Sat, Apr 2, 2022
My wife was in Las Vegas reffing volleyball, so I had driven out to join her for the long weekend. She would be busy most of the day, leaving me time to go hiking, but giving us the evenings together. Tom came out from SoCal to keep me company. Temperatures were a bit on the warm side, not unusual for April, so we stuck to the higher elevations of the Spring Mtns. We drove out to Kyle Canyon Rd (SR157) where we found a half marathon in progress and the road set up for one-way traffic with a pilot car. Not bad, considering they could have just closed the whole road off for the morning. After about 10mi we turned off onto some BLM roads that would take us up a side canyon between the first and last peaks on the agenda. We parked off the side of the road to start here around 8:30a. All of the day's peaks can be found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles.
Our first summit, Pondview Peak, is fairly easy and found about a mile southeast of our starting point. After crossing some flats, we descended to cross a small wash at the base of the peak before beginning our ascent. The terrain is moderately steep but doesn't last long, taking us about 40min in all to reach the summit. The name is derived from the view of the small pond at Prospect Springs that can be seen to the northwest a mile away. I think Purcell was scraping the barrel when coming up with a name for this one. Kevin Humes had left a register here in 2020. Bob Cable was the most recent visitor the previous June. Pondview has nice views around Kyle Canyon, but is surrounded by higher summits on most sides.
We turned south to descend that side of Pondview, dropping down to the original canyon before beginning the major climb of the day to the southern rim of Kyle Canyon, called La Madre Mountain. It is along this miles-long crest that most of the summits we were interested were located. El Bastardo, presumeably a play on the higher La Madre and El Padre summits, would be our next stop. It would take some time with more than 2,000ft of elevation gain, following a forested ridgeline for well over an hour. The upper slopes have talus acreage where the going is a bit slower, comprised mostly of broken limestone that dominates the range. When we reached the summit around 11:15a, we found a register from 2007 left by Hugh de Q (aka Harlan Stockman). It held many of the expected names in the seven pages of entries. There is a good view to the south to the Red Rocks area, east to Las Vegas Valley (though particularly hazy today) and northeast along the rim to our other summits.
After a nice break we continued northeast and east along the ridgeline towards our next stop, Burnt Peak. It hasn't much prominence and is really just an intermediate point on the way to El Padre, but it would still take us almost an hour to cover a distance of under a mile. The sloped limestone slabs had a habit of presenting us with short unexpected cliffs that took a bit to work through when encountered. It was a nice mix of hiking/scrambling that was made enjoyable with the cooler temps we found now that we were above 7,500ft. The summit is named for an old fire that burned its west and north slopes, though not the surrounding peaks. A register from 2017 contained many of the names from the El Bastardo register, and it seems we missed Paula Raimondi by just two days.
It would take us an equal amount of time to reach El Padre, again with the short limestone steps and even a bit of class 3 scrambling. Lots of broken limestone along the ridge with more open views than we'd had earlier. El Padre had a busy register with too many pages to photograph, so I just took one of the last page. The previous two entries were both from Paula, who had also ascended the peak back in 2012. There was also an amusing business card making fun of my penchant for removing business cards from summit registers. I'm pretty sure it was Harlan that created it (he has an array of such cards he sprinkles about the area registers), but he was evasive when I asked him directly later. :-)
It was now after 1p and the highest summit in the area, La Madre, lay another another mile to the northeast. It has more than 1,000ft of prominence and is the most popular summit around these parts, but having climbed it in 2009, I wasn't much interested. Tom was, however, and I encouraged him to go off and pay it a visit. So we parted ways at El Padre, and while Tom continued his way along the ridge, I began the long descent back down from the rim, taking a pretty direct way off the summit. It went down pretty steeply through the trees and into a gully that grew wider and began to show a series of ducks that I wasn't expecting. There was some grooming along the route to suggest it was used more than a few times. I suspect it leads back to the end of the spur road we had driven in on, but I diverged well before that point to make my way more directly towards the last summit, Barricade Peak. Like Pondview, it isn't very high, but it's pretty easy (unless you're tired after a long day) from any direction. I climbed it from the south, finding a Kevin Hume register at the unimpressive summit, then continued northwest and west off the summit ridge to get me back to the Jeep around 3:20p. I never did find anything that might suggest the origin of the last summit's name, also bestowed by Purcell.
Since we had some cell coverage, I had let Tom know that I could bring the Jeep closer if he planned to skip Barricade. He did, so I drove to the end of the spur road along a ridge, a bit more exciting than I had expected as it gets progressively rougher towards the end. Tom ended up overshooting the end of the road on his way back, but found his way to the Wilderness sign, and after another text exchange, I drove back down and met him on his way back up the road. We headed back to town where we found some so-so Indian food for dinner before heading back to the motel for the night...
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