Kingston Peak, Avawatz Mountains
By: Igor Mamedalin
Approximately twenty-nine rabid desert peak climbers congregated at the intersection of Excelsior Mine Road and Kingston Road east of Baker early Saturday morning as an exceptionally beautiful day began to break. The air was nippy and impressive cloud formations decorated the horizon. The group proceeded north on the paved Excelsior Mine Road to a large mine parking lot / gravel pit on the left side of the road just short of the 5,100' pass. Here we performed the sign in ceremonies and left four people behind as we headed toward Kingston Peak.
We followed Dale Van Dalsen's excellent directions from his 12/85 climb. After following the major canyon south, we crested at a ridge which we followed southwest to the peak. We peaked at noon after a pleasant scramble among the pinyons and rocks along the ridge. The register was signed, lunch was eaten and surrounding peaks identified. Ron and Adrienne departed early from the peak in order to meet another DPS group climbing Nelson on Sunday. The rest of the group retraced their steps back to the cars reaching them just as darkness descended. The pleasant stroll back was spoiled for one participant by an errant protruding rock abruptly bringing their progress to halt through painful cerebral contact.
From the gravel pit we proceeded to Tecopa where the public sexually segregated hot springs were enjoyed by most. After the hot springs, the group camped off a dirt road just north of the intersection of 127 and the Tecopa Road. Some people chose to drive a short distance to Shoshone for dinner while others partook of plentiful munchies and drink around the campfire. Again, morning came too early as the group made ready for their assault on Avawatz.
Following Dale's precise directions, we caravaned to a faint dirt road heading west at the 19.1 mile marker on highway 127. Here we impressed each other as twenty-three participants consolidated into four 4-wheel drive vehicles. Quickly the jeep road turned into something out of a 4WD fanatic's best nightmare. Traversing waterfalls, straddling deep ruts, and inching up slippery steep inclines we pressed past Dale's 7.2 mile landslide for another two miles to where the road began to drop back into a canyon. Bursting from the vehicles, the ,passengers dropped to their knees and kissed the ground as CPR practitioners stood ready to assist those faint of heart.
Leaving the road at 9:30 and after an unnecessary detour through a canyon, the group of twenty (lost a few) made to the top to have lunch by 12:30. The key is to gain the primary ridge system as soon as possible despite the poor appearance of the whitish cliffs. We returned to the cars by 2:30 to begin the precarious journey back. John McCully brought his week old 4WD truck on this adventure and came close to losing it to the desert as it began to slip off the steep road (with abundant help and a tow rope, he was pulled to safety). Nonetheless, by 5:00 p.m. all made it back to junction with 127 as a beautiful red sunset painted the desert skies. Can we ask for anything more? Many thanks to Randy Bernard for the assist, Steve Zoschke for the navigation, Dale Van Dalsen's directions, Jay Holshuh for the 4WD expertise, and everyone else for the fine company.
In the early part of this century, a French mining engineer and prospector named John Lemoigne lived and worked in Death Valley, California. In 1919 he was found dead in the desert, apparently of natural causes, and his string of loyal and patient burros lay dead beside him. A photograph was taken of the scene and is recorded. This poem is the story of one of those burros, John Lemoigne's grave can still be found today near the same clump of mesquite where he died.
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