Pine Creek Peak in background to left behind Mescalito
This is a seldom visited point at the top of the ridge that runs east to west roughly parallel to the ridge from Mescalito
to Yoga Peak and is located south of said ridge. There are various routes available for reaching the summit of which my preference is from the south fork of Pine creek just past the cutoff for Terrace canyon with a descent loop back to the west to return via the south fork of Pine creek.
Approaching Terrace canyon(left)
The elevation gain to the summit is about 2,300’ and time required for the climb is approximately 5 hours for a fit climber. Distance traveled to reach the summit and return using the loop route is an estimated 6 -7 miles. There is a lot of fine class 3 and class 4 climbing involved if you stay on the fairly well cairned route. The views surrounding this summit are excellent with the view east looking down Pine creek canyon framed by the city of Las Vegas in the background enjoyable. To the north is Bridge Mountain and to the south is Rainbow Mountain with its various shades of red sandstone layers. This peak is can be reached with minimal climbing by reversing the described descent route or heading cross country from the vicinity of the Rocky Gap Pass road. The register was placed there by Brandon (Branch Whitney) who claims a first ascent on 1-21-03.
From Charleston Blvd and the 215 Beltway in the western part of Las Vegas, take Charleston Blvd. (Highway 159) west for about 5 miles until you reach the entrance to Red Rock Canyon NCA. Once inside the park, follow the 13 mile loop road for about 10 miles to the Pine Creek trailhead parking area. You should allow about 30 minutes driving time from the strip to the entrance station.
National Park entrance fees apply in Red Rock National Conservation area. Hours of operations vary by season. See Red Rock NCA Home Page
There is a campground located south of SR159 two miles east of the entrance to RRCNCA. There is no developed campground within Red Rock NCA, although backcountry camping with a permit is allowed.
When to climb
Spring and Fall are the peak seasons as it becomes extremely hot in the summer. Winter can be an excellent time as well unless snow and ice accumulate from winter storms making the scrambling too hazardous. This is most likely to occur in January and February.
Cairn marking start of climb
View of ridge at climbout point(cairn in bottom right)
Begin hiking west into Pine Creek Canyon. There is an old foundation you will encounter on your left about a mile in as you hike toward the Mescalito. To this point you have been following a trail with occasional forks. The mail trail generally follows the right hand forks, but the key is to keep heading toward Mescalito. As you approach, the pyramid shaped Mescalito Peak towers before you. Mescalito splits Pine Creek canyon into two forks. You need to stay to the left side of the Mescalito to enter the south fork of Pine Creek canyon and proceed up canyon. As you hike up the south fork canyon, you will pass a canyon on your right that is the normal route to climb the Mescalito.
Your next landmark will be a branch of the canyon that heads to the left of the main canyon you have been following and leads toward Gunsight Notch via Terrace Canyon.
Initial climbout toward NE
After passing the cutoff to Terrace Canyon, look to the right hand canyon wall to find cairns marking the point to exit Pine Creek and the start of the climb which is perhaps a couple of hundred feet after passing the Terrace Canyon cutoff.
Overhang halfway up to ridge
The route is marked with numerous cairns and traverses right and left while ascending up the canyon wall to attain the ridge top.
Class 3 - 4 walls
Upon reaching the ridge top, you will turn left and continue following the ridge toward the summit which will eventually be reached after climbing several false summits enroute. The route generally veers toward the right as your path is blocked by occasional cliffs along the ridge.
Pass cliff face on right
The climbing is mostly class 3 with some moderate class 4 pitches along the way.
Climb up by tree heading ESE(left) to regain ridgetop
Route in red near summit
The descent is most easily made heading West toward the head of the South fork of Pine Creek. Due to the greater distance traveled, the return takes approximately as long as the climb. The colors in the sandstone along this route are some of the most impressive in the park and there are numerous caves and holes where the sandstone has been eroded over the centuries. The return is mostly class 1 or 2 with a few bouldering challenges as you descend the canyon.
"Ah, this is obviously some strange usage of the word 'safe' that I wasn't previously aware of."