 1985, now totaling 11 pages of entries. Many of these ascents are due to the peak's inclusion in Ron Bartell's DV list which features many of the benchmarks sprinkled throughout the park. After our break, four of our party continued north to Ibex Peak, about 4mi along the crest, while Iris and I headed back to the Jeeps. We appreciated the easier route down the gully near the end, getting us back to the vehicles by 10:30a.

Peak 3,795ft - Peak 3,113ft

We drove back down to our campsite at the junction with SR127 so Iris could grab some things to take a shower and relax with while we waited for the others later. We had some trouble starting Chris's Jeep, so we swapped vehicles to let me see if I could understand the trouble better. While I had no better idea what was wrong after driving it through Shoshone and around to the north side of the range on SR178, at least it made it there. It would continue to offer trouble to Chris the rest of the trip, but he made it home without getting stranded. It was almost noon before Iris and I were ready to head out to Peak 3,795ft. Both summits can be seen from the highway, not more than half a mile from the pavement. Iris wasn't keen on doing both peaks, but chose the harder, more interesting-looking Peak 3,795ft. Our route from the north was a fun mix of cruising and scrambling, with a short, annoying bit of loose traversing to get around a difficult point just northwest of the summit. We spent just under an hour and a half to reach the rocky highpoint. With cell service at the summit, we learned that Karl and Kristine had decided to forgo the last two summits and chose to descend Sheephead to SR127 at Salsberry Pass. Tom and Chris were continuing to our summit. We could just see them leaving Sheephead about a mile to the south, and expected it would take them some time to negotiate the non-trivial ridgeline inbetween. After leaving a register, Iris and I parted ways. She went down a gully to the west that would take her to the highway more easily, while I headed down one on the northeast side that would take me to Peak 3,113ft more directly. It would take about 50min to get between the two summits, the descent route somewhat tedious but uneventful, then easier ground and a steep but short climb up Peak 3,113ft from the south. Mark Adrian had visited this summit back in April, leaving a register that I was obliged to add my name to (why else would we climb these?). Looking back, I saw no sign of Chris and Tom atop Peak 3,795ft. Turning north, I could see the vehicles where we left them on the roadway. It took just over 15min to make the easy descent off that side of Peak 3,113ft. Iris was making her way back to the Jeeps along the roadway, arriving only a few minutes after me, around 2:45p.

I drove up towards Emigrant Pass, finding Karl and Kristine hiking the road below the pass. I gave them a ride back to the other Jeep where we sat around having beers and snacks while waiting for the last two. It would be another 45-60min before they arrived, tired but satisfied. A good day all around for everyone...


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