Hot Springs Peak West Ridge
I took a few days off of work and headed to Northern California from my home in Medford, Oregon. I wanted to hike some Prominent Peaks
. I got close to my first objective, Fredonyer Peak, on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 before it got dark. I car camped on the access road and fought off the mosquitoes. There was a beautiful view of Eagle Lake from my campsite on the access road.
I got up early on Thursday, June 22nd and I tagged Fredonyer Peak, Shaffer Mountain, and Observation Peak before heading to Hot Springs Peak. I had looked at the topo’s for Hot Springs Mountain and thought I could access the mountain from the north or east. What I found, as I drove completely around the Skedaddle Mountains, was that private property seemed to block access from the north and east. I drove about 40 miles on a dirt road around the north and east sides before getting back to a paved road. I knew the Herlong Army Depot blocked access from the south and there seemed to be cliffs on that side anyway.
I went into Susanville, had a hot meal, filled up my gas tank, and headed back to explore the west side of the Skedaddle Mountains for a good access point. I got lucky and thought I found a good gravel road. Soon I was bobbing up and down on moguls in an OHV area, but I corrected that, and got through the area. Thankfully no one was using the area. I continued up the canyon and the road deteriorated somewhat, but it was still good. I could see I was getting closer to my objective, so I kept going. Soon the road forked with one fork staying in the canyon and the other going up the side on the left. I took the left fork and headed up. Here the road became rockier and I had to slow down a lot. A 2WD car could do this, but it was slow and steep. If it was wet or snow on the road it would be a different story.
Soon I hit a saddle at about 5,200 ft and I knew I had arrived ! It was still early in the afternoon, so I explored the road down the otherside of the saddle. It turned rough in a hurry and led away from the mountain, so I turned around and went back up to the saddle. This was going to be my home for the night.
It was pretty hot at nearly 100 degrees, so I car camped with all the windows open. It was a hot night, some coyotes woke me up in the middle of the night, but I got some sleep.
I was up at first light and heading up the mountain soon afterward. I had to descend through a little draw before climbing up a slope to a ridgeline ahead. Once on the ridgeline, I followed it up towards the western summit of Hot Springs Peak that I could see ahead. The brush was short and easily avoided and the footing was good. It was still cross country hiking and this always takes longer than following a trail.
I made my way up to the first summit and peered over the edge to the east. It looked like a long way down to the saddle that separates the west summit from the middle summit. It was steep going down and I was surprised it was only about a 220 ft loss of elevation.
Heading back up to the middle summit required a little route finding. On the right were steep cliffs, so I headed to the left towards a black talus slope. I had to bushwhack a ways through some sage brush, but once I got to the talus it was easier to make progress. I followed the talus to stay out of the brush and climbed almost to the top of the little plateau on top of the middle summit. On the middle summit plateau there was some brush and lots of wildflowers. I broke trail through this obstacle to the far side of the plateau where I could see the east summit and the true highpoint of Hot Springs Peak.
Again I would have to make a steep descent to a saddle and then make my way up to the east summit. The ridge going up the east summit was very rocky with some rocky knobs that had to be bypassed or climbed over. I kept at it and soon reached the top of the ridge and I was on the summit. Happy days!
I found a register to sign on the summit. This surprised me because I thought this peak was not on the “Want To Climb” list of many climbers. The signatures I found there were the familiar Prominence Peak Baggers including Gordon MacLeod, Barbara Lilley, John Vitz, Gail Hanna, and Richard Carey among others.
I rested up and thought about climbing back up the middle and west summits before I had to descend back to my truck. The views were great in all directions. Honey Lake was right below me. I could see Fredonyer Peak, Shaffer Mountain and Observation Peak that I had tagged the previous day.
It was already hot, so I put my pack on and headed back to the trailhead.
I didn’t like the heat and it slowed me down. Climbing the middle and west summits took its toll. By the time I got half way back down the final ridge I ran out of my 4 liters of water. I could see my truck on the saddle, so I continued on to my goal. The thermometer in my truck said it was only 87 degrees. It just felt hot to me.
This hike took me 6.5 hours and was only 7.5 miles with about 3,375 ft of elevation gain.
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