A THREE STATE PEAKS ADVENTURE: North Schell Peak (11,883'), Ibapah Peak (12,083'), Thompson Peak (10,776'), Greys Peak (10,674'), Liberty Peak (11,036') July 23-31, 1982
up with only one peak climber from Northern California, I drove
us out on Interstate 80 to witness a gorgeous sunset.
Motoring east on U.S. 50, the loneliest highway, we camped at
Sand Mountain, a dune system. The
next day, we motored east on U.S. 50, seeing some sights.
We passed through Ely, NV, the adventure
town, for so many of my climbs. We got a campsite along Timber
Creek for our climb of North Schell Peak the next day.
Waking up early, we started hiking up a use trail to the northwest of the peak. Seeing a big herd of deer, we steadily climbed, and soon, were upon the high ridge. Clouds enveloped us as for most of this trip. We took pictures of ourselves, and I reached the top first with cloudy vistas. The register went back a short way, and we enjoyed our summit stay.
There was some snow for me to do a standing glissade, and shortly, we were back to the cars. A glorious first climb! On the way back to Ely, on an enviro note, I took this shot of the now removed McGill factory smokestack, a local cause of pollution.
Our next peak was Ibapah Peak, formerly
known as Haystack Peak. Motoring east on U.S. 50, we got this
view of Wheeler Peak in the
now Great Basin National Park. A long dirt road drive starts at
the Utah border. No one I ever knew would do such a drive, some
55 miles each way. I was game with my subcompact wagon, having
driven many rough roads. It was a good gravel road, and I could
motor along at up to 50 mph.
We passed through Higley's Hideaway, an oasis in the desert, here. I determined what side road led to the peak trail, and no signs to help were up. I was going by my book, Hiking the Great Basin, by John Hart. Usually excellent directions were given. Ibapah is the easternmost peak on the then NAS list, and it was my partner's idea to do this. Looking for a peaks adventure on my summer vacation, I had to do all the figuring and planning. An easy breeze to ride along and follow, for him.
We got to the furthest point that my car could handle, passing huge rock formations. Making camp, we ate dinner and slept well for the big hike the next day.
My partner is slow, so we had to start early. He wasn't so enthusiastic about climbing it, now. I led the way, spotting one landmark, Red Mountain, along the way. The guidebook gives good directions, and we followed the trail to a high sloping area. Here the trail diminished to nothing, but I navigated up further to find it again.
Clouds came in, and I could only snap a few views as I came to them. I went ahead to bag the peak, now being on the summit trail, and shortly reached the top. Mists floated about. I snapped my own picture and the views, and looked at the register.
My partner amazed me by coming up behind me, and we celebrated our ascent. Great to have great information on this so remote mountain!
We stuck together on our way down, and then came back to my car. I motored out back to the main dirt road, and we were regaled with sights of thunderheads and a rainbow, headed back south to U.S. 50.
Back to Ely, we motored north on U.S. 93, toward Hole-in-the Mountain Peak. It looked pretty gloomy as we got there, and I wanted better weather. It seemed by the radio that it might be better northward, in Idaho. So, I decided to head to the Sawtooth, interested in seeing new things.
We drove to the bridge over the Snake River and partook of the photo op, here. We made a short stop to see the Mammoth Ice Cave, paying the fee and exploring the cold, lava tube. Passing through Ketchum and Sun Valley, ID, we got to see how Idahoans live. Galena Summit made for a few photos, although the weather wasn't as good as I wanted. Scouting out our trails and mountains, I snapped a classic photo of some viewpoints for Mt. Heyburn and Redfish Lake.
Finding a campsite by a river, we got up early, again, and I would guide us to a trailhead by Redfish Lake. Starting at a good hour, again, I took the trail to Thompson Lake, and then cross country to Thompson Peak, the highest peak in the Idaho Sawtooth.
Coming to some snow, I went ahead
as my partner lost his enthusiasm since this wasn't any peak on
his list. I soon clambered up the far (west) side of the peak,
and it began to drizzle. This made the rocks so slippery! I did
some short, easy, class 3 to get to the top, alone.
The summit views were magnificent! I snapped photos of the register as well, glad of my safe and successful ascent. Too bad for my partner, him resting at the lake below. I then had to leave, heading down to rejoin my pal. He had a good time resting, and snapped my picture with the peak in the background.
The trail back went nicely, and I snapped a photo of the wildflowers. Why more people don't do this! We motored south, now to get back into better weather. I saw a nice sunset at Shoshone, ID, with railroad tracks and the setting sun. It was time for a good rest, so I got a motel room in Twin Falls, ID.
Motoring back to Northern Nevada, I chose to do Greys Peak from Angel Lake, a solo climb, with my partner staying at the car. I had directions from my guidebook, again, and I had nice sights from along the way and from the top. Placing a register, this may be a now retrieved one, by a magazine article. Descending, I shot pictures of the profuse wildflowers. I camp cooked, with steak and chopped broccoli from a store back in Wells, NV. Studying maps, I figured what to do the next day.
I drove to the Ruby Mountains, to Roads End up Lamoille Canyon. We hiked up the main trail, and I sought to bag another obscure peak from Liberty Pass. We climbed the peak next to the pass. Overjoyed at finding a summit register, I marveled at the views of the Ruby Mountains. This was a great, safe, and successful trip, despite the bad weather.
With our week over, we had to go home. In the dusk along Interstate 80, I smashed into a truck tire laying in the middle of the highway. My gear shift now didn't work well. Somehow, I got us along to camp at Rye Patch Reservoir, and figured how to drive to Reno, NV. There, I found a garage, and they fixed the problem. A small charge, too!
Dropping my tired friend at his home, I went back home to get my film developed, and then back to a menial but steady job, then. One of my bigger peak trips back then, I was not to get back to the Idaho Sawtooth till many years later. This hiker wasn't much for too many peaks. His gist was more the pleasures of Nevada civilization, as he was to attest then and later.
I shot nine rolls of Kodachrome, and no one in the local peak section seemed interested in our adventure or in any notes on the peaks. Then, that's the way they are--only slight interest in the truest exploration, their social agenda taking full priority. I would have shot thousands of digital photos if I had that technology, back then, but film had to do. Wishing for another partner to go back to get more photos from the summits, especially Ibapah, none was to materialize. I wrote a short piece for the DPS newsletter, but none of them, even, I heard was to do that fine peak.
My wagon, then, got up to 44 mpg highway, and made my best car for the rough roads, with almost 7" clearance. I could sleep in the back, putting my gear in the front seat. It would serve me some 213,000 miles, and lasted me 12 years. No car that I have had since then did so well for peak climbing.
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