I was a full day ahead of schedule while roaming West Centeral Nevada to finish
up the peaks in Andy Zdon's Desert Summits. Nevares Peak in Death Valley
was the last remaining one, something I could easily do the next day before
driving back to Southern California where I was due to meet my wife. So I
decided to spend today tackling peaks on the way to Death Valley, most of them
found in Courtney Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles with a few bonus peaks
thrown in. The peaks were found along US95, around the town of Beatty, and
along the road through Titus Canyon in Death Valley.
This standalone mountain lies just west of US95, not far from where I had spent
the night. The topo map shows a road going up towards the summit from the
northeast, but I found no sign of such a road and suspect it to be a figment
of the mapmaker's imagination. I parked where this road was shown to originate,
went over the ,
and then cross-country up the wide open slopes
in about half an hour. Only some low scrub to start with, the route growing more
rocky towards the summit. I found a
and open views with a nice one
of the mountain's shadow over Sarcobatus Flat. Sue & Vic
Henney had left a register here ,
all but one of the half dozen names
among the usual suspects. It was the only register I would find on the day.
Springdale Mtn & Northwest
These unofficially named summits are found about 8mi SE of Coba Mtn, also on
the west side of US95. a rocky makes the higher summit to the
southwest . There is a and a small USGS
instrument found there. The more interesting summit is the
requiring a quarter mile of class 2-3 scrambling to reach
where an odd survey tower-ish
is found at the summit, held up
by four guy-wires, its true purpose unfathomable.
Pioneer Mine Peak
Another five miles further south, this summit is found among the Bullfrog Hills
north of Beatty. A road from US95 goes most of the way to the summit, stopping
at a telecom installation on
of the peak. It takes only a few minutes of rocky cross-country travel to reach
rises the much higher Donovan Mtn, which made me wonder why Purcell had
included this officially unnamed point I stood upon rather than the more
impressive one to the west. It might be that Donovan has no road leading
anywhere near its summit and would require significantly more effort. If I
didn't already have a full agenda I would have visited it next, but instead I
would leave it for a future visit to the area.
West Sawtooth Peak
I had visited the Bullfrog Mtns four years earlier, tagging a number of other
peaks in the area. I'd climbed the nearby
and Bullfrog Mtn, both
found in Zdon's book. A year later I came back to do a circuit
around the historic mining town of Rhyolite, also in the Bullfrog Mtns. Today I
was picking up a few others from Purcell's book, but I'm sure I'd be back again
sometime in the future for still others.
is an interesting summit
with some class 3 scrambling. A rough road goes steeply up to the saddle between
West Sawtooth and its taller brother, making for a short hike over rocky
terrain. There is to the southeast with vertical cliffs
on two sides. I went up a class 2 ravine on of this
point, then angled right to the higher summit, taking all of about 15min. There
is some additional class 3 just below , though nothing
tricky. There are nice views overlooking most of the Bullfrog Hills.
Found about 4mi southwest of Sawtooth, is a standalone summit
just outside the Bullfrog Hills to the west. It is actually located in the
Nevada Triangle of Death Valley NP, and one passes through a barbed-wire fence
and a cattle grate marking . This same road passes along
the base of the peak on the north side, getting one .
It took half an hour to reach up moderately steep slopes.
Now about 11:30a, the wind had been picking up steadily over the course of the
morning. It had reached a point where dust and sand was getting swept up and
carried hundreds of feet into the air, creating a haze that took away
across the Amargosa Desert to the
southeast. Luckily this would improve when I drove into CA and higher elevations
where it was still windy, but the terrain held less dust and sand to whip up.
After returning to SR374, I headed towards CA by way of Titus Canyon, a one-way
dirt/gravel road that goes through a couple of passes in the Grapevine Mtns
before descending Titus Canyon into Death Valley. I had hiked to this route
from Daylight Pass three years earlier, and found it a very enjoyable part of
the park with lots of interesting peaks. The road is very popular, even on a
weekday, with dozens of other vehicles going through during the afternoon I
was there. It's not a difficult road and most vehicles can negotiate it,
but its rockiness suggests driving slower to avoid blowouts. A van carrying a
large family not far up
the road from the Nevada side. A couple of other Jeepers had stopped to help
them out when I went by, needing no additional help from me. The last five
summits were all along the Titus Canyon road and still I hadn't exhausted the
opportunities when I was done. Most were short hikes including the first,
. It's located halfway between the two passes on the south
side of the road. After crossing a short, , it's a steep
climb up to the rocky summit with cliffs on three sides, overlooking Titanothere
Canyon to and the upper part of the drainage looking
and . Only a short bit of easy class 3 is needed
near the top.
Found only half a mile southwest of Titanothere Point,
didn't make the cut for Purcell's book, but still has more than 300ft of
prominence. The hike to the summit is only slightly longer than that for
Titanothere, taking less than 20min, .
Red Pass Peak
After returning to the road, I finished the drive up to Red Pass and parked
there. As the name suggests, Red Pass Peak lies above the pass, this time on
the north side of the road. The is a series of rocky
and cliffs that look more difficult upon first impressions. There is
that makes it much easier, however, going most of the way up the ridge to the
summit, following close to
of the ridge. It was harder to
follow on the way up than the way down, and losing it took me into some class
3 territory, but even then, nothing really difficult or tricky.
This interesting summit lies about 3mi to the northwest of Red Pass. One first
drives down Titus Canyon past the old mining site of Leadfield where a
still stand. Just past where the canyon begins to narrow,
I pulled off to the side to park where the canyon forks. Titus Peak rises up
almost a thousand feet on the north side. The and
Faces are fraught
with cliffs, though they may offer class 4-5 scrambling routes. I hiked north
in that direction before spying class 3 scrambling up from
the northeast side. Though the distance is short, the elevation gain is
deceptive, taking nearly 40min to reach the top. Once
is gained, the going gets easier and it becomes obvious that the easier line is
of the peak, avoiding some of the tediousness along the NE Ridge. After
summiting, I descended the easier, longer way, returning to the jeep in the
main canyon by 4p.
This unnamed summit lies a mile and a quarter south of Titus Peak. The easiest
way to reach it is from the Leadfield area where class 2 slopes rise up to
a north-south ridgeline that can be followed to the peak. I chose a harder
line by starting at the same location I used for Titus Peak, going up a very
steep line directly out of the canyon .
that made for some enjoyable class 3 scrambling, a little stiff in places. Once
above this initial wall, I threaded through some more cliffs above on easier
class 2-3 terrain before entering a somewhat brushy
gradient eased and the going more relaxed. More class 3 can be had by climbing
up to the north-south ridge sooner (which I did on ascent), or for an easier
time, just follow the little valley south and climb class 2 slopes that bypass
the class 3 sections. More
on the ridge follows, eventually
curving around to the west to reach Peak 5,605ft from the east. This was the
longest hike of the day, about 2mi one way and took a bit shy of an hour and
a half to reach. The summit overlooks the vast upper part of the
that spreads across two states and covers more than 20 square miles.
It would be after 6:30p before I to the jeep, near sunset
for quite a full day, even if there was lots of driving in between summits.
I didn't want to drive down into Death Valley for the evening where it would
be warmer and I'd have trouble finding rogue camping options. Instead, I
simply showered and spent the night where I'd parked. There was only a single
vehicle that drove by after I'd returned, after which I had the canyon to
myself, a very quiet and enjoyable place to spend the night...