Windbreak Peak P300 RS
Gold Strike Mountain P300 RS
Pass BM P300 RS
Goldstrike Pass Peak P300 RS
Easter Island Peak RS
Leaning Arch Peak RS

Dec 7, 2021

With: Eric Smith

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX


On the first full day of a 13-day roadtrip, Eric and I were in the Boulder City area of Southern Nevada. I had in mind a collection of summits found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles around the Boulder City Area. The first three of these are located in the Black Canyon Wilderness east of the city. It's not a very Wilderness-y area, with a ridiculous number of transmission lines just to the north from Hoover Dam, the sights and sounds of traffic on newly constructed Interstate 11, and the drone of sight-seeing helicopters flying overhead. Still, it has it's own charms with rugged volcanic terrain, little vegetation, and lonely summits.

Windbreak Peak

Though our parking spot was slightly different, we essentially used the route posted by Eric Kassan on PB. We drove to the end of the short cherry stem into the Wilderness on the NW side of the peak. From there, it's about 3/4mi each way with about 300ft of gain over easy terrain up the NW Ridge. Overcast and haze muted views on the peak, and the rest of day as well. Views take in the Black Canyon Wilderness, but Lake Mead and the Colorado River cannot be seen from the top.

Goldstrike Mountain

This summit overlooks the Hoover Dam and the Colorado River from a distance, though much closer than Windbreak. Others have made big outings of this via Goldstrike Canyon to the north. We chose the easier way, though still some challenges. Black Canyon Overlook Rd can be used to get within a mile of this summit. The road skirts the northern boundary of the Wilderness, a somewhat rough road that the Jeep had no problem navigating. Our starting point near the end of this road is higher than the summit with some significant elevation loss and (re)gain to reach it. There are several gullies descending to the east one might use. Others have found the closer one to the north to have difficulties, but we found it no harder than class 3 on the way back. Props to Eric for following me up the gully, knowing we might not be able to negotiate it. On the way to the summit, we used the southern gully that others had used since we knew it would work. It was a neat route, narrowing just below the start, then opening up onto volcanic slabs that line the gully going lower. Where it looks like fun scrambling, we left the gully as others had to traverse out of it and continue east towards Gold Strike. We went around the south side of an intermediate point, dropped a bit further into another drainage, then ascended Gold Strike from the west, taking about 70min in all. Along with the cool views previously mentioned, there was a register dating to 2013, left by Chris Meyer. There were about 7 pages all told, not very busy, but not too obscure, either.

On our way back, we traversed higher than before in order to get a good look at the northern gully. From a distance, none of it seemed difficult, save for a short stretch near the top that we couldn't discern. I felt there were other options around there that might work if we could get up the headwall, and was happy to find Eric game to follow me. There were two class 3 sections in all, right near the top as we suspected. The first was an airy little traverse on descent but not great rock. It was easy to see how it might look too sketchy when viewed from above. The other was a straightforward bit of headwall that goes straight up with good holds and little exposure. Above these two points, it becomes class 2 and we had only a few minutes' walk back to the Jeep.

Pass BM

This one is quite easy. We drove back to Goldstrike Pass where the two spur roads we used originated. We then drove partway up from there, to the higher towers near the base of the peak's West Ridge. From there, it was less than 15min to reach the summit. We found a benchmark, views of the Goldstrike Casino to the north, and a 2010 register with seven pages of entries. I recognized more than half the names found there, including my nemisis, Laura Newman, in 2015. Hello ... Newman.

Goldstrike Pass Peak

Our last summit in the immediate area was outside the Wilderness, northeast of Boulder City. It's a near drive-up, but getting there from Goldstrike Pass is a bit tricky. Ownership of the land in this area is uncertain. All of the undeveloped land between the city and Wilderness is within Boulder City limits. It may be reserved for future development, but has been allowed to exist as an informal OHV area. I had studied the satellite views to see that there were two possible routes to Goldstrike Pass Peak. The southern route was uncertain. We tried that first, but found without airing down the tires, I could not get the Jeep up a particularly steep section of loose dirt just out of the wash we traveled, even with both lockers engaged. After 3-4 attempts, I gave up and took us to the southwestern route that offered us no such difficulties. To be fair, it was steep and graveley towards the end, so the 4WD was a big help. We parked near the end of the road at a high saddle immediately east of the peak. The walk to the summit takes only a few minutes where there is a sloppy pile of rocks, a small iron cross memorial to a pet named "Skeet" and a register of recent origin. We also walked the short distance to the slightly lower, PB-only "Skeet Hill" to the west, where there is a flagpole and another register. Seems the name Skeet was misplaced from the previous summit? In any event, mission accomplished and almost 2p, we drove back to Boulder City where Eric decided to take it easy and go off to find us a suitable campsite while I went after a few bonus peaks.

Easter Island - Leaning Arch Peak

These two summits are found just above Railroad Pass, Interstate 11 and the Railroad Pass Casino, whose claim to fame is as the longest continuously operated casino in the state. Go them. The two peaks are found in the River Mtns that separate Boulder City from Henderson/Las Vegas. Neither has much prominence, and are part of a long, sinuous crest along the range, leading up to Bootleg Mtn three miles to the northeast. My route was the obvious one that others have used previously, starting from the casino to the southwest. I walked up a paved spur road signed for "No Public Use" that leads to a water tank and what appears to be helicopter landing pads. Not sure why the signage, as the road soon leads to the perfectly public River Mountains Loop Trail, a paved, multi-use trail connecting Boulder City and Henderson around the base of the range. I crossed this, and the adjacent railroad tracks (it would be a great disappointment if Railroad Pass didn't have a rail line running through it) to start cross-country up the volcanic slopes. The overcast had grown thicker and was threatening to drop rain at any moment, so I made quick work of both. I was atop Easter Island in about 30min (perhaps named by Purcell for the rock art at the summit), and then on to Leaning Arch Peak in another 20min (never did find the arch). Both summits had registers, though the one on Easter Island was a bit of a mess due to moisture. Both were left by Kevin Humes of the LVMC. I took an alternate route on the way back that went around the south side of Easter Island on sheep trails, easier than my ascent route. Just above the casino, I came across a small homeless camp that had been abandoned. Someone had used some muscle and time to construct a rock wall here that kept the place out of view from the folks below, but it looks like it didn't work out for the long haul. I did find a small LED Coleman lantern that needed batteries and a little TLC to work good as new.

After finishing up, I returned to Boulder City and found Eric camped out on the desert flats south of town. This was a much better location than the one we'd used the previous evening. We even had a campfire in an existing fire ring for a few hours while the skies slowly drizzled moisture on us...


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