Sun, Feb 17, 2019
Today's hikes were in the mountains northwest of Las Vegas, the westernmost extensions of La Madre Mountain, a massive limestone collection found north of Red Rock Canyon NCA. With Iris running a bit late, I drove from the Strip where I was staying to meet up with Bill at the end of Far Hills Rd. He had spent the night sleeping in his car near there, experience first rain and then snow during the night. While waiting for Iris, I explored the area west of where we met to see if the dirt roads were accessible. They were not, due to a new development getting underway and a massive trench that had been dug cutting off access to the road I had hoped to drive. My backup plan was to use the Buckskin Shadows TH parking further north that I had used on a previous visit to Summerlin Peak two years earlier. I texted the new meeting spot to Iris while Bill and I prepared to move our cars 10min up the road. As luck would have it we all arrived at the TH parking area at the same time and were off and running (ok, walking) just before 7:30a.
We followed the trail south as it contoured around the base of the mountain for only a short distance before heading upslope towards the Southeast Ridge. The ridge climbs steeply for almost 2,000ft in less than a mile and it would take us over an hour just for this ridgeline portion. The climbing is mostly class 2 but there are a few spicey class 3 sections where cliffs need to be negotiated. There is an obvious, huge cliff along the ridge that we avoided by crossing a drainage and going up through a break in the cliff to the adjacent ridge to the north. On my previous visit I had downclimbed some stiff class 3-4 through that obvious cliff, but had forgotten it would work on this go around. There is more class 3 fun in the final 100ft or so to the summit as the ridgeline narrows considerably and grows steepest.
It was 9:10a by the time we arrived on top. We were bundled up from the wind and cold which would not leave us the whole day. Temps stayed in the 30s at the higher elevations above 4,000ft and though not as windy as the previous days, it was enough to have us putting on additional jackets each time we reached a summit. There was a busy register on Summerlin, a bit battered, but useable. As we were starting off again, heading to Mt. Woody further west, we spotted someone far ahead of us along the ridgeline. We joked that it was Robert chasing us again, but of course it was someone who had simply gotten an earlier start on us. As we continued along the ridgeline gaining more altitude, we encountered more snow and found ourselves following in the snowy footprints of the person ahead of us. By the time we reached Mt. Woody another 300ft higher at 5,300ft, the other person had nearly reached a further point along the ridge, Little Red Rock Peak. We took a short break at Mt. Woody, disappointed to find no register here. It would take us almost 20min to reach that next point, Little Red Rock, where we found the other gentleman had waited for our arrival. He turned out to be Jon Avery, a 26yr-old local from the Las Vegas area. He was doing almost the same outing as us, also for the first time, and planned to continue up to Mt. Gottlieb, our final stop. We got along like brethren souls and ended up hiking the rest of the day together. We all signed a register we found here left by Harlan a year earlier, already with 4 pages of entries. We had one tricky section to downclimb on our way to Gottlieb, but otherwise it was a class 2 exercise in snow avoidance. Though the underlying limestone gave us great footing, our boots were wet by now and we had had well enough of the wet snow that could occasionally be slippery.
It was 11a by the time we reached the 5,800-foot summit of Mt. Gottlieb, our highest elevation for the day. We were near the lower layer of clouds that permeated the sky and we would have only sporadic views from the summit. The summit had a more serious ammo box to hold a far busier register. We signed this one too while snacking on delicious chips Bill had been carrying around and sharing, along with Iris' signature Halloween candy selection. Because of the weather uncertainty, we decided to take the safe exit off the mountain rather than explore the unknown South Ridge. We returned back to the saddle with Little Red Rock and descended the gully to the south, mostly class 2 with a few short bits of class 3. Jon had parked his Suburu at the end of West Lake Mead Blvd which made for a shorter return. It would be 12:30p before we found our way back to Jon's car, then a 10min drive to get us back to our other vehicles.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Mt. Gottlieb - Mt. Golden Eagle
This page last updated: Tue Feb 26 20:23:50 2019
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