Desert Peak has a nice route description from the east side and yet, one of the people who climbed the peak from the east, mentioned that the west side might be an easier way to climb it. In looking at topographical maps of the peak, I felt that there might be a reasonable western approach and selected the southwest ridge from an old mine area as a possibility. Three guys from Arizona tried the route and relayed the information to me that it was a "reasonable" and direct way to go. So here it is, the Southwest Ridge, hiked by MikerHiker and myself on August 18th, 2009. Normally an August day would NOT be a good time to be in this area but we took advantage of a cool spell (in the low 80's) to be there.
Do not venture out into the Newfoundland area after or during a rainy spell.
The roads become muddy and slimy and you do not want to get stuck out there.
From the front page description:
"From Salt Lake City: (120 miles)
Head west on I-80 towards Wendover. Continue to exit 62 (Lakeside Military Area) and head north towards the Military Area. About 15 miles from the Interstate you will reach the Military Area where the paved road bends and then continues to the military base. At this bend there is a dirt road that continues straight, follow this well-graded dirt road. After another 14 miles you will reach the railroad tracks. Continue about a 1/4 mile west to where a road crosses the tracks and follows the railroad tracks. This is where the road is marked as private. Continue west along the railroad tracks for 25.5 miles to the Newfoundland Mountains road."
My odometer varied a bit from the above mileages but I would recommend following Greg's mileage. When you get to the turnoff that goes south across the tracks into the Newfoundland range (see map 3), you are about 8 or 9 miles from the area where I parked. However, those miles took me about 45 minutes. Follow the dirt road as it makes it way south and watch for a "decent" road that goes west. There was a metal stake placed at the right junction (GPS 002 on map 3) but no signage to indicate that particular road. Follow the road west and before long it will bend around the range and then start heading south. The key junction is shown on map 2 as 001.
If you do not have a high clearance vehicle, park near here as the road that heads towards GPS waypoint 002 gets pretty rough. You could walk from this point, just follow the road. At waypoint 002, you will see a road branching off to the right and it heads towards the old mines in the area. This is a rough road and I had a couple spots to negotiate that I know I couldn't have made past without 4WD.
We parked near the old mine area (watch for nails) at waypoint 003.
From the mine area where we parked at 5300 feet, we walked the jeep track up to a saddle where the jeep road continued on up to the right. At the saddle (5500'), go east and work your way up the steep terrain, following some animal trails that pretty much lead to the ridgeline. Avoid going to the north as cliffs will stop you so continue working your way up until you come to the north south ridgeline. A few spots will require the use of hands but for the most part, it is no worse than class 2 and believe me when I say you will figure out the logical way to go as you proceed upward. Once you reach the ridgeline at 6000 feet, you will see the remainder of the route plainly before you. Another 1000 feet will put you on the summit itself.
Again, there is nothing technical about the southwest ridge, you will need to avoid a few small cliffy areas but we were able to figure out a route that took us directly to the summit. It may be steep but the footing is generally
good and straightforward.
Total mileage: 1.3 miles each way with 1700 feet of elevation gain.
Well equipped vehicle with maybe a 2nd spare tire and lots of water. Be prepared for what to do if your vehicle breaks down out there as it is very