A Cold November Peakbagging in Nevada and Utah

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John Platt and I headed south for the next version of our annual late Fall trip. This time we made a swing through Nevada and Utah, climbing peaks  from November 18-21, 2017. We ended up climbing a total of seven peaks with 3 in Nevada and 4 in northeastern Utah. Unlike our previous excursions we did not have a great weather forecast or much time. (Read John’s Trip Report)

The snow encrusted Ruby Mountains viewed from the highway as we drove south of Wells.

The weather was colder than usual and since we only had four days available we decided to spend nights in motels. We were surprised to find a lot more snow than usual on the peaks between Jackpot and Wells. So, we continued driving south. South of Wells and south of massive Spruce Mountain we identified Peak 6391. It looked to be good candidate for rest stop. It turned out to be a short climb of 0.75 miles and just under 400 feet of elevation gain. We wanted to get to Ely at a reasonable time to we quickly dropped back to the pickup and hit the road.

Peak 6391 viewed from the highway. We climbed the left hand ridge.

Our uneventful route up Peak 6391.

However, we were not satiated by quick hike up Peak 6391 and decided to stop again and climb in the Currie Hills, near Goshute Lake. We had driven by this area on several of our earlier Nevada trips. The Currie Hills high point is found on Peak 7290. The high point is hidden from the highway by a ridge that included Peak 6866. Since this ridge rose up between the highway and the high point and we had to find a way drive around it. So from the highway we had to make a long drive on two track paths to reach our starting point. I navigated and John drove worrying about the poor condition of the road the entire way. We eventually found a parking spot between the two peaks.

This was the first time Ruby, John’s dog, had visited Nevada and she seemed excited to get out and explore. In fact she was so excited she took off like a rocket. The object of her desire was not the high point but instead a band of wild horses. With John vigorously imploring Ruby to return we started toward the peak. Thankfully, despite her ability to quickly cover rough terrain, she gave up the chase and returned.

The approach to the climb was across broken terrain interspersed with junipers. Once at the base of the high point the climb steepened. Near the top we had to climb through a short cliff band to reach the summit.

Rather than returning to the truck we hike straight toward Peak 6866. The summit was reached via easy, sagebrush covered slopes. The route for both peaks covered 3.5 miles with 1,184 feet of elevation gain.

The west side of the Currie Hills HP.

The summit of the Currie Hills HP.

Peak 6866 viewed from the Currie Hills HP.

Our GPS track for our Currie Hills hike.

We spent the night at the Ely Motel 6 and ate a Chinese restaurant in an old Pizza Hut building. Unlike our previous trips we had not made specific plans for each day. After dinner we both got online and explored the possibilities. It turned out that picking a destination was easy. We simply were too close to Utah’s Notch Peak to pass it up. The next morning we headed to Utah.

Notch Peak’s western façade.j

Notch Peak is one of the continent’s most impressive peaks. At 9,654 feet it is the highest peaks in western Utah’s House Range. Its northwest face is a conglomeration of massive cliffs that at one point rise vertically for over 2,200 feet. Its vertical drop is reportedly only topped by Yosemite’s El Capitan. I drove by the peak on other trips south in my motorhome and had added reaching its summit to my bucket list.

The morning temperature was cold. At one point on our drive the temperature dropped to 1 degree. By the time we reached the trailhead in the sun on the peak’s eastern slopes the air had warmed to 40 degrees.

The well traveled trail climbed up through an interesting and scenic canyon covered with snow in places. The canyon was like a giant sunless freezer. The canyon eventually opens up and the route started to climb the juniper-covered upper slopes and into the sunlight.

As the trail neared the top it climbed up close to the peak’s cliffs but that initial exposure was nothing like what we experienced upon reaching the summit. To say the drop confronting us at the summit was breathtaking. Actually, saying it was breathtaking is an  understatement. The views from the summit go on forever.

Looking toward the peak from the trailhead.

John hiking through the deep freeze.

Climbing out of the canyon.

Nearing the summit.

Notch Peak’s northern neighbor.

John and Ruby resting on the edge.

Our GPS track for Notch Peak.

Back at the truck we decided to head to Delta, Utah and find a hotel room. It was Sunday and the only place to get a meal was a McDonald’s.

The terrain North of Delta is a mix of desert flats and small but interesting mountain ranges. The next morning we headed across the salt flats toward a small granite encrusted range to climb appropriately named Desert Mountain.

Reaching the base of the peak we gazed upon a confusing slope of granite ribs and towers. We discussed a few possible lines to the summit. Not sure of the best route we just deciding to head up and take a closer look. We quickly reached the summit blocks and found a route around them to their northwest side where a short gully led to the top.

The south face of Desert Mountain.

John and Ruby on the summit.

Our GPS track for Desert Mountain. We ascended the left hand line.

After descending via a different line to the truck we decided we had time for one more climb. Peak 6050, which sits southwest of Desert Mountain, was a perfect destination. The peak presented no difficulties. We came, we climbed, we descended.

Approaching the summit of Peak 6050.

Our GPS track for Peak 6050.

Back at the truck we changed out of our boots as we had decided it was time to make tracks. Our plan was to drive to Wells get a room at the Motel 6. As we were preparing to go John’s dog Ruby sat on the ground 25 feet from the truck staring at us. John called her. She didn’t move. She seemed to be saying she wanted to climb another peak. John had to go collector and put her into the truck.

The next morning we hoped to get one more peak between Wells and Jackpot. We were concerned about access because the area between Wells and Jackpot was snowy, wet and muddy three days earlier. Fortunately, John’s research turned up Cold Springs Mountain, 8,104 feet.

Dan Robbins’ trip report on IdahoSummits.com the approach road was suitable for sedans. since we had 4×4 pickup we figured we could make it. We headed for the peak. The road from the highway covered a lot of distance and was muddy in spots but presented no problems. Arriving at the trailhead I was feeling a bit beat down after three nights in less than ideal motel beds. However, John, like always, was ready to enthusiastically roll. His enthusiasm was a great motivator.

Cold Springs Mountain Viewed from the east.

The route through the sagebrush climbed steadily and we reached the summit after a mile and a half with 1,100 of elevation gain. The views from the top were massive and we spent some time all of the peaks we had previously climbed in that area.

Another successful Fall trip completed.

Our GPS track for Cold Springs Mountain.

Next: Nevada: A Very Early Spring Trip

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