Blue Eagle Mountain, Corduroy Mountain, Currant Mountain, Duckwater Peak, Mount Moriah
By: Campy Camphausen
A special centennial outing by three Sierra Club chapters was organized by Vicky Hoover of the San Francisco Bay chapter. The purpose was to acquaint peak climbers with infrequently visited ranges in Eastern Nevada. The peaks we climbed are located either within the 1990-enacted U.S. Forest Service Nevada wilderness bill areas, or within areas which should be considered in the future for F.S. or Bureau of Land Management wilderness designation, I served as Vicky's assistant leader during this week-long trip.
Besides Vicky Hoover and myself, our Desert Peak Section people Included Fred Johnson, Mary Sue Miller, Gall Hanna, and Pete Yamagata. The S,E Bay and Toiyabe chapters were represented equally among our 17 participants. Serving as our "guide and mentor" was Marjorie Sill of Reno, who worked tirelessly, eventually succeeding, to bring about the 1990 Nevada Wilderness,
Our three climbing destinations were Currant Mtn, the Schell Pks, and Mt Moriah (the Schells, and many other high peaks, are not yet wilderness-protected). All are located around Ely, Nevada, and our various drives passed through the town often enough for us to become familiar with Its restaurants and shopping mall, as well as its two museums and the Ranger district office.
Corduroy Mountain (9600'+), 28 Jun 92We met in the morning at the roadside cafe and gas stop of Currant. With Vicky and Marjorie leading, we then caravaned to the pleasant White River Campground, where we found the river to be really only a small creek. Some of us decided on an afternoon warm-up hike. We drove up the road to a place marked Saddle Spr on the 15' Currant Mtn quadrangle. From here we hiked along a use trail west to a saddle, and followed a connecting ridge to the north summit of Corduroy Mtn (from a distance its summit ridge appears convoluted, thus its name.) A strong head-wind was encountered along the-3/4-mile ridge to the slightly higher south summit.
Currant Mountain (11,513'), 29 Jun 92The highpoint of the White Pine Range is Currant Mtn. We hiked up one of the canyons leading to the ridge south of the peak. Although we climbed in a pine forest, loose limestone scree proved difficult and some people turned back. We gained the summit ridge where we viewed the impressively barren and steep-appearing summit. The climb was easy, and many in the group continued the traverse northward below the serrated ridgeline to climb Duckwater Pk.
Blue Eagle Mtn (9561'), 1 Jul 92We drove east of Ely to the Timber Creek forest camp in the Schell Creek Range. A few inches of snow fell on our camp during the night and our plan to traverse from the North to the South Schell peaks gave way to climbing a lower, less storm-affected peak. After a day of bumming around and waiting for the rain to let up, we drove back by way of Currant to the BLM administered northern part of the Grant Range. After hiking up beautiful Box Cyn, which circles north and east of Blue Eagle Mtn, we passed over a forested plateau, and later some brush had to be dealt with. We finally reached the open limestone ridge and were soon on the summit. This day proved to be our longest; our descent via a "direct" route actually took hours longer, and we didn't make it to camp until 11 pm.
Mt Moriah (12,067), 4 Jul 92The choice of a backpack to climb this peak, up Hendrys Crk within the northern unit of the Snake Range, was excellent. We enjoyed a fine 7 mile hike within aspen to a sheepherder's camp along the creek at about 9200'. Our climb followed the pack trail marked on the Mt Moriah 7.5' provisional sheet, to a prominent ridge where we left the trail and hiked upward through a mixture of pines including bristlecone. The summit, once again, was barren limestone. With this peak a splendid week ended, and the climbs gave many of us an insight into the urgency for seeking additional wilderness protection for these Nevada ranges.
Mt Moriah is a quality peak from several points of view, Our recent tri-Chapter eastern Nevada peaks trip used the backpack approach up Hendrys Canyon. This canyon can be a day climb route but it would be one long day (see footnote).
Scenic values are found at close range within the geologically interesting quartzite outcrops bordering the lower canyon which transition to vari-colored limes on the barren summit. Plants and trees are awesome in their occurrence and variety: bristlecone pines appearing at only 7000 feet elevation; wildflower types which blew away our botany-trained participant; and early dates of the inscriptions carved on trail-side aspen by turn-of-the-century Basque sheepherders. We camped near the creek at an old sheepherder camp.
Summit views of the high neighboring peaks encouraged the promise to make future return visits. Wheeler Pk loomed darkly to the south but we chose to eat lunch while facing the sunlit view to the north. We hiked down to the plateau known as The Table and found that its golden color came from a profusion of flowers which were identified as buttercups.
I hope the above will clarify why I believe Mt Moriah would be a worthy DPS list addition. I seldom suggest peak additions but this one definitely meets the criteria. You should know in passing that my opinion calls for deleting one of the unworthy DPS peaks each time a new peak is added.
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