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West Ridge

 

Page Type: Trip Report

Object Title: West Ridge

Date Climbed/Hiked: May 24, 2014

 

Page By: mtbaxter

Created/Edited: Jun 23, 2014 / Jun 23, 2014

Object ID: 901759

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Last year I drove racetrack Road and it had been recently graded.  Although the surface of the road had many sharp rocks, the road was at least free of washboarding.  Not so this year!  The washboarding now was quite annoying, and the drive in was much slower than a year before.
I slept in my Jeep at the wide section of the road SE of point 5028T, at what is the parking spot on Bob Burd's map.  Only a couple cars in the early evening went by, presumably returning from the popular Racetrack.
I started at 5:40 am, heading directly NE toward the base of the ridge.  Bob Burd's photo of this was quite handy in finding this spot on the somewhat monotonous slopes.  I reached the base of the ridge in 50 minutes.  The last and largest ravine is best crossed several hundred yards west of the ridge base to avoid its steep banks.  Here a use trail can be found which goes up the very right side of the west ridge.  This initial steep slope is probably the spot with the most exposure on the climb.
At 2 hours I was at 6940' and thought I was making good time.  The use trail was intermittently found, and it was present where it was needed the most - in the sections of loose scree and in skirting the steepest part of the ridge and its rocky sections at 7200'+.  Here the route goes to the right (south) of the buttress which at first glance appeared quite formidable.
At 3 hours I was at that little saddle at 8100'+.  Here route finding becomes a little more confusing.  I found myself higher on the slope than ideal as I headed north up the valley that goes between Tin and Point 8810T to its west.  I ended up going down several small class 3 cliffs, each only 10 feet high or so, which was quite annoying.  Finally I gave up and just headed SE until I was in the valley proper where the dry stream bed is quite easily travelled and I highly recommend its use.
Then began my stupidity.  I headed (properly) NE upslope which was obviously the summit, but began to notice that I was veering east of my summit waypoint on my GPS unit.  So I headed back NW toward my waypoint which I discovered was actually at the saddle between 8810T and Tin.  Recently I mistakenly erased ALL waypoints on my GPS unit, and it replacing the Tin waypoints while in a hurry I added the saddle waypoint.  It took a while to figure out the confusion, but I then did head up the final easy slope east to the summit.  Hence a slower ascent time than I would have achieved  had I been more diligent in creating waypoints.  I'd recommend having one in the canyon just north of pt 8660T as well.
Views were excellent as expected from one of California's Fifty Finest.  I especially enjoyed Grapevine Mtn directly to the east, which I summited the day before.
The return was much quicker at 2 hrs 38 minutes.  Atypically, the intermittent use trail seemed harder to follow on the descent.  I was also fatiguing in no small part because of the heat, which was 85 degrees when I got back to the Jeep.
I took the Death Valley Road north from Ubehebe Craters on my way out as I thought it would be faster to Big Pine.  This was a horrid mistake.  The road was one of the worst wash boarded roads I have ever used, and took HOURS.  Everything in my Jeep shook to hell.  I believe it is the cause of a recent gasket leak from my driveshaft as well as the loss of one and the loosing of another bolt attaching one of my skid plates.  I even blame it for the loosening of one of my molar fillings!  Better to go south and then via Panamint Springs.
It was good to finally summit Tin.  This was BY FAR my most problematic peak.  I failed once when I attempted it at the end of a flu bug.  I failed once when I reached only the top of that first ridge hump, because I realized the pace was too slow with a less experienced family member.  I shredded a tire once and refused to go anywhere unpaved without a spare.  I was snowed out on at least three occasions.  And most recently, I pulled out on a planned ascent with Eric Kassan when my Jeep's interior and engine compartment filled with dirt from a horrendous sand/dust storm near Salton Sea.  For a while there I was certain God Himself was preventing my ascent, and I even had some suspicions that if I did attempt another ascent certain death would result.
In any case, its done, its summited, and I have only one of California's 50 most prominent peaks left to ascend.

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