Sunrise Mountain P900 RS
Peak 2,980ft P300 RS
Tracked Peak RS

Sat, Mar 11, 2023
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profiles: 1 2


I dropped my wife off at the Mandalay Convention Center where she was reffing a girls' volleyball tournament, then headed to the northeast side of town for some peakbagging fun on my own. Temperatures would reach the low 70s today, but a stiff wind would keep things nice and chill - good tshirt weather all day. All of the day's peaks can be found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles.

Sunrise Mtn - Peak 2,980ft

These two summits are found north of the ever-popular Frenchman Mountain, all on BLM lands. I used the Frenchman Mtn TH off Lake Mead Blvd and started from there. I crossed the highway to the north and went up through a trashy area on some old roads, aiming for a low saddle to the northeast. I was surprised to pick up a well-maintained trail going over this saddle and down the north side into the drainage on the south side of Sunrise Mtn. The trail was ridiculously over-ducked, many of which didn't survive the day. I followed the trail down to the bottom of the drainage. There is an old road going through this drainage, though no longer open to vehicles. It took some doing, but they managed to block all access points. There is a shooting range about a mile downstream, and on a Saturday morning it was alive with the sharp report of gunfire, resulting in much lead being embedded in the hillsides. To the northwest is Nellis Air Force Base, and one could hear the reverberating sounds of jet engines regularly launching military aircraft into the wild blue yonder. This was not your Wilderness outing, by any stretch.

My route to Sunrise Mtn was not the easiest or most efficient, nor was it as good as I'd hoped. I chose to ascend the long SW Ridge from the bottom of the drainage, an ascent of more than 1,000ft. The ridge was primarily limestone and had some decent scrambling, but not enough to recommend it, particularly since there are several false summits to go over before the highpoint is located. In hindsight, I think a more direct ascent up from the south or southeast sides would have been better. In all, I spent about an hour and a half to reach the summit. There are two closely-spaced points of nearly the same height. A geocache/register is found at the slightly lower SW point. The higher point appears to be to the northeast where the remains of an airway beacon are found.

After visiting both points, I returned back along the upper part of the SW Ridge and made my way over to Peak 2,980ft, about a mile to the WSW. The connecting ridgeline is fairly tame and enjoyable, offering views to Las Vegas, under very clear skies today. It took a little under an hour to get between the two. A register was found in a sealed, black plastic bag, found inside a small cairn. It had been left by Harlan Stockman in 2021. ZeeJay had been the most recent visitor, only three days before I arrived. After a short break, I descended off the SE side, a mellower effort than the ascent of Sunrise or the traverse to Peak 2,980ft had been. Once at the bottom of the drainage, I used a combination of old road and the trail that I had found earlier. I went back over the low saddle and down to the TH, about an hour after leaving the last summit.

Tracked Peak

This is a smallish summit near I-15 and the Apex Gypsum works. It is located on BLM lands, inside the Las Vegas Dunes Recreation Lands, also called Nellis Dunes. A network of OHV roads criss-cross the area, making the summit nearly a drive-up. Google Maps had me taking the back way from the Frenchman Mtn TH, going through the PABCO Gypsum works and Spectrum Solar farm. Signs on either end of this paved road declare it a Private Road, not open to the public. I paused when I saw this, but was loath to turn around and take the very long route back towards Las Vegas and around Nellis AFB. I was happy to find the road had no gates, no armed security forces, no one that stopped me, anyhow. I turned off the pavement when NE of Tracked Peak, and drove about 1/2 of the way to the summit, pausing where the road gets steep, rocky and loose. The Jeep could have managed the remaining distance, but I thought it would chew up more rubber than it was worth. I simply walked the remaining 1/3mi to the summit, including the short bit of cross-country to the highpoint. I found no register, left none. The dunes area looked like it would be a fun place to explore. I was surprised to see no other vehicles driving out there on a Saturday.

Dry BM

This is a P1K located in the southern part of the Arrow Canyon Range on the east side of US93. I parked off the highway at the base of the meandering West Ridge and went up from there. From the beginning, one realizes there are dozens of limestone cliff bands all over this mountain, some easy to get through, others significantly more challenging. I had read this ahead of time and had planned to do the harder West Ridge on the ascent and the easier North Ridge on descent. The West Ridge had some good fun, though not really a lot of scrambling. The class 3 stuff was all short segments through the bands, then longer stretches of class 2 rubble until the next band is reached. There were some route-finding challenges to keep it interesting, and overall I thought it was a good route. It took me a little under an hour and a half to reach the summit. I found the benchmark, but no register, oddly. Surely this one has had a register in the past. After exhausting all the possible hiding places, I left one of mine under a small cairn at the benchmark.

My planned descent off the North Ridge did not take long to fall apart. I got down only a few hundred feet along the ridge when I was distracted by the steeper route off the west side and the possibility of making a shorter loop of the outing. Steep, with much loose limestone rubble, but not really dangerous and a good deal of route-finding fun to find my way down through the various cliff bands. After getting myself down to easier terrain near the bottom, I looked back up at the imposing cliff bands and wondered some how I managed to get through it all - certainly I would never have thought of going up that way once I'd seen that view. It took about an hour and a quarter to make my back down to the Jeep from the summit. A fun day, but that was all the energy I had for the day - just after 3p and time to head back to town. I would return to the area the next day...


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This page last updated: Sun Mar 19 15:36:25 2023
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