Ibex Dunes HP
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I was in the southeast corner of Death Valley NP, which is occupied by the southernmost part of the Ibex Hills to the west, the Saddle Peak Hills to the east, and the Ibex Dunes sandwiched between them. I had spent the night camped on the east side of the Ibex Hills where an old mining road climbs west up to the defunct Superior Mine. It was one of numerous talc mines in the area, now part of the Death Valley Wilderness. I would start with the two peaks in this part of the Ibex Hills, then switch to the Saddle Peak Hills (with a stop atop the Ibex Dunes), and eventually end the day some miles to the north in the Dublin Hills near Shoshone. A wind advisory was in effect for the next two days, but it wouldn't really become a factor until later in the afternoon. Totals for the day would be about 12.5mi with 4,500ft of gain.
I followed one of the old mine roads to the south, bypassing an intermediate point along the crest, then started climbing the NE Ridge of Peak 1,046ft. It took just under an hour to get between the two summits. I left a second register here, thinking there'd been no online ascents recorded. Later I learned that Mason had been here less than a month earlier - small world. My descent route started off the South Ridge, curving back to the northeast before long, then dropping into a wash system draining to the east. Once out of the wash, it was an easy walk north along the base of the range to get back to the Jeep, an hour after leaving the summit.
I next turned my attention to the Saddle Peak Hills and Peak 2,201ft about a mile and a half to the northeast. The descent off the leeward side of the dunes was steep and quick, getting me down in a few minutes. Back on the floor of the valley, I continued towards the base of the hills, sand eventually giving way to more solid ground. I followed up a wide wash that narrowed after a time, then started up what might be termed the West Ridge of Peak 2,201ft. From a distance, the upper half of the mountain appears to get steep and perhaps class 3, but it all worked nicely at class 2, getting me to the top about an hour and a half from the top of the Ibex Dunes. I found no register, but didn't expect one on this minor summit without 300ft of prominence. I left one because I thought it was a pretty decent climb regardless - I found it kinda funny that this range was called Saddle Peak Hills, when clearly they were more than hills. The same could be said for the Ibex Hills, too.
The higher Peak 2,339ft was less than half a mile to the north and getting between them was as easy as I could have hoped, taking all of 30min. On this summit I found a Mark Adrian register from 2020 when he'd climbed it on a warm day in April. The wind had begun to pick up strongly now, and I was keen to get off the exposed summits and ridgelines. For the descent, I dropped off the SW slopes into a gully that would lead me down to an alternate wash than I'd used for the ascent. The gully narrowed about halfway down where one might expect a large dryfall, but the drops were short and never more than class 3 to descend. Eventually it widened again to easier ground. I passed by an old Death Valley park boundary marker and sign, some mining detritus and other rusted objects on my way out of the hills. The wind was blowing harder as I crossed the valley back towards the road. I could see the sand blowing over the crest of the dunes to the south - I was very happy that I had not done the route in reverse or I might have been sandblasted in ascending the dunes at this time. It was 1:20p by the time I got back to the Jeep, too early to call it a day.
This page last updated: Wed Jan 26 07:51:58 2022
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