Fri, Apr 1, 2022
||Story||Photos / Slideshow||Maps: 1 2||GPX||Profiles: 1 2|
I was due at the Las Vegas airport to pick up my wife in the afternoon, leaving me the morning and the early afternoon for a couple of peaks. Both made for decent scrambles on volcanic rock that I found enjoyable. Both can be found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles.
I was interested in finding a shorter route back on the return. Stav Basis had found a way off the north side, but that was better suited to the bigger outing he was doing that day and would not be shorter for my return to the east side. A quicker route might be found directly off the southwest side of North Castle to bypass the intermediate point and the saddle on the main crest. I studied this gully from every vantage I could as I left North Castle's summit, but I could not see a way through the lower cliffs, and decided against it in the end. So I returned back the way I had come through the various cliffs and slots, eventually working my way back to the east side where I could see the preferred shortcut from below. It looks like it ought to be possible after getting a better look and I wish I had taken the time to explore it on the way up. If nothing else, it looks to have some find scrambling, but I'll have to leave it to some future explorer to work out the feasibility of it. After working my way down to the road and the wash system, I finally found my way back to the Jeep by 10a.
This is an unusual mountain in that the fun scrambling all comes at the beginning, followed by mellower terrain to the summit, the opposite of the usual order of things. The trailhead is most often used by those investigating the slot canyon which can only be hiked a short distance before a 60-foot smooth dryfall is encountered. The topo map shows this as Keyhole Canyon Archeological Site, but I saw no petroglyphs when I checked out the slot canyon. It was only upon my return from Keyhole Peak that I discovered the petroglyphs just above the wash at the beginning of the Northwest Ridge route that I followed in both directions. The volcanic rock is wonderfully shaped with curves, slabs, cracks and all sorts of fun scrambling, starting right out of the parking area. As Purcell describes, it is class 3-4 if you stay right on the ridge with easier class 3 options usually found on the right side. There is an airy view looking off the left side of the ridge into the deep gorge that opens to easier terrain above. The summit was further back than I had imagined it to be and the route more involved. After the last of the scrambling portions, there is a short descent to an upper bowl, then across this and a class 2 climb to reach the summit ridge. The highpoint is found yet further south along this ridge. In all, I spent an hour and 20min to reach the highpoint. Kevin Humes had left a register here in 2015, with a handful of other entries since, most in the last two years. The higher Opal BM rises to the east about a mile and a quarter away and would make for a nice outing if I'd had more time. There are telecom towers atop Opal BM and the service road can be driven from the south nearly to the summit, so perhaps I'll use that easier route at some future time. I returned back via much the same route, discovered the petroglyphs I'd missed earlier, investigated the slot canyon, and returned to the Jeep shortly after 1:30p. With my wife's plane due around 3:30p, I would have plenty of time to clean myself and the Jeep up, then get to the airport in time for her arrival...
This page last updated: Sat Apr 30 17:24:14 2022
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org