Elevation: 8,531 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Peak 8531 is a magnificent, steep hill located above the mouth of Reservoir Creek. The easiest ascent route is from the north via the gentle north ridge. The steep west ridge is a scrambler’s dream. I highly recommend it. Leave the north ridge to the horses. USGS Reservoir Creek
West Ridge, Class 2
From the bridge crossing at the mouth of Hawley Creek Canyon, drive up Hawley Creek Road/FSR-275 for 2.6 miles to a fork in the road. This marks the junction of FSR-177 and FSR-279. Hawley Creek Road ends here. Park in a pullout located just past the junction on FSR-279/Reservoir Creek Road. The elevation here is 6,925 feet.
From the parking pullout, hike north on FSR-279 as it drops 35 vertical feet to cross Big Bear Creek (pipe under the road). Continue to follow the road briefly until it reaches the toe of the west ridge. The southwest face of Peak 8531 is an intimidating concoction of steep rock strata/ledges. The west ridge follows the top of the steep rock face, with forest nearby to the left/north. Scramble up the crest of the west ridge.
Early on, the ridge has some rocky outcrops to work around on the left/north side. There are no game trails here–the terrain is just too steep. The ridge is unrelenting and steep but not too loose. It’s just a grind. Stay in the open grass/sage to the right/south of the ridge crest. Higher up, the ridge becomes entirely forested (pines) with some deadfall to work around. High up, the ridge bends left/northeast—something you might not even notice. The summit of Peak 8531 is semi-open and has a modest cairn on top.
Northeast Ridge, Class 2
Same as for the west ridge
This descent route is part of a ridge traverse to Peak 8294, the next objective of the day. The northeast ridge wiggles a bit on its way to the saddle that connects Peak 8531 and Peak 8294, but the direction is predominantly northeast. The terrain on this ridge is mostly open sagebrush, though there are a few short sections of forest to contend with. In addition, there are two ridge points to climb over.
From the summit of Peak 8531, bushwhack east then northeast through a section of forest to descend to a minor saddle. From the saddle, climb northeast to a gentle ridge hump (Point 8400+). Descend north then northeast to another saddle (Saddle 8135). Climb up over an open sagebrush hill then descend northeast down a slope with a weak 2-track road on it to reach the saddle at the base of the west face of Peak 8294.