McCullough Mountain, Spirit Mountain
By: Dale van Dalsem
20 of us met at 7:30 at the power line road turnoff 8.3 mi E of Nipton & followed the road towards mythical Pine Springs: 5 mi N, 1.5 mi W, (We consolidated into high clearance vehicles here, then a right turn north across the grain of the land to a westward trending wash, which we followed, taking every right fork, to the end, 3.2 mi, not 2.0 as on the San Berdoo Auto Club map from last intersection, and 9.7+ from pavement. We were in the canyon just E of 5917 and .5 mi N of 'Pine Spring' on McCullough Mtn 1960 15' topo and at 5500 when parked. We followed the main canyon N.W. & topped out on the ridgeline halfway between 6557 & 6425 about 3/8 mi W of where we wanted to be. Thought we were in the next canyon to the right. Recovered & backtracked E & dropped into the canyon just N of 6425 & followed it N as it led us N & then W right up the peak. Nice views from the top & a nice hike, but hardly a mountain. Better route on the way back: back E & then S in the canyon, exiting to hit the saddle N of 6425, then contouring around over the ridge E of 6425, then over the ridge South of 6425, to end up in the original drainage & S to the canyon we came up. A big duck in the canyon plus one high on the N side shows where we should have exited on the way in. Nice nav noodle when the 71/2's come out. 51/2 hr r.t. incl 45 min lunch, 6 mi r.t., 20 people. Also, 1 hr 45 driving & assembly time going in and about an hour going out.
Laughlin's Casinos were jammed with geriatric snowbirds; we blended right in with our grubby hiking duds. Most went for the $1.49 buffet at the Riverside (salads, fish, chicken, dessert, coffee: not bad). Some of us Big Spenders dove into the $2.98 buffet (salads, prime rib, dessert, coffee: better, but not Lawry's; and Nathan P. would turn over in his grave!) We had a nice campfire & great weather in Christmas Tree Pass. The Christmas tree decorations were even more outrageous than the last time we were there, and included a tree completely decorated with bras. Conjectures were rife!
A couple of short roads head a few hundred yards NE from the main gravel road; taking the one above the C in 'Christmas Tree Pass' would have saved a few minutes (Spirit Mtn 1959 71/2 topo). When one tops out on the low ridge N of and parallel to the main road, study the mountain. Many ribs & gullys lead up to the summit ridge. One rib appears to be relatively free of big rocks; we chose that one, ascending the right side of the next rib to the right, traversing left behind a big gendarme & across a gully, then up the rockless rib, traversing left again just before the top of the summit ridge, then a short jaunt to the summit. All easy cl 2 except one short move of 3 to cross the dike some 200' short of the summit tripod. Great little peak; gorgeous rocks & views. 13 people, 5 hrs R.T. incl 40 min on top, 2000 gain, 21/2 mi R.T. Thanks to Randy Bernard on day 1 & Owen Maloy on day 2 for assisting; Ron Hudson was hung up in Arizona on biz.
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