Tramp Ridge P1K RS
South Tramp Point P300 RS
Peak 5,003ft P300 RS
Peak 3,796ft P300
Peak 3,917ft P300
Peak 3,068ft P300

Mon, Dec 10, 2018
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profile


My last day in the Gold Butte area was primarily to do Tramp Ridge, with three summits featured in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. The other peaks were convenient stat-padding summits not far from the road as I was driving back out of the monument.

Tramp Ridge/Tramp South Point/Peak 5,003ft

Tramp Ridge is an 8 mile-long limestone ridgeline in the center of the monument, its southern end found just north of the Gold Butte town site. There are four summits along its length with more than 300ft of prominence, the highest with more than 1,400ft of prominence. I planned to do the three highest of these which are found in Purcell's guidebook. He describes approaches from the east and south but I found the shortest routes are all from the west side where the slopes aren't as steep as the east side and a convenient backcountry road gets one much closer. I slept along this road the night before, allowing me a very early start. I was awake at 5:20a and starting off just before 6a. It would have been too dark for cross-country travel without a headlamp, but there was just enough light to hike the road. Anticipating a loop, I had parked west of the third summit, leaving me about 2mi of walking along the road to its end. Though the skies were overcast, there was plenty of light by the time I got to the end of the road, about 3/4mi southwest of Tramp Ridge, the northernmost of the three and the highest. It was cold and breezy most of the morning, unlike the sunny skies we had the previous two days. I had my fleece on for the whole time, and my balaclava while I was hiking along the crest. The topo map shows an old mining road going up to the Lincoln Mine just below the crest. Though most of this has long been washed out, there were still a few usable sections that I took advantage of. Before reaching the mine, I turned left and climbed up the steep limestone face to reach the crest very near the summit.

Because of the early start, it wasn't yet 7:15a when I reached the summit, maybe 15min after sunrise. It was cold and windy and I can't say I enjoyed my time there - better to keep moving. Finding no register, I turned south and began the mile-long traverse along the crest to the second summit, Tramp South Point. This is the more impressive-looking of the three summits as it's the only one that's not just a highpoint on a long section of ridgeline. There was some class 3 scrambling along the crest, a broken jumble of limestone rocks, some of it with exposure. The hardest spots could be bypassed on one side or the other and to keep out of the wind as much as possible, I stayed lower on the west side where it was more tolerable. Tramp South Point had a register left in 2003. The only other entry was from Purcell's party in 2014. I continued south for another mile to the last summit, Peak 5,003ft. The ridgeline was similar, but again I would cheat on the west side to keep the wind off me. There was no register that I could find at the third summit so I immediately started my descent down the west side. This was a pretty tame descent, initially down a moderately steep slope, then easing as I landed in a drainage emptying to the south. I went up the west bank of this drainage to drop into another drainage that would take me closer to my starting point. I made a tactical error here in actually moving two drainages over, which took me down a gully to the northwest. I hadn't consulted the GPSr during this operation and when I reached the road at the bottom, I started walking north, thinking the jeep was in that direction. I quickly realized I was on a part of road I had walked in the semi-darkness of the early morning. I then consulted the GPSr and, lo-and-behold, I was a full mile north of where I thought I was. Oops. At least it was an easy walk along the road to get back to the jeep at 10a, a four hour outing.

Peak 3,796ft

This minor summit is located less than a mile to the southwest of where I had parked. I moved the jeep down the road to where it was 1/3mi from the summit on the SE side. The climb is short but steep, up broken limestone rock, weaving through some minor cliff areas. When I reached the summit I noted there was another point another 1/4mi to the northwest that looked to be similar and had a very large cairn. Thinking it might be the highpoint, I went over to investigate, but the GPSr showed it to be about 10ft lower. No idea why such a large cairn on this minor point. I dropped south through a cliff band to make a small loop of the outing, eventually circling back around the south side of the peak to reach the jeep.

Peak 3,917ft

This summit is located to the east off the north end of Tramp Ridge, about 0.8mi from the main Gold Butte Rd. It took less than 30min to reach the summit, the highpoint of a modest limestone ridgeline.

Peak 3,068ft

Continuing north on Gold Butte Rd, I stopped to pay a visit to Devils Throat, an interesting feature about half a mile off the road. It's a large circular pit, perhaps 100ft across and 40-50ft deep. There is a fence around it that gives one a rather poor view. Hopping the low fence allows one a closer look where you can see the bottom of this natural pit, with no visible drainage. There are remnants of an older fence that had originally been much closer to the hole, but it seems for safety purposes they have now moved the fence about 50ft from the opening.

Back on Gold Butte Rd I continued north until I was about a mile west of Peak 3,068ft. A young man in a beatup Ford Explorer was parked there. When I asked him if he was ok, he said, "Yeah, but I've got a small problem." Seems he couldn't get the key to turn in the ignition. He was pretty vague about his predicament, but I offered to give him a ride out to the Interstate after my short hike. He said he still had food and someone knew he was out here. I left him to hike to this easy summit, a pleasant enough effort that gave me time to think about the guy. I concluded that he was really just too shy to express he needed help, so I decided to engage him a little more thoroughly to understand his situation.

After returning from the peak I dropped my pack off in my jeep and went over to talk to the lad sitting by his truck. I introduced myself and asked if it was ok if I asked him some questions. After about five minutes, I had him sized up pretty well. He was kinda fucked and didn't realize it, or if he did, didn't seem much worried about it.

  • He'd planned to spend five days in the monument. Three of them were spent here. He'd backpacked down to a sandstone area called Finland and found his car undriveable when he returned this morning.
  • He had a few days worth of food remaining.
  • He had no cell service
  • The persons who knew he was out here were his parents, some 300mi away in Utah.
  • His car ignition was messed up badly and would probably need a tow to a service station.
  • He didn't have AAA, nor did his parents (he thought).
  • He'd made no effort to flag anyone down even though he was parked just off the main road. There's a vehicle coming by about once an hour, I'd guess.

    I asked him what he expected to happen. He figured his parents would note he was overdue and call the NPS who would probably send a ranger out to look for him. That seemed pretty accurate, I agreed, but "don't you think it would be better not to wait until your parents worry you're missing?" He agreed that was true and to his credit, had packed up his gear in his backpack and was waiting until I got back to accept the ride back out. Or at least until he got cell service and could call his parents, then he could camp the night aside the road until they arrived the next day. That seemed a decent plan, so off we went. His cell phone was pretty old and didn't get service until we'd nearly returned to the Interstate, some 25mi north from where we'd started. As I was heading west, he asked that I leave him there where he could make his phone calls and camp the night. He thanked me as he got his gear out of the back and we parted ways. Among other things we talked about on the drive out, this wasn't the first time he'd been stranded in a remote location. He chalked it up to his "bad luck with vehicles." I was thinking it was probably because he took old cars on solo trips in the desert, but maybe it was just bad luck...


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