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West Face

 
West Face

Page Type: Route

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 36.21110°N / 116.355°W

Object Title: West Face

Route Type: Scrambling

Time Required: Half a day

Rock Difficulty: Class 3

Route Quality: 
 - 2 Votes
 

 

Page By: cp0915

Created/Edited: Mar 2, 2005 / May 12, 2014

Object ID: 164160

Hits: 2077 

Page Score: 72.91%  - 3 Votes 

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Overview

This is the standard route up Eagle Mountain. It's about 2.5 miles, with 1800' of elevation gain, to the summit. The route is a good mix of Class 2 and 3, but the near the summit, it is possible to get into some Class 4 terrain.

Getting There

Eagle Mountain is easily reached by any passenger vehicle.

From Shoshone, California:
 
Head north on Highway 127 about 16 miles, looking for a faint dirt road heading off to the north just as the highway starts to angle to the northwest. Turn onto the dirt road and follow it 1/4 mile or so to a small dirt parking area. Eagle Mountain is immediately east. If you miss it, you are irreparably blind - there are no other mountains nearby. 

From Death Valley NP: 

2 options exist --
 
1) From Furnace Creek, take Highway 190 to Death Valley Junction and then turn onto Highway 127 and follow it south to the west side of Eagle Mountain (can't be missed-- remember, it's the only mountain in the middle of the huge Amargosa Valley). Look for the aforementioned dirt road turnoff. 
2) From Badwater, head south for many miles and ultimately exit the park, crossing Salsberry and Jubilee passes, on Highway 178. When you reach the junction with Highway 127 (just north of Shoshone), turn left and head north to the aforementioned dirt road turnoff. 

From Las Vegas:

Take SR 160 to Pahrump (takes about an hour). Just north of town, look for a sign telling you to turn left for Death Valley. This is Stateline Road, and by following it, you will reach a junction with CA 127. Turn left (south) here and drive to the turnoff.

Route Description

From the dirt parking area, head east cross-country toward the base of Eagle Mountain. Soon after leaving the parking area, you will need to cross the Amargosa River. Sometimes it's wet,  and sometimes it's dry. Do what you have to do.

Once across the river, continue cross-country and up the alluvial fan to the base of a prominent gully on the west side of the mountain. Although there are several gullies on the west side, this one is on the left and is the only one that can be surmounted via Class 2-3 scrambling. Others will work as well, though they involve class 4 & 5 travel over dry waterfalls and cliffy sections.

As you approach the gully, look for a use trail and the occasional cairn. Head up the gully for 1000 feet or so until you come to the base of some cliffs blocking further upward progress. From here, you can start to head north or south. The summit is to the south.

Follow a use trail and cairns south as they lead you up toward the crest of the mountain. The use trail winds around here and there, and ultimately leads you southward and a few hundred feet up to the base of the summit block.

Now, I'm told that there is an easy Class 2-3 variation that you can use to most easily reach the highest summit crag. I didn't use that variation and therefore don't know the route. Instead, I followed the crest of the summit ridge directly to the top; it was excellent, and I recommend it (assuming you are okay with the terrain and some exposure). It's similar to Moapa Peak's summit ridge, though not quite as impressive.

The use trail will lead you to a notch in the summit ridge along the base of the summit block. At any point where you feel comfortable, scramble up to the ridge crest. The terrain around the notch is generally in the Class 3 range. Once on the narrow crest, head south toward the summit.

Assuming you've gained the summit ridge early (around the notch), you will follow it for about 200 feet over some interesting and occasionally ass-puckering terrain. At times, the ridge is only 10 inches or so wide, with fairly hefty drop-offs on either side. At others, it is merely Class 2 scrambling over exposed bouldery terrain. If all goes well, the summit is a hop, skip and a jump away (not literally). The summit hosts a register and fantastic views.

To descend, retrace your steps (or try to find this easy class 2-3 variation that's somewhere around there).

Essential Gear

The normal desert stuff - boots, sunscreen, hat, plenty of water, windbreaker.

Images

Looking east toward Eagle...Go around the false summit of...