McCullough from the west
I have spent a lot of time in Las Vegas over the past few years since my Mom and sister live there and had been to the summits of the prominence peaks that abound in the southern Nevada area, but two of the peaks I was interested in were Spirit Mountain near Searchlight and McCullough Mountain to the south of Las Vegas. Why? Because I am working on the list of Nevada P2k's that keep me coming back to Nevada for more. After Spirit, I had 120 of them completed out of the 178 on the list and had topped the 70% level but still leaving me lots to do (58).
My friend Dennis Poulin had approached McCullough from the west side and via Railroad Springs but the road that leads in is pretty touchy. I had climbed Spirit Mountain with Eric Kassan and Tracy Foutz a few days before and really enjoyed their company and I had talked a bit to both Tracy and Eric about doing McCullough with me although it would mean a repeat for them and I didn't blame them for not being overly interested in repeating it.
I fully expected that I would be tackling this mountain on my own and figured that since Dennis had gotten his truck up that west side road, I should be able to do the same in my Tacoma. Fortunately, my Tacoma wasn't put to the test by a nice turn of events that occurred on the next day. Re-enter Tracy Foutz.
I got a message from Tracy Sunday evening that he had decided that he was willing to do McCullough again and that he would do it from the west. Normally I would feel like I was imposing to ask someone to repeat a peak for me but in this case, I felt a big load come off of my shoulders for some reason as I had intended to go do it alone as I mentioned above if need be. When Tracy and I finally worked out the plans, it was decided to take his Jeep which turned out to be a huge plus as when we drove that road in from the west, I would've had to park my Tacoma far short of where he was able to drive. Another aspect was that he was familiar with that road and knew what he was doing as he had been in on the west road on his previous visit.
We met near where I was staying and went from there to Jean where he took the road that went east from the Casino there and then hooked in to a road, paved at first that turned into a decent dirt road once past a concrete facility. The road took us onto the east side of a small range and eventually hooked into the road that Dennis described in his peakbagger trip report. That road was rough and sandy but up to then, nothing my truck wouldn't have been able to handle. Then we turned east just past a BLM sign and headed toward the mountain. The road got worse and worse and I began to realize that I was glad I wasn't driving my Tacoma. Big rocks bracketed both sides of the track and there were a few spots that I doubt I would've tried to get my truck through and would have parked and walked from there, adding another two or three more miles to my effort. Amazingly and skillfully, Tracy managed every bit of that road all the way up to the shack at Railroad Springs. I was impressed no end by that and happy that I found myself at Railroad Springs with a guy who knew the route up the mountain.
Instead of going up the wash as most others seem to have done, we went right up the ridge across from Railroad Springs and that route, though steep and cactus protected, went great and made a great way to get to the top. Once the steep section was behind us, it was a good and decent hike right to the summit with no obstacles to deal with. I'm not sure Tracy knew how happy and grateful I was when I stood on the rock that served as the high point for the McCullough range. We signed into the register we found in an ammo box and relaxed for a few minutes on the chilly and windy summit. Views were expansive in all directions and it was just awesome to top out on this mountain and know that only Jumbo remains for a completion of the southern part of Nevada. Of course I'm not counting Bare, Grapevine and Gold in that geographical reference but they are also definitely on my future to do list.
The route back down went fine until I hit a rock that skidded on me and landed my right hand in the middle of a cactus. It took about a half hour to pull all the barbs out of my hand but even that mishap didn't dampen my spirits since I had McCullough now crossed off on my list of peaks that I really really wanted. Thanks once again to Tracy. The drive out was uneventful (thank goodness) and it wasn't long before we were eating lunch at the Steak and Shake diner enjoying hamburgers and root beer floats.
Total distance about 4 miles RT with over 2000 of elevation gain. Again, the crux is the drive in and watching out for sneaky cactus that wants to make you pay for walking on its domain.
Some good linksThis report has some nice maps and information about the road/route in from the west: LINK
Dennis Poulin's peakbagger trip report: LINK
Daryn Dodge's Trip report: LINK