Nopah Range, Pahrump Point
By: Bill T. Russell
Fifteen climbers met on the Chicago Valley road about 1/2 mile east of Hwy 178 on Saturday at 0630. We drove another 1/2 ml. further east to an abandoned well with electric pump which is easy to locate because it is at the end of a somewhat decrepit power line. Because the ground was muddy and close to the road end anyway, we parked and hiked from there. The location is at or near the "well" in the middle of section 13 on the topo. After a four mile hike directly east across the desert, we went up a feeder ridge at a location a few hundred meters south of the east west canyon to the north of Nopah. By doing what comes naturally, we encountered only class 2 with perhaps a few class 3 moves on the way to the easy upper slopes. From there it was on to the summit where we had a pleasant lunch. On descending, I went too far to the south before starting down into the steep area, but we traversed to the north and picked up our ascent route without trouble. We did the long hike back to the cars arriving about 5:00 p.m. Some of us drove to Tecopa Hot Springs for a good soak in the free county hot pools.
On Sunday we drove north on Hwy 178 to the access road to Pahrump. This leaves the highway near BM 2337 and goes northeast to the canyon that is west southwest of Pahrump. The road is in better shape than 10 years ago when I was last there. We were able to drive all the cars almost to the road end at the canyon mouth. The route to Pahrump goes up the main canyon to the canyon junction at elev. 11200' and then up the right hand canyon which trends east and then south to end at a little saddle at 5160+ on the ridge that comes down southwest from the summit. From here the proper route goes directly up on the right (south) side of this ridge for about 100 ft and then through a gap in the ridge to a hidden 2nd class chute that leads easily to the summit. We did not know the secret of that route until we were on the summit. From the little saddle at 5160+, the ridge looks formidable and not at all like a good route. Instead, we traversed on the south slope below the southeast summit ridge toward 'what looked like an easy route upward. However, when we had gone a few hundred meters, we ran into very steep terrain and so we went directly up the 3rd class wall toward the main ridge. On the way up, while I was belaying one person on a move, I sent scouts ahead to locate the best way. One good scout found a route and while we were moving to climb the short pitch involved, the scout, who was directly above me but which neither of us realized, inadvertently dislodged a sizeable rock which advertently bonked me on the head and cut my scalp. The wound caused some bleeding but Delores Holladay with the help of others, bandaged me up and we continued on our merry way. Once on the summit, we could easily see the proper route. We descended by this route to the southwest ridge at 5160+ and then back down the canyon to our cars. On the way through Barstow I got my scalp stitched. At the time of this writing the still noticeable battle scar is a good conversation piece; it relieves the visual monotony of my unadorned dome.
Our climb of the two peaks was most enjoyable and for me, a heady experience. Participants were:
Bill T. Russell
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