Talc Hills HP
Peak 4,980ft P900
Dublin Hills HP P750 RS

Jan 15, 2018

With: Tom Becht
Iris Ma
Karl Fieberling
Matthew Holliman
Matt Yaussi
Nga Do

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2 3 Profiles: 1 2 3


Our third and last day in Death Valley NP had an easier agenda than the previous two, making for a more relaxed pace. I had two hikes planned - one to the highpoint of the Talc Hills south of Salsberry Pass, the other a P900 and second highest summit in the Greenwater Range. We had enough time at the end of the day to tackle the highpoint of the Dublin Hills just outside Death Valley, an easy bonus. Tom and Karl decided to climb the DPS's Smith Peak in the morning but would join us for the last summit in the afternoon.

Talc Hills HP

We left our campsite along Badwater Rd around 7a, heading south to SR178 and then east to the upper end of Bradbury Wash. There is a side road forking south that one can use to get a little closer. We didn't find it at first and simply parked along SR178 (Jubilee Pass Rd), but after finding it with tread marks and in decent shape, we retrieved the Matt's Forester and drove it to the Wilderness boundary about 3/4mi from the highway. From there we were about 2.5mi from our summit. The Talc Hills are oddly defined as a subrange of the Black Mtns which themselves are a subrange of the Amargosa Range. As such, the "highpoint" isn't all that high and has little prominence. In fact, it was necessary to first hike to a point higher still, then drop down before climbing to the summit. The first half of the route was made easier by the continuing road that ran southeast up the drainage. It was no longer driveable, but readily followed on foot. We then turned south and southwest to climb up to a saddle, about 50ft higher than our summit which we could now see another 3/4mi to the southwest. Matt suggested we follow the connecting ridgeline between the two, which we did, but it didn't turn out to be the easiest way. We had to climb up higher still before then dropping to a low saddle on the east side of the highpoint which didn't save much elevation loss. On the way back we would take the more direct route between the summit and the first saddle which I think went a little faster. Both routes were standard class 2 desert terrain, easily negotiated. Sue & Vic Henney had left a register here in 2011. I recognized the other entries as the usual suspects with Bob Sumner making the last visit only a few months earlier. The whole outing took us a little over 2.5hrs, getting us back to the car by 10:30a. Matthew and Nga decided to get an early start for the long drive back to the Bay Area, leaving just three of us for the second peak.

Peak 4,980ft

We continued east on SR178 over Salsberry Pass towards Shoshone, to the junction with Furnace Creek Wash Rd. Iris and I left our cars here and once again drove with Matt in his Subaru, this time heading north through Greenwater Valley. The road here is in decent shape that any vehicle can drive, but it's quite long and washboarded in places. It was nice to have decent clearance and suitable suspension for driving it at a higher speed than the van would have been able to. It was noon before we had driven the 17mi up Greenwater Valley, eventually parking alongside the roadway about 2mi WSW of Peak 4,980ft. Our summit was easily visible to the east, an unimpressive rise in the distance in the middle of the range, occupying space between the range highpoint to the north and Brown Peak to the southeast. We spent an hour hiking the distance across the flats and then up the West Ridge to the summit. The Greenwater Range is not as high or impressive as other Death Valley ranges, but the highpoints do provide nice views to the east overlooking the huge Amargosa Valley. Finding no register at the top, we left one before heading back via an alternate route along the SW Ridge before crossing the flats a second time. Iris and I had some amusement at Matt's expense as we followed him on the return. He had been carrying his GPSr in his upturned palm for most of the way and we naturally assumed he was leading us back to the car. It turns out he wasn't paying much attention to it at all and simply navigating by dead reckoning, so when we got closer to the roadway and I happened to check my own GPSr, we had to ask where he was taking us. With only a modest detour as a result, we were back to the car by 2:20p.

Dublin Hills HP

We drove back out to SR178 where we found Karl and Tom relaxing by their vehicles, parked near ours. They seemed almost annoyed that we disturbed their tranquil scene but readily agreed to join us for the Dublin Hills HP when I suggested it. This small set of hills is located west of Shoshone just outside Death Valley NP. We drove all our vehicles a few miles east on SR178, parked alongside the roadway and hoofed it from there. The climb is fairly easy, a little over a mile each way with about 800ft of gain, good footing over mostly limestone rock. We encountered a short section of steep but easy class 3 on the way up and the way down. We took about half an hour to reach the highpoint by 4p, the air growing cooler towards the end of the day with high clouds moving over the region. There was a benchmark from 1926, one of the oldest I've seen in the desert. Finding no register again, we left one of ours to give future visitors something to scrawl their names on. The town of Shoshone can be seen from the summit to the east and it was to there we headed for dinner at the Crowbar Cafe, the second time in a week we'd dined there. Afterwards we found a place on the south side of town to spend the night with plans to tag some summits around the area the next morning...

Matt's Video


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