Peak 4,435ft P300
Peak 4,029ft P300

Mon, Feb 20, 2023

With: Iris Ma
Tom Grundy

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile


This was the last full day Iris had before returning to the work force, so we planned an outing to Muddy Mtns HP and Muddy Peak, the latter a DPS summit Iris was interested in. I had climbed both back in 2009, so I made plans to climb some unnamed summits from the same trailhead. The road in from Valley of Fire Rd is decent to start, but grows quite rough for the second half - thus the need for the Jeep. I was staying at the Howard Johnson in Las Vegas where my wife was reffing girls' volleyball this weekend. After dropping her off at the convention center, I drove out to the junction of US93 and I-15 where the others had spent the night. Together we drove in the Jeep for more than an hour to reach the trailhead in White Basin on the north side of the peaks.

Starting out at 8:45a, we spent an hour hiking 2.3mi on the old road going into Hidden Valley from the TH. The valley is quite picturesque and an easy jaunt once the initial low ridge is surmounted near the start. There is a nice mix of colorful sandstone and white/gray limestone forming the hills that surround the valley. We parted ways near the end of the old road when we were nearly due north of Muddy Mtn. I headed southwest towards Peak 4,435ft, which can be seen about 3/4mi away, behind a second low ridge. Its east and northeast faces are quite steep and rugged. Adam Walker had visited the summit a few years earlier, using the easier South Ridge from a saddle on that side. I decided to go up the East Face for a bit more challenge. It looks imposing, but the route I followed was almost entirely class 2, with a few class 3 moves with minimal exposure. It landed me on the South Ridge near the top, with a short distance left to the summit. I was surprised to find the route worked so well. Now almost 11a, I found Adam's register from 2021 with his party's signatures, in need of some company.

My second summit, Peak 4,029ft, lay less than a mile to the northeast, but I knew this would entail more work than the first peak. Having studied Peak 4,435ft's NE Face from Hidden Valley, I figured I could find a way down that side, saving me some time since it is fairly direct. This, too, worked out to be mostly class 2, but it was not nearly as pleasant with a good deal of loose material in the gullies I descended that took some caution. Once at the base of the mountain, the going gets considerably easier, a pleasant walk following the wash system between the two peaks. Peak 4,029ft is more colorful sandstone than limestone, and I expected it to take me some time to work my way to the summit. I was happy to find the route from the southwest was pretty straightforward, nothing difficult, all the way to the top. The summit block was a surprise, however, and a whole 'nother story.

The thing is huge, about 30ft across and 15-20ft in height. Two easily-reached points on its north side are both lower, one only slightly so. The large block is overhanging on all sides, and completely unclimbable from the east, north and west, at least by me. I was ready to give up as I was completing my circumnavigation and discovered the south side held some promise. I saw that a couple of sandstone rocks had been arranged on that side to overcome the overhanding part at the bottom. Later I learned that Tracy Foutz was responsible for this bit of McGyvering. It's a vertical climb off the cheater block and terribly unnerving. The sandstone holds for hands do not look or feel solid, but the small ledges for the feet seemed pretty good. My first effort had me spooked before I could get my foot off the cheater block and I backed off. Ready to give up a second time, I then took off my gloves and fanny pack to try again. This felt much better and I slowly worked my way up, one hold at a time. Upon landing on the large, flat summit, I found the collection of rocks Tracy had pulled together, but no register inside. I was regretting having left mine in the pack below, but wasn't about to make a second attempt to leave one at the highpoint. After taking a few pictures, I carefully retreated back down the same way, collected my things and then went to the slightly lower point on the north side. I left a register here. Perhaps if someone visits this fine summit in the future and decides to climb the higher block, they'll move the register to its proper place.

I had intended to continue next to Colorock, about a mile and a quarter to the north. Colorock is in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles, and my original goal when Iris had mentioned the Muddy Mtns. Though it was only 1p, I was finding myself tired far more than I would have expected. I had picked up a flu bug from my wife on the drive to Las Vegas and had been mostly in denial these past few days, figuring I'd just power through it in the fine desert air, but it was starting to get the best of me. Having surveyed the route to Colorock, there looked to be a pretty decent line between them and I was dismayed that I wasn't finding the energy to continue. Recognizing that this is supposed to be fun and not grueling (at least intentionally), I decided to head back. I was able to enjoy the descent off the NE Side of Peak 4,029ft, steeper and more involved than my ascent route, but nothing more than standard class 3. I landed myself on the western edge of Hidden Valley where the rest of the route was mostly just pleasant hiking. I worked around some intervening rock outcrops and found portions of the old road depicted on the topo map on this side of the valley. I eventually reached the better road we had hiked earlier in the morning, and followed this back out to the TH, finishing shortly before 3p. The others would be another hour and a half before returning, not long before sunset, having successfully reached both peaks. It would be nearly dark before we had driven back out to the highway and I had returned them to Tom's Truck. Then back to Las Vegas to do it all over again in the morning...


gimpilator comments on 03/01/23:
That summit boulder sure was a surprise for us. Spooky. Tracy is a brave man. We examined the spot you climbed up, but didn't do it. This is one of about 4 or 5 peaks, where I enact the "head is higher" personal rule, from the nearby bump. Not a pure summit visit for me.
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