Eagle Mountain #2
By: Abe Siemens
18 people turned out in Shoshone, southeast of Death Valley. Saturday afternoon in clear, cool weather, several of the group enjoyed the refreshing waters of Shoshone Hot Springs (However, no bikinis were evident).. Camp that night was near an old mine a mile southwest of town.
After a warm breakfast in Shoshone Cafe, 15 of the party drove north some 14 miles to a point due west of Eagle Peak, a precipitous rock outcropping in the barren Amargosa Desert. Cars were caravaned cross-country to a point just below the prominent gully that descends the west face of the peak.
Leader Andy Smatko guided the group up a steep chute just left of the prominent gully, over to the left (north) flank of the jagged summit ridge, and along an up-and-down bench to a point just below the summit block. Several short pitches of enjoyable class three got everyone to the top. The panoramic summit view encompassed quite a number of our desert peaks. Lothar Kolbig pointed out the trickling Amargosa River, whose source in Thirsty Canyon on Pahute Mesa and outlet in the depths of Death Valley are only about twenty miles apart, although the river flows some 150 miles.
Descent was via the same route. Everyone was out by early afternoon, although some anxious moments were experienced when one climber left the group without consent and descended the mountain himself by a different route. Leaders should in the future, make if clear that the party stays together.
Dominating the southern half of the Santa Rosa Range and overlooking Borrego State Park on one side and the Salton Sea on the other, is 6623-foot Rabbit Peak. From any direction this DPS emblem peak is a tough work-out, but this does not stop people from attempting the climb. Most of those who make the long ascent swear never to return, yet many of these same climbers return to this giant hogback mountain time and again.
An enthusiastic group of 40 Desert Peakers and guests turned out at the below sea-Level roadhead prepared to test the enchantment of "Wild Rabbit". Besides a fair-sized contingent from the Hundred Peaks Section (Rabbit is also a 100 Peak), the party included such seldom-seen DPSers as Virgil Sisson, Parker Severson, and Louise Werner.
The large party followed an old mining trail across the dry desert floor and up onto the rocky alluvial fan that sprawls out from Rabbit's east flank. The skies were clear and warm as the climbers troubled with water-heavy packs up the Long ridge to a dry campsite on a cactus-covered plateau just below Rabbit's giant hogback. On the way up, one girl somehow got off route and ended up about a thousand feet below the ridge. Frank Aide lived up to his name and descended to rescue the maiden in distress.
That evening, a balmy breeze refreshed the tired climbers as they gazed down at the twinkling lights around the Salton Sea far below.
Sunday morning 33 of the group scrambled up the steep southeast ridge of Rabbit, around a rocky highpoint, and across the long summit hogback to the highpoint. For the ascent, the group was divided into fast and slow parties Eleven were sent on ahead under the leadership of Jess Logan. This fast group reached the summit in 2 hours from camp and were on their way down by the time the main party of 22 reached the top. The two regular leaders stayed with the main group, which took an extra hour for the ascent. They were joined by three one-day marathoners - Ruth Karimi, Jim Powers, and Ron Jones - who had left the cars early that morning. Ron started after the other two and reached the summit 4-1/2 hour's after leaving the roadhead - possibly a record.
36 signed the new Sierra Club summit register and congratulated Lothar Kolbig on attaining his emblem. A tired but satisfied Parker Severson wrote the following summit lament into the new register:
Alas, what prompts we mortals so vain, to pursue this mighty sore-muscle game. Plodding with sweat and tears through storm and rain, to crown these noble summits with our name?
The summit stay was short. The long return was via a little-known spring below the east flank of the peak. Flashlights danced across the desert floor as the last weary climbers moved toward the cars well after dark. "Wild Rabbit" had again been tamed.
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