Muddy Mountain

15-Feb-04

By: Gary Craig

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MUDDY PEAKóSECOND CLASS

No, the title isnít an mclictment of the worthiness of Muddy Peak with respect to the DPS Peaks List.

Really, itís just a declaration of a climb of Muddy Peak, newest addition to the List, via a class 2 route from the east and southeast side, last winter.

From February 13-15 2004, I had the pleasure of participating in climbs of Moapa Peak, Mormon Peak, and Muddy Peak with Ron Bartell and Christine Mitchell, Patty Rambert, Ron Hudson, Jan St. Amand, John Thau, and our trip organizer, Greg Vernon. We had successful climbs of all three peaks and great weather every day. We had to deal with a bit of wind on Moapa and some new-fallen snow on Mormon (a fine unlisted peak just a short distance north of Moapa), but no real difficulties. We encountered long dirt roads, but with not-too-confusing road navigation, to our roadheads for each of these two peaks.

For our last peak, Muddy, Ron had investigated a route from the east side that shares not a single footstep with the traditional route through Hidden Valley. This route enters an east-side canyon farther south in the N-S range that Muddy Peak crowns. Since we had multiple vehicles, Ron, Christine, and I opted for this new route, while the rest of the group would attempt the nowstandard DPS route. The driving approach for this route is the same as for the normal driving route along the Bitter Springs Trail until one would turn onto the rightbranching fainter road at UTM 089243 (elevation 890 m, 2920 ft.). Instead, proceed straight ahead (a bit over 2 miles) on the main road which continues SE and then veers more E, to where the road climbs out of a wash (UTM 106235) just a few yards before a road junction. We parked here in the wash where some BLM red stakes warn ORVís against further travel. As on the standard route, a high clearance vehicle is helpful on sections of these roads.

From our lonely parking spot, we had our sights set on the canyon mouth at UTM 087193 (about 3400í), which is pretty much due east of the summit. To reach this point, we traversed mostly south for most of the distance and then turned west up the alluvial fan. There were some signs of illegal off-road motor travel near where we parked, and later on occasional signs of ranching and the presence of cattle, but mostly this was very quiet country. There is some cryptobiotic crust along the route, so future travelers should do their best to step around these fragile areas when possible. After crossing a low ridge to reach the canyon mouth, we decided that we could have made a basically straight-line approach from our parking spot instead, which would have saved some distance, and would have been about the same in terms of down-and-up when crossing gullies. A route that stays closer to the main N-S range will encounter more elevation change due to even more wash and gully.

The lower part of this canyon is terrain very familiar to DPSers: a mild-to-moderate inclined wash with a mixture of boulders, sand, and a bit of brush. Walking was pretty easy here though and we made good progress in the main canyon, ignoring side canyon options, proceeding first W, then SW, then twisting roughly NW as we climbed. We left the bottom of the canyon at about 4200í (-.l270m), ascending the slope to the north at one of the various available spots. The canyon appears to divide several times in this area on the map, but there is a significant canyon option leading almost directly NW to the summit. We followed this route, either in the canyon bottom or the slabs to the right (E), the rest of the way. There were a few slabs here that are at the high end of class 2 but nothing really difficult to be sure, and there is none of the rockfall danger as in the 3rd~class chimney on the north side standard route.

Just below the summit we heard the voices of Ron H. and Greg, who had reached the summit via the standard route just before we did. Our route from the east side had taken about 3:45 (one way, up), and we broke out lunch as the rest of our friends made their way up the standard route to the top. Skies were clear once again and we enjoyed fine 360-degree views of southern Nevada and Lake Mead in particular.

For the descent, we did a key-swap, where Ron, Christine, and I descended the standard route with most of the others, and Ron Hudson reversed our ascent route to retrieve our vehicle. This worked out pretty well as we all arrived at the standard trailhead about 3 hours after leaving the summit.

I can recommend our ascent route for those seeking a technically simpler path to the summit than the standard route. Most obviously, it completely avoids the steep debris-filled chimney just below the summit, and also avoids the loose, cruddy, slopes above the 1370m saddle. The downside is that one misses the colorful and scenic sandstone formations in Hidden Valley that are the highlight of the standard route. Either way, Iím sure youíll have fun.


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