Mt. Mangreed P300 RS
Pinnacle RS
Red Needle RS
Red Fox Peak RS
Lava Butte P750 RS
White Eagle Peak P300 RS
Division Peak P300 RS
Unity Peak P500 RS

Fri, Dec 17, 2021

With: Tom Grundy

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX
Pinnacle later climbed Sat, Feb 19, 2022
Red Needle later climbed Sat, Feb 19, 2022


Eric left us in the morning to head back to Albuquerque. Iris was still off working for The Man in Baltimore, but was due back this evening in Las Vegas, leaving Tom and I to hang around the area for the day. I had picked out a collection of peaks on the east side of Las Vegas found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. Of most interest were Pinnacle and Red Needle which garnered high ratings for scrambling.

Mt. Mangreed

This summit is located in the middle of a huge residential development sandwiched between Lake Las Vegas to the north and E. Lake Mead Pkwy to the south. It's very easy but has great views, nice for an early morning warmup. We drove roads not exactly open to the public (intended for construction traffic) to get within a few minutes' hike on the southeast side of the volcanic summit. It's not clear if the top will be developed or left as open space, but you can expect any homes built there to be the most expensive, commensurate with the views.


Lake Las Vegas is squeezed between Lake Mead NRA to the east and BLM lands to the west. These next five summits are all located on the BLM lands NW of Lake Las Vegas. Access is more obvious from the north via SR147 (aka E. Lake Mead Blvd, not to be confused with the similarly named E. Lake Mead Pkwy to the south), but we were to the south. Access here is a bit confusing and non-obvious. We first tried to gain access off Lake Las Vegas Pkwy where Google Streetview shows a truck with trailer accessing the dirt road. That is no longer driveable, and can only be used for foot or bike access. We studied the satellite views more and found we could gain access from the roundabout with Montelago Blvd. We left Tom's truck at nearby Terrazza Park and took the Jeep for the rest of the day. Pinnacle is a nice looking volcanic plug just west of a set of power lines. The BLM road we followed to the north is the service road for these power lines. We managed to get pretty close by parking at one of the transmission towers. From there it was a 15min hike/scramble to the summit. There was a single modestly exposed class 3 section that we climbed (though we found an easier option on the way down) on decent rock, a fun but rather short exercise. Paula Raimondi had left a register here a year and half ago - her name pops up regularly around Las Vegas. There is a neat view of Lava Butte to the north with the striking figure of Red Needle in the foreground. It was to this that we next turned our attention.

Red Needle

We had not planned on any rock climbing this trip, so did not have any real gear necessary to climb this feature. In his guidebook, Purcell describes using an extension ladder to aid the climb. Without either proper gear or ladder, it seemed we stood little chance, but we decided to give it a look anyway. The feature is indeed as impressive up close as it is from a distance. The conglomerate nature of the rock does not inspire confidence. The initial step up sandstone slabs are easy enough, then one must chimney up uninspiring crud to reach the main obstacle - a 15-foot, slightly overhanging crack. This is where Purcell had deployed his ladder. Tom had some webbing, a harness and few loose slings. We found a rope dangling from above, thinking this might offer a way up, but a strong tug brought it tumbling down. Tom used the rope piece to tie around a small chockstone partway up the crack, as a means to offer some protection. I used a hip belay to keep Tom from tumbling off our ledge should he fall, but any fall would likely offer real bodily harm. After some effort to find suitable foot and hand holds, Tom judged the rock quality to be insufficient for a safe climb, and he backed down. More gear would be called for. We would not climb Red Needle today.

Red Fox Peak

We returned to the utility road and drove a short distance north, parking at an informal shooting range on the northwest side of Red Fox. Various bullet-ridden items are strewn about, including a child's Playskool kitchen set. There are disturbing psychological questions surrounding such target choices that are probaby better left unexplored. We scrambled up the class 2 NW Ridge in less than 10 minutes. Kevin Humes had left a register here the previous year, one of many he's placed in the Las Vegas area. I had left my GPSr in the Jeep by accident, so the GPX track does not include this summit.

Lava Butte

This is the most mountain-like of the day's summits. With nearly 900ft of prominence, it dominates the area and is easily recognized from many vantage points. We parked where the BLM road goes over a saddle northwest of the summit near a transmission tower, and took 30min to climb to the summit. The slopes on that side are loose and crumbly and not all that much fun. The summit is a pile of volcanic rock and features a tattered American flag flown upside down in the latest of conservative protest gestures designed to bring awareness to the socialist/globalist policies ruining this great nation. Or whatever. The fine views include a really cool one of Rainbow Gardens to the southwest, a unique geologic feature best viewed from up high.

White Eagle Peak

After returning to the Jeep, we spent the next 30min driving north and then south to access Rainbow Gardens and White Eagle Peak. The name was bestowed by Purcell for the defunct White Eagle Mine on the east side of the summit. The area has numerous prospects and tailings, all inactive now. The BLM has added some fencing to keep out overly-enthusiastic OHV drivers. The hike to the summit from the east is a standard class 2 desert hike, taking less than 20min. The footing is better than on the previous two summits, and the white rock makes for moderately fun scrambling. The summit held another Kevin Humes register from the previous year. Stav Basis was the last visitor back in October.

Division Peak - Unity Peak

These two peaks combined for an interesting outing. Purcell has given Division's East Ridge high marks. We managed to drive fairly close to the ridge's toe on its north side, off an unmarked road north of SR147. The area has been used extensively for target practice. The peak is primarily composed of limestone, which accounts for the nice scrambling on the East Ridge. It's fairly tame, but still enjoyable, in the class 2-3 range. We took half an hour to reach the summit of Division, finding yet another Humes register, this one from 2016, with a number of recognizable names. We dropped off the north side to the saddle with the higher Unity Peak, then scrambled up its SW Ridge, another 30min between the summits. And yes, Humes had left a register here in 2016 as well. There is a good view looking north to Sunrise Mtn, the highest in the immediate area. The descent was the most interesting of this short loop, taking us down the SE Slopes. There are cliffs in the lower half to be negotiated, Tom and I taking very different routes as personal preferences dictated. He went down more to the west while I continued on a descending trajectory to the southeast, but both routes had their challenges. Near the bottom I came upon what looked to be an abandoned homeless encampment, partially built into small caves in the cliffs. Someone had spent considerable time here, but most of what remains is just piles of discarded materials and trash. It was 3:45p by the time we finished up back at the Jeep, Tom arriving a few minutes before me.

We drove back to Lake Las Vegas to retrieve Tom's truck, splitting up from there. I took off to start the long drive back to San Jose while Tom hung around Las Vegas for the arrival of Iris's flight in a few hours. Traffic getting through Las Vegas was pretty sucky during the afternoon commute hours, so it was some time before I got back in California. I ended up driving to the Halloran Springs exit off Interstate 15, about 15mi east of Baker. I planned to do a short hike in the morning near there before continuing my way home...


Harlan Stockman comments on 02/04/22:
Red Needle requires about 30' of 8mm rope, good aim to throw over the chockstone, and cords to make friction knots.

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