Taking Chances in the Last Chance Range

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Trip Report
California, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Jan 10, 2009
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Taking Chances in the Last Chance Range
Created On: Jan 12, 2009
Last Edited On: Mar 21, 2009
Eureka Dunes and peak 6450
The colorful Last Chance Range forms the stunning backdrop for many pictures of the Eureka Sand Dunes, and I have always wondered what a hike up one of the rugged ridges would be like.
Peak 6450 in the morning
Starting east of the dunes, the shadows made it difficult to pick the best route up the peak. I could see that the ridges each had three or four major cliffbands, but I had no idea about the quality of the rock or the possible detours.
Sandy Peak
Nearby, Sandy Peak sees many ascents from desert peakbaggers.
Looking up the ridge
I wonder what I will find as I approach the steeper sections.
Climbing Peak 6450
The cliffs are far more solid than I had imagined, and the climbing was quite pleasant. The snow covered Inyo Mountains emerge over the Saline Range in the background.
Barrel Cactus clings to the rock
Barrel Cactus clings to a crack in a small cliff face.
Peak with dryfall
Spectacular ridges with dryfalls keep my camera busy on the way up.
Top Cliff Bands
The cliffbands near the top break just enough to allow passage, and the solid grippy rock makes for fun scrambling.

Snowslopes lead to the top

There was still a little snow near the top from the late December storms.

Dunes from peak 6450

Death Valley from Peak 6450

It was cool to see Eureka Dunes to the west and Ubehebe Crater to the south from the ridge.
Peak 6993
There was no register on Peak 6450. My intended route was a traverse south along the Last Chance Range to Peak 6993 then south to easier slopes down to Dedecera Canyon. Maybe I'll see some familiar names in the register at Peak 6993.
Register Peak 6993
The register on Peak 6993 was placed in 1979, and had ten names in thirty years. None of the names that I expected to see were there, just a geologist, a couple peakbaggers, a few wilderness researchers, and some potheads from Saline Valley. All were traversing the Last Chance Range, and none had hiked peak 6450. Perhaps I was the first on that one. Naw.

Note: The rocks on the mountain are now about 550,000,028 years old.
South along Last Chance
Parts of the ridge south of 6993 were smooth enough for running, which I did as it was now time to race the sun to the bottom. Many side canyons tempted me for descent, but I knew they all cliffed out. I stayed with my original plan to head south to easier ground.
Starting Down
As I started down my chosen ridge, a large cliffband stopped me near the top. Not seeing any sure way through the mess of cliffs below, I started down a series of gulleys to a wash with several dryfalls.
Last Chance
I climbed down or around a few dryfalls until I was stopped by a huge dropoff. I backtracked up the canyon and over a ridge to try my luck in another drainage.
Cliffing Out
I found a vantage point where I was able to work out the options for the maze of cliffs below. I traced the possible routes with my finger until I hit a cliff, then I would trace another route. All the routes ended with a large cliffband at the bottom of the slope. I decided to head down the best route that I could see through the upper cliffs, and hopefully I could find a break in the bottom cliff.
Looking back up
I got lucky. I took a look back up the slope from Dedeckera Canyon, and spotted all the spots I had cliffed out. The sun was dropping fast, so I jogged the four miles to the dunes.
Peak 6450 in the Evening
Peak 6450 looks pretty sweet in the evening light, and it looks like there are a few more ridges just itching to be scratched.



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cp0915 - Jan 12, 2009 9:52 am - Voted 10/10

Wonderful TR

I love the desert ranges!

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Taking Chances in the Last Chance Range

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