Ugly Brown Lump P1K RS
East La Madre Peak P500 RS

Sun, Apr 3, 2022

With: Tom Becht

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile


Tom and I were back in the Spring Mtns for a second day, favoring the higher elevations due to warmer-than-usual temperatures in the Las Vegas area. Today we were after a pair of summits found in Courtney Pucell's Rambles & Scrambles, at the far northeast end of La Madre Mountain. This miles-long ridgeline forms the southern boundary of Kyle Canyon and overlooks the Red Rocks area lying lower to the south.

We started around 7:30a from a BLM road in Deer Pasture, about a mile WNW of Ugly Brown Lump. Soon after starting up one of the ridgelines leading to the crest, we encountered signs for the La Madre Mtn Wilderness boundary. Most of the day's hiking would be within the Wilderness. It's a pleasant enough hike up broken limestone slopes, vegetation sparse enough to be of no hindrance. Once at the crest after a 1,500-foot climb, the views open dramatically to the east where the terrain drops off sharply to the Las Vegas Valley below. We reached the summit after an hour and a quarter, finding a busy register that had been most recently visited by Sue & Vic Henney a month earlier. The peak's name, bestowed by Purcell, seemed an odd one. Perhaps from some angles it may look brown, but how does it look "ugly"? We found almost all limestone which is light gray, usually. So it goes. There's a fine view looking southwest to La Madre with the long, meandering ridgeline connected to it, and it was this to which we next turned our attention.

There's a low saddle between Ugly Brown Lump and East La Madre. A BLM roads cuts a corridor through the Wilderness and goes over this saddle, providing what is probably the easiest route to either summit. I think we somehow missed this factoid at the time which made our outing longer than it needed to be, but it still made for a nice loop that we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. The most interesting part of the loop was the descent from Ugly Brown Lump to the saddle, though this was not obvious when we started down from the summit. It starts off pretty tame as the ridgeline continues south, but after about 20min, the real descent begins - about 1,000ft in a little over half a mile. Portions of the ridge are quite cliffy and route-finding becomes tricky. The going is no more than class 3, but there seemed to be plenty of it.

We reached the saddle around 9:45a, then began the longer climb up to East La Madre. It was about 2mi distance and would take us almost two hours in two increments. It starts with a very steep climb of more than 1,000ft before leveling off for half a mile. Then, a final climb of another 1,000ft to reach the summit. An ammo box held a very messy register which I don't recall if we signed or not. Better, we enjoyed the views from the summit which were outstanding. There is a complex ridgeline connecting us to higher La Madre about two miles to the southwest. Some of it looked quite challenging. To the south, were Gateway and Damsel Peaks, detached from the main crest and better approached from the east. I hadn't been to these summits, so they would be high on my list on a future visit.

For the descent, we chose to descend directly off the north side of the summit. Tom was a bit skeptical, noting that the other GPX tracks found on PB had used other ridgelines to the west or east. After I suggested we didn't have to take the same way down, we decided to part ways. But a minute later I heard Tom call down, "Does your way work?" It looked OK, but of course there's no telling for sure, so I replied, "I think it does!" He joined me. For a 1,000ft we descended with no problems, working our way down much limestone talus, correcting course where needed. The route worked nicely right up until it didn't and we found ourselves looking down into a narrow, horribly brushy gorge where the ridge we followed ended. This wouldn't do. We had to backtrack a few hundred yards to gain the next ridge to the east that would allow us to continue our descent further. This had a few short sections of class 3 that kept us wondering if we'd cliff out a second time, but it worked all the way to the bottom. Once there, the wash was wide enough and filled with gravel so that we would have no bushwhacking to contend with. We followed the wash for 15-20min until we came upon a BLM road we could take back to the Jeep, finishing up by 2:15p. There was plenty of daylight left for additional fun, but we were both spent by this time and chose to call it a day. Back to the city for beers and food we went. We still had another half day for some climbing in the area, but I told Tom I was ready to head home, my body ready for some rest after more than two weeks on the road...

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