All it takes is one look at Greycap to understand how it got its (unofficial) name. Situated north of New Peak
and Kraft Mountain
and separated from them by Gateway Canyon, Greycap is the highest peak of the Calico Basin area unless one includes Turtlehead Peak
as part of Calico Basin; boundaries here are vague. The peak is located within the La Madre Mountain Wilderness Area.
From the trailhead in Calico Basin, Greycap is not visible, but it is visible from many points along SR 159. Although the name may make the peak sound dull, it is anything but when direct sunlight strikes it. The south face, and probably other aspects as well, has bands of strikingly intense sandstone, most notable red, that can make the peak look quite spectacular.
Climbing Greycap is as simple as going up almost anywhere on the south face, but that does not mean one should expect a tedious, annoying talus slog. It would take careful route-finding to find a solid Class 2 route up the peak, and it would be very easy to get into Class 5 terrain, so expect an outing with anywhere from a little to a lot of Class 3 and/or Class 4 climbing.
Getting There and Route Information
From Charleston Boulevard (Route 159) west of I-215 and Summerlin, turn onto the signed road to Calico Basin; this road is about one mile east of the entrance to the Scenic Drive in RRCNCA. Keep right when you reach the spur to Red Springs Picnic Area and soon bear left onto Sandstone Drive. Follow that road to its end; there is a large and obvious parking area on the left. The distance from 159 to the parking area is about two miles.
As stated earlier, expect anything from Class 2 to Class 5, depending on your exact line. This is assuming that you use what appears to be the shortest approach and then climb the south face; topo maps suggest
a possible Class 2 route up the eastern ridge, but although I thought of trying that way on my descent, I didn't do it, so what I have said about it is pure speculation
, so be warned.
One-way distance will be in the vicinity of two miles (my track was 2.2 miles but could have been shorter), with about 1900' of elevation gain. Be aware that part of the route includes an elevation loss into Gateway Canyon that must be regained (and on the return trip as well).
From the parking area, pick up a trail (there are a few in the area) heading generally north until you intersect a major trail running east-west along the bases of New Peak and Kraft Mountain. Follow this trail west and then branch north to reach the 4300' saddle between New and Kraft; the saddle is about 0.8 mi from the trailhead and involves an elevation gain of approximately 500'.
Then follow the trail down towards Gateway Canyon and do one of two things: stay with the trail as it angles northwest to the canyon floor or leave the trail and reach the canyon floor more directly. The latter is shorter but more challenging, requiring some scrambling and route-finding, but it also promises some nice encounters with sculpted, beautifully patterned small slots and pouroffs that for me were perhaps the scenic highlights of the outing (see below).
Once at the canyon floor, head up the south face of Greycap by whatever way catches your fancy. My ascent route led me to a false summit about a third of a mile east of the highpoint, which is near the western end of the peak. Some hiking and easy scrambling got me over to and atop the true summit.
For the descent, consider something more direct from the summit to Gateway Canyon if that's not how you went in the first place. I ended up finding and following some tributary drainages of upper Gateway Canyon featuring short slots and dryfalls before reaching the canyon floor again.
Red Tape, Camping, Links
There are no fees for Calico Basin, but please respect property boundaries and posted wilderness regulations.
This area is unpleasantly and dangerously hot on most summer days. Climb here very early in the morning or at night if at all.
There are no campgrounds in Calico Basin. The area is best-suited for day hiking and climbing, anyway.
BLM site for RRCNCA