Tio Grande P500 RS
Pepper Peak RS
Oak Creek Overlook 52PC

Fri, Apr 27, 2018
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2


I picked up the wife the previous day from the airport and spent the afternoon and evening with her, driving and walking around Las Vegas until we'd both had enough of the throngs, the noise, the bright, flashing lights and incessant video screens. In the morning I dropped her off at the Convention Center where she would be reffing girl's club volleyball all day while I headed to Red Rock NCA to do a pair of peaks in the morning before the heat of the afternoon stopped the fun.

Tio Grande / Pepper Peak

This pair of summits is found on the limestone crest of the Spring Mtns, immediately behind the colorful sandstone cliffs for which the area is famous. The rough Rocky Gap Rd goes up Red Rock Canyon between the limestone peaks and the sandstone features, starting from the end of the pavement at Willow Springs, off Scenic Drive. The Jeep had no trouble making it through the toughest stretches where the road goes through the streambed. I drove about 3 of the 4 miles to Red Rock Summit before parking off the side of the road. Pepper Peak and Tio Grande were both visible high above the road to the west, along with a third intermediate bump between the two. To avoid the cliffs which feature strongly on the east side of the crest, I was aiming for a saddle between Pepper and the intermediate bump. My cross-country route went up the moderately forested slopes, no real bushwhacking, but lots of stuff to avoid and keeping me busy looking for ways through it all. The left (south) side of the face leading up to the saddle appeared to have the easier options through the cliffs. I found a class 3 route around the north side of a prominent pinnacle on the face, but on the way down I went south of this pinnacle and found it all class 2. Once at the saddle, the going becomes all class 2 and a fun hike along the undulating ridgeline, with swell views of Lovell Canyon to the west and Red Rock Canyon to the east. Heading north from the saddle, I went up and over the intermediate bump and on to the summit of Tio Grande, taking about an hour and a half from the start. Harlan Stockman had left a register in 2005 with only a handful of entries since then. It took about 40min to then make my way south about 3/4mi to the summit of Pepper Peak, overlooking Red Rock Summit. The register here was busier, with 8 pages all told since 2005. Harlan had originally named this Peppe Peak, but later suggested Pepper Peak instead. Perhaps Peppe had too much Alt-Right reference in it? I thought it might be fun to descend through the cliffs directly to Red Rock Summit and walk the road down from there, but this proved a fruitless and somewhat dicey exercise from which I backed off after about 10min's effort. I ended up back at the original saddle, descending from there, and finding the easier line. It was only 11:20a by the time I returned to the Jeep, but it was already getting quite warm and I planned to quit early and rest up back at the hotel. It didn't quite work out that way.

Only few minutes after I'd returned to the Jeep, a young woman in her 20s came walking up the road. She said, "Hi" to which I returned the greeting and asked her how it was going. Right away I could tell the answer was along the lines of "Not so well," but it took her some time to relay her story to me. She was clearly agitated, nervous and a little frantic, and she wasn't putting the pieces together in any sort of order. It took a few minutes of asking questions before I had the story straight. She and her boyfriend were planning to climb Bridge Mtn from Red Rock Summit. Brian had parked his car down at Willow Spring and hiked up the road some time ago. Having something to do in town earlier, she (forgot her name, darn it) had come driving up in her dad's F150, planning to join Brian at Red Rock Summit to begin the hike. Only she'd blown out a tire halfway between the pavement and the Jeep, blocking the road in both directions. Having gotten it all straight, I offered, "So it sounds like you could use a ride up to the pass to retrieve your boyfriend, and then back down to the truck to swap out the tire?" She half-smiled and her breathing almost immediately became more regular. I made room in the van for two more passengers and together we executed on the plan, first retrieving Brian from the pass where he'd been waiting about an hour, then back down to the truck. It took some time to figure out how to get the tire out from under the bed of the truck and more time to find all the tools in the truck for changing a tire, but within about 45min we had it all sorted out and the tire changed. We caravanned back down the road where I bade them goodbye with a wave.

Oak Creek Overlook

I continued driving out from Willow Spring and back onto Scenic Drive. It occurred to me that I could probably do Oak Creek Overlook in a few hours despite the heat. This summit is from the 52Peaks Club list, not to be confused with the similarly named one in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. Tom Becht had discovered this discrepancy some months ago after we'd been scrambling in the area one weekend. The 52Peaks' summit is located below Mt. Wilson and Cactus Flower Tower, near the mouth of Oak Creek where it spills out from between Wilson and Rainbow. I parked at the Oak Creek TH and hiked in from there, taking about half an hour to reach the dry creek bed and then the start of the scrambling route about ten minutes later. I had gleaned the route info from a gpx file on PB posted by BMS 914, which was accompanied by an unintentionally hilarious trip report describing the hike as one of the worst possible. Without the preconditions that plagued his outing, I found the route quite enjoyable. I found the first of many ducks about where I expected it and route-finding issues were minimal. The only tricky part was knowing where to climb the steep, slabby face on the right side, up about 150ft to find a key groove hidden from view around a corner. There is a handline at the crux of the route just before the top, which I used without guilt. It took about 25min to climb from the creek to the summit, a large overlook platform with pretty good views for such a low summit. There was the usual 52Peaks ammo box filled with detritus and a thick, current register not even a year old and already a quarter filled. I explored around a bit above the overlook, hoping I might find an alternate ducked route, but had no luck. I went back down the original route and returned to the TH by 4p. So much for an early finish today...


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This page last updated: Sat Apr 28 20:36:53 2018
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