Peak 1,985ft P300
Alexander Hills HP P750
Peak 3,175ft P300
Peak 3,421ft
Peak 3,254ft P500
Peak 2,608ft P300

Sun, Jan 16, 2022
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPX Profiles: 1 2

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I was camped in Sperry Wash, part of an OHV route between Dumont Dunes and Tecopa, CA. The previous day I had spent traveling the route of the historic Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad that once connected Ludlow, CA with Tonopah, NV. One of the more interesting sections of the route travels along the Amargosa River before it forks off into Sperry Wash. Today's outings were all fairly short with the exception of the first (which I thought was going to be a quick one). All the day's scrambling was no more than class 2, standard desert fare in the Mojave.

Peak 1,985ft

This summit is the highpoint between Sperry Wash and the Amargosa River. There are three points with a closed 600m contour in the vicinity. LoJ identified the the southern one with a 601m spot elevation as the highpoint, and it was to this that I set off in the early morning, only about 2/3mi distance. I reached the point in about 30min, just in time for a 7a sunrise. Looking north, however, I spotted a rocky outcrop that looked to be higher and seemed worth a visit. It was another 3/4mi to the north and would take me another 20min along the connecting ridgeline. It was a better summit than the rounded Pt. 601m, with views overlooking the Amargosa River, Tecopa, and the China Ranch Date farm only a few miles to the north. I measured it to be about 10ft higher than the other point. I found an unlabeled benchmark but no register at the summit, so left one of my own. I decided to make a loop of the outing by dropping northeast into a wash on that side, then follow it back to the southeast for about a mile. I found several talc prospects on the steep slope I descended, or I assumed it was talc because that seems to be the major mineral extracted in the area. After reaching the wash system, I noted some interesting sandstone cliffs, a random cairn that someone had constructed, and a watering hole below a drop in the wash. I was back to the Jeep by 8:20a, a bit under 2hrs for the outing.

Alexander Hills HP - Peak 3,175ft

The Alexander Hills are a small collection of peaks and bumps near the San Bernardino/Inyo County line that have had extensive talc mining in the past. I'd read reports that the road to reach them from the south was difficult, even for a Wrangler. I was happy to find it challenging, but not overly so. In fact, it is possible to drive within a short distance of both summits. I stopped about half a mile southeast of the range HP, though in retrospect I could have driven another 1/4mi without much trouble. There is an old mine with tailings on the south side of the peak, along with the remains of a collapsed cabin. From the mineshaft and mineworks just above the cabin, its a 10min hike to the highpoint. Mark Adrian had left a glass jar for his register here in 2020. Nicely, it contained loose scraps from earlier parties, including one from Andy Smatko and friends in 1970. After returning to the Jeep, I drove the short distance to the base of the second summit, Peak 3,175ft. This, too, was an easy class 2 scramble, taking all of 11min to reach the top. Adrian had left a register on this one as well. Nice views, too.

Peak 3,421ft

After returning to the Jeep, I spent the next hour driving north out of the area, past old talc mines, across the China Ranch wash and into the southern end of the Nopah Range. Peak 3,421ft lies above the Noonday Mine, accessed via high-clearance roads. I noticed a newish Private Property - No Trespassing sign just below the mine, so I parked there and walked up the remaining stretch of road. The inactive mine doesn't look like it's going to reopen anytime soon, but I wasn't there to explore dangerous mineshafts. I snapped a few photos of the old mineworks, then headed up a gully to the summit in about 15min. Mostly blue skies today, and with clear air, the views were nice from all the day's summits. Chris Kerth had been to the summit a few months earlier, so I added his name to a register I left before heading back down.

Peak 3,254ft

This summit is a few miles west of the previous one. It lies within the South Nopah Range Wilderness, though I wasn't aware of this at the time. I followed lesser roads off the main Furnace Creek Rd that runs from Tecopa to Tecopa Pass. The rougher roads heading north into the Nopah Range once serviced other mines including the Columbia Mine. I followed various roads to a saddle ENE of Peak 3,254ft, starting from there. Only later did I realize this was at least half a mile inside the Wilderness area. There were no signs, no barriers blocking the road spurs that are now inside the Wilderness area, and it appears that OHV users still regularly use them. Perhaps the BLM just hasn't caught up with managing this part of the Wilderness, or regular users have removed signage and barriers. From where I parked, it was less than 30min to the top where I found another Adrian register from the same April day in 2020 as the earlier ones in the Alexander Hills.

Peak 2,608ft

Another 40min of driving had me back on SR127, to the south towards Ibex Pass. Peak 2,608ft lies in the Sperry Hills, a collection of unassuming, rolling hills between SR127 to the west and the Amargosa River to the east. The western part of the range that includes Peak 2,608ft is comprised of light-colored rock and easy terrain. Starting out at 2p, it made for the most enjoyable hike of the day, a nice ramble in the softer late-afternoon lighting. I followed a broad wash nearly all the way to the summit for the ascent, and took a rolling ridgeline hike on the way out. I much preferred the return route, perhaps because it was more downhill, but the views were understandably better. A portion of the route followed along a faint trail that I took for an animal one, but noticed there were occasional ducks suggesting a prospector had co-opted it for his own use. Mark Adrian and Richard Carey had both visited the summit on separate occasions, both declaring it the highpoint of the Sperry Hills. I think that honor probably goes to Tecopa Peak at the north end of the range, about 80ft higher. It was 4:15p by the time I finished up back at the highway, not long before sunset. I drove only a short distance further on the south side of Ibex Pass to find a place to camp on the north side of the Saddle Peak Hills where I planned to hike the next morning...

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