The King P300 RS
The Queen P500 RS
White Gold #7 RS
Peak 3,500ft P300
The Jack RS
The Fortress P300 RS
Rattlesnake Mountain P500 RS
Tortoise Shell Peak P500 RS
Henderson BM P500 RS

Sun, Feb 16, 2020
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profiles: 1 2 3


On my own for a second day, I headed south of Henderson to tackle a collection of summits found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. I grouped them into three different hikes that would keep me busy for most of the day. The totals came out to about 11.5mi with something over 5,000ft of gain which might explain why I was pretty tired by the time I was done. The Sloan Canyon NCA encompasses the northern half of the McCullough Range east of Interstate 15 and includes a large number of native american petroglyphs. I had visited the petroglyphs in the lower hills to the east a year earlier, but had come back today for other peaks further east and along the main crest of the range.

King/Queen/White Gold/Peak 3,500ft/Jack

This collection of peaks is clustered about a compact group of hills to the east of the main crest, on the far eastern edge of the NCA. Access is from the the southern end of E Horizon Parkway in Henderson where it becomes dirt Dutchman Pass Rd. There is a concrete barrier that appears to have been placed by the BLM to keep vehicles out, but it is trivial to drive around it and seems the norm, as the area east of the NCA appears to be popular with dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles. The area is also popular with shooters and folks dumping garbage and it is far from a Wilderness experience. I drove to a small overlook on the east side of the peaks, at the mouth of a gully between The Queen and The Jack where I parked the jeep.

I first headed north around the base of The Queen to climb more directly to The King, my first stop. I climbed a ridge that led to the saddle between The Queen and King, and from there The King's South Ridge was an easy class 2 hike. The summit had an ammo box with a busy register and a fallen flagpole upon which I found a nice watch that someone had left (not sure why, it seems to work perfectly). The register box contained several books and geocache items and trash, too. Seems a popular stop. I next turned south to return to the saddle and climb The Queen via its North Ridge, only slightly more work than The King. The Queen had a new register left by an LVMC party only a few weeks earlier. This was the highest of the five peaks grouped here. Next up was White Gold #7 (and where do you suppose one might find numbers 1-6?) to the west, connected through a saddle. It was a moderately steep descent down and up through this saddle, but no more than class 2-3 and readily done in less than ten minutes. No register was found here. I think the regular loop would have me go back over The Queen or the shoulder of its South Ridge to hit up The Jack, but there was another summit about a mile to the south, Peak 3,500ft, that I was interested in. This peak, from the north anyway, had the best scrambling on the cicuit. The scramble along the connecting ridgeline was scenic and interesting, with some class 3 found above the saddle between the two. There is a false summit that had a register calling the summit Quo Vadis, after the old mine found at the base of the peak on the south side. There was another register at the slightly higher point to the south.

To make my way back to the Jack, I could have used a number of options, the simplest probably dropping east to the canyon between them and then climbing The Jack's South Ridge. Instead, I headed back to the north to pick my way through the cliffs on the northeast side, a spicy bit of wholey unnecessary class 3-4 scrambling, then easier going in a somewhat brushy gully. In traversing the canyons between the two, I came across all sorts of discarded household items, most of them used as target practice by the local militia preparing for the apocalypse. Old fire extinguishers and propane tanks seem to be particularly popular as targets, perhaps hoping they will explode and send shrapnel flying in all directions? Luckily for them, but probably to some disappointment, they don't actually explode. The frustration in this may help explain the high number of holes found in these items before they are left in peace. While this may upset environmentalists and similar, I take comfort that every dollar spent on discharging firearms is one less dollar available for donation to the RNC.

I climbed The Jack from the west side, taking almost an hour from Peak 3,500ft, the longest leg of this route. The Jack had a nice two year-old register with a few names I recognized. The descent took less than 20min, a steep gully dropping off the north side, becoming gentler as it curves to the east and spit me out right where I'd left the jeep. It wasn't yet 10:30a and I'd already been to five summits - good bang for the buck, this one.


These summits are found on the crest of the McCullough Range, north of the range highpoint, Black Mtn. Most the folks that climb these two do so from the northwest at one of the Anthem neighborhood trailheads. Since I was on the east side, I figured I might be able to drive the powerline road that goes to the saddle between the two summits. I followed good tracks into the NCA around the south side of Peak 3,500ft. Though the tracks were regularly used, they were clearly signed for no motor vehicles which I willfully ignored. It would seem they are trying to repurpose the old jeep roads as hiking and biking trails, but still allow access for the utility trucks to maintain the transmission lines that run across the NCA. I figured my chances of getting ticketed were higher than zero and frankly I would have deserved it. Interestingly, the only other users I saw during the outing were other motor vehicles. I decided not to drive to the saddle, but rather park below it to be partially obscured from view from below.

Starting from the northeast, I made my way up a gully heading southwest, turning west as I angled for the saddle between The Fortress and a lower summit to the north. As the name suggests, The Fortress is ringed with a cliff band to make for some non-trivial route-finding. I knew from GPX tracks I'd seen that it is usually climbed from the west, but I thought it would be fun to attempt to go directly up the north side. I ran off some bighorn ewes that had been minding their own business as I made my way up from the saddle, getting only a blurry picture of them before they were out of sight. As I got to the base of the North Face I found a weakness that would let me get through the initial difficulty, but the rock quality was lacking and the class 4 effort did not seem worth repeating on the descent. I found a flag and geocache at the summit, noting a hazy view south to the higher Black Mtn. Others have done the traverse between the two, but that would be a much bigger deal than I had time for today. I descended the more usual route to the west before traversing back around to the north side and descending to the saddle. I then went over the other summit to the north and down to the lower saddle with Rattlesnake where the powerlines and road traverse across the range. The climb up to Rattlesnake from the saddle took only about 20min, but much of it was a tedious scree slog that had the least enjoyable terrain on the day. None of the many Rattlesnakes that are said to inhabit the slopes of this moutain came out to bother me, probably still a bit too cold. The summit had a busy register whose last visitor was Bob Cable only a few weeks ago, the same gentleman who had made an ascent of Monument Peak near Parker Dam back in 2001 (his name was fresh in my mind from our own Monument Peak outing a few days earlier). The descent was nearly as tedious since the rock did not allow for wild abandon boot-skiing, but the more cautious slipping and sliding with one hand ready to catch my falls which were all but ascertained. It was 1:15p by the time I got back to the jeep to finish this second outing, still a bit too early to call it quits for the day.

Tortoise Shell/Henderson BM

These two summits are also on the crest, at its far northern end. They are also climbed mostly from the northwest, though from the McCullough Hills neighborhood. They can also be climbed from the east starting at the Amargosa TH in Hidden Falls Park. Both summits have communication towers, with Henderson BM sporting a much larger array and a gated road going to the top. Figuring I'd already collected bad juju for driving in the NCA, I drove back out to Henderson the way I'd come and all the way around to the northwest side and parked along Palisades View Dr. It seems the more travelled route goes up a road to a water tower where the Road Runner Trail begins, a maintained bike trail that follow up the wash to Phainopepla Pass, the saddle between the two summits. This isn't the shortest way to Tortoise Shell Peak, so like others, I used a cross-country route heading southeast and south, not a particularly scenic route, but all class 2. I was pretty tired by the time I got to the summit just after 3p. As I sat in the shade of the solar panels on the east side I noticed the trail system to the east and a few folks using it. It was here that I realized the distance to Henderson BM was further than I had guessed and started thinking maybe I'd leave it for another time. I found a use trail heading off the east side of the peak (part of the trail system), using it for a short while before continuing cross-country along the ridgeline to the pass. This part went fairly smoothly and was more enjoyable than the ascent, such that by the time I got to the lowpoint, Henderson BM didn't seem quite so hard anymore. I took 20min to climb Henderson BM, reaching the top after 4p and finding a bulldozed summit with a beefy fence around the towers inside. I walked up to the fence and noted the terrain was pretty much the same elevation as that inside and called it good. I took a short break before starting my descent, happy that the rest of way was all downhill. I then used the Road Runner Trail to make my return a breeze, finally getting back just before 5p. Found no registers on either summit, but I didn't really do much looking. In hindsight, I think the route from the east starting at the Amargosa TH would be more interesting, and mostly on good trails, too. I was a bit sorry I hadn't researched this one a little more.


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This page last updated: Sun Mar 1 16:12:56 2020
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