Coba Mountain P500 RS
Springdale Mountain P750 RS
Springdale Mountain Northeast RS
Pioneer Mine Peak P300 RS
West Sawtooth Peak P300 RS
Sharp BM P500 RS
Titanothere Point P300 RS
Peak 5,260ft P300
Red Pass Peak P300 RS
Titus Peak P300 RS
Peak 5,605ft P300

Wed, Apr 10, 2019
Red Pass Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 GPX Profile


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.

Coba Mountain

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 highway fencing, 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 benchmark and open views with a nice one of the mountain's shadow looking west over Sarcobatus Flat. Sue & Vic Henney had left a register here in 2015, 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 dirt road makes the higher summit to the southwest a drive-up. There is a concrete pad and a small USGS instrument found there. The more interesting summit is the lower NE one, requiring a quarter mile of class 2-3 scrambling to reach the summit where an odd survey tower-ish structure 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 the NE shoulder of the peak. It takes only a few minutes of rocky cross-country travel to reach the highpoint. To the west 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 Sawtooth Mtn 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. West Sawtooth 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 a lower point to the southeast with vertical cliffs on two sides. I went up a class 2 ravine on the northeast side of this point, then angled right to the higher summit, taking all of about 15min. There is some additional class 3 just below the summit, though nothing tricky. There are nice views overlooking most of the Bullfrog Hills.

Sharp BM

Found about 4mi southwest of Sawtooth, Sharp BM 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 the boundary. This same road passes along the base of the peak on the north side, getting one within about 3/4mi. It took half an hour to reach the summit 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 views 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.

Titanothere Point

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 suffered this fate 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, Titanothere. It's located halfway between the two passes on the south side of the road. After crossing a short, flattish area, it's a steep climb up to the rocky summit with cliffs on three sides, overlooking Titanothere Canyon to the south and the upper part of the drainage looking west and east. Only a short bit of easy class 3 is needed near the top.

Peak 5,260ft

Found only half a mile southwest of Titanothere Point, this unnamed summit 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, all class 2.

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 Southwest Ridge is a series of rocky pinnacles and cliffs that look more difficult upon first impressions. There is a use trail that makes it much easier, however, going most of the way up the ridge to the summit, following close to the northwest side 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.

Titus Peak

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 few historic buildings 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 South and East Faces are fraught with cliffs, though they may offer class 4-5 scrambling routes. I hiked north up the wash 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 the NE Ridge is gained, the going gets easier and it becomes obvious that the easier line is off the north side 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.

Peak 5,605ft

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 to the south. This was a slabby open book 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 upper valley where the 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 pleasant walking 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 Titus Canyon drainage that spreads across two states and covers more than 20 square miles.

It would be after 6:30p before I returned to the jeep, near sunset and making 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...


Candace Skalet comments on 11/12/19:
Re the Coba Mt summit register: "...all but one of the half dozen names among the usual suspects." LOL, I'm curious, how many registers do I (or anyone else) have to sign before becoming one of the usual suspects? I signed that one just below Brian French, but anyone looking at your pic wouldn't know that. LMAO!!
I was counting you among the Usual Suspects. It was Deborah Stevenson whose name I didn't recognize. Your name is prominently at the top of the second photo.
Candace Skalet comments on 02/19/20:
Tee-hee! That's what I get for not clicking through all the photos! :)
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