Peak 3,712ft P300
Pupfish Peak P1K
Peak 4,112ft P1K
Peak 3,783ft

Nov 11, 2023

With: Iris Ma
Tom Grundy

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profiles: 1 2


Our third day in the Pahrump area saw us on two separate outings, each with a P1K as the main focus plus a bonus. We had camped the night northwest of Pupfish Peak on a dirt road we would use for the first outing in the morning.

Peak 3,712ft - Pupfish Peak

We left Tom's truck where we'd camped and drove the Jeep about two miles east up the informal jeep road. It is not shown on the topo map but gets decent use - high-clearance needed. We parked roughly between the two summits and would tackle them individually in opposite directions, no need to move the Jeep. Peak 3,712ft was less than half a mile to the east and made for an easy ascent taking barely 20min. We hopped onto the ridge with spot elevation 3,234ft, favoring the north side to avoid obstacles. We followed this up to the summit ridgeline and then east to the highpoint, all class 2. We left a register before retracing the upper part of our route and then dropping more directly down to the dirt road which we followed back out to the Jeep.

We next turned southwest to tackle Pupfish Peak. This peak looks good from all sides, formed from layered limestone that goes at class 3 from almost any approach. It is named for the tiny endangered fish that live in a deep cave a few miles to the northwest, in a tiny, detached part of Death Valley National Park. We'd had good views of the peak's NE Face from the previous one and had guessed there were numerous ways one might make their way up. We identified three main buttresses and decided to ascend the middle one, first working our way across the undulating drainage to reach its base. We found the buttress an enjoyable limestone scramble with several small cliffbands, none harder than class 3. Once we topped out on the buttress, we turned left on easier terrain to work our way south before the final steep climb, more class 3, to the summit. From the Jeep, it had taken us about an hour. There are very good views from the top, one of the highest in this area (only Johnnie Range HP, 4mi to the ENE, is higher). A register was found in an orange ammo box - I failed to get a photo of the contents and forgot who had left it. We took a longish break here, relaxing, snacking, and taking one of Tom's summit cookie selfies. I offered the others a chance to take a different route down, one from the north posted by Anji Cerney on PB. I would return NE back to the Jeep and then pick them up down the road where Anji had started. Taking me up on the offer, we all descended the upper NE Ridge before parting ways. They turned north while I turned east, deciding to try the alternate buttress south of the one we used for the ascent. It had looked harder from below, but from above it looked like I could work down through the various cliff bands. This worked out quite well, even easier than the ascent route. I eventually landed on easier ground that took me into the wash draining north that, I could then follow back to the Jeep. I took 2hrs for the roundtrip. I drove back down to the meeting spot and did some reading while I waited about 20min for Iris and Tom to show up. They reported the ridge mostly enjoyable, save for the final descent on chossy slopes to the bottom.

Peak 4,112ft - Peak 3,783ft

We would spend the next hour repositioning vehicles and driving the Jeep around to the south side of Pupfish Peak on a good BLM road, this one shown on the topo map. Joseph Nuernberger had driven a Corolla on this same road in 2021, so I suspect it's good for most vehicles, even if a little scary for some. Peak 4,112ft lies just over a mile to the southwest, our second P1K for the day. We followed a minor variation of the routes posted by Stav Basis and Ken Jones. After an easy stretch of desert flats, we started up the right side of a ridgeline in line with the summit, finding it a bit loose, but more tedious than anything. After gaining the ridge around some lower obstacles, the route became more enjoyable as we followed it up higher, merging with other ridges to our left and then right. The upper part forms the West Ridge of Peak 4,112ft, a mostly class 2 affair on easier terrain. We favored the right side of the ridge, following a sheep trail that took us nearly to the summit. Near the top, we turned right to work through the uppermost cliff band and then the final short stretch to the summit, taking a little over an hour.

John Vitz had left a register in 2007, with a handful of entries since then. David Carmody was the most recent visitor only two weeks earlier. There is a very fine view of Pupfish Peak to the north, and east to the Last Chance Range where we would climb tomorrow. We turned our attention to the southwest, where Peak 3,783ft lay along a connecting ridgeline about a mile away. We would spend just under an hour on this enjoyable leg, easy cruising over or around several intermediate bumps. The summit has just under 300ft of prominence, so it gets little attention. We gave it some love by leaving a register before heading down. We chose to descend the North Ridge to the drainage that would lead north back towards the Jeep, about a mile and a half away. I went ahead of the others after descending about 1/2 the ridge, so that I could retrieve the Jeep and save them a bit of walking. Near the mouth of the drainage, I went over a low saddle to the northeast for a more direct line to the Jeep. After retrieving it, I drove about 1/3mi west on the road to find the others only a few minutes away. It was just after 3:30p when we finished and time to call it a day.

We had to get water and some other supplies in town, and afterwards reconvened north of Pahrump, at the north end of the Last Chance Range off SR160. Iris and Tom had camped at this same spot earlier in the year and it made for a decent campsite, with cell coverage, even.


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