Great escape from the heat in Death Valley.
Well, here is my story, as the brother of Mtntrail2, on our fateful climb.
We tarted out that day in Los Angeles where you have to go 60 miles just to get away from the houses. And believe it or not, there were street signs out in the desert, ready for new urban sprawl. On the way through the Panamint Valley, we stopped in Trona, CA for gas. "What do ya'll do here for entertainment?", says I. "Watch the rocks grow", says the lady at the counter.
We went in to Death Valley via the "back way", passed a group of cyclists, and drove around (north) to Stovepipe Wells and walked out on the sand dunes (cue R2D2 and C3P0 from Starwars, here). It is interesting how the good air quality affects depth perception out there and makes long range objects appear closer.
We went to the visitors center on the east side of Telescope, north of Badwater. Interesting thing here was the living area for the indigenous people (rangers), kinda run down. But the visitors centor was nice.
Later inthe day, we went up the drive to the camping area for telescope peak. Quite a rise in elevation without a clue to the affects of altitude sickness. We had brought a substantial supply of scrap wood with us for a campfire, although I suggested to mtntrail2 that he go ask the local tree hugger group camped beside us if they thought it OK to cut down a 5000 year old bristlecone pine for firewood. Hell, I'm from Mississippi. We burn pine trees all the time!
After the Dinty Moore Stew out of a can and a coulpe of rounds of COOM-BAH-YAH from the tree huggers, it rained and snowed and sleeted. By the way, it is not supposed to storm in the middle of the desert.
We got in the front of mtntrail2's Toyota pickup which, believe it or not, IS NOT designed as sleeping quarters for 2 adults. The beforementioned altitude sickness set in for me and, well, what a waste of Dinty Moore stew. I still can see it plain as day - two guys, in the desert, on top of a mountain, in a storm, one holding the other by the hair of his head while the victim hurls into the night.
Do you know what the phrase "ignorance is bliss" means? It means that you walk next to sheer drops without a clue as to the fact that you are doing so. This is what we did going up the mahogany flats route. We had a map, water, snack food, camera, compass, and a lot of wind blown fog. We made it to the top in a sleet storm, took a couple of pictures and came on down. The tree huggers couldn't believe their eys when they saw us coming off the trail. On to better things.......
My first mountain! Man....did I have a lot to learn about climbing. Here is a pic of me and my brother David on the summit. Here is a trip report.
Didn't quite get my 2 wheel drive pick-up all the way up the icy road to Mahogany Flat in February but came close. Once on the trail, with the enormous expanse of Death Valley to the east, it's easy to lose all ability to judge distance. Upon first catching sight of the summit, I thought I would be there in less than 2 hours. NOT! It was closer to 6 hours. All of the upper trail was snowbound so I just kick-steped up the ridge in firm snow drifts being careful to stay well to the windward side. To see the wind sculpted bristle cone pines against the deep blue sky was a great experience. After signing the summit register, the plunge step back down was excellent.
A pretty easy 14 mile round trip hike to the peak and back. Still lots of soft snow and awesome views to make it a great trip!!
The weather was perfect today. It was 32 degrees at 6:00am and there had been snow flurries at the 9000 ft level the day before. We were in between storms. The summit was a bit cool with the wind blowing. The view was clear towards Death valley, but obscured to the west and the Sierra Nevada.
The weather was beautiful as we left Mahogany Flat campground around 0830. As we neared the summit there was a little wind, but not bad. It was hazy (see my pics), but still awesome views. I humped my fat ass up there in 4 hours and down in 3. Guess I should drink less beer. NOT.
I did this trip in the winter because of the cool weather in Death Valley. I walked out to where I thought would be the lowest point in the U.S., then I started my long trek up. I followed Hanaupah road until it ends, then cross-country up a few ridges to the base of Bennett Peak. Here, I picked up the regular trail to the summit.
I met some mid-west hikers camping by the summit where I borrowed some water for the descent.
This is an all day and night roundtrip, about 15-16 hours. Be prepared with lots of water! Correct me if I am wrong, I think this hike is the most elevation gain on a mountain in the lower 48's
The heat was unbearable in Vegas on Saturday, so naturally, I decided to drive to Death Valley. My plan was to attempt the Badwater to Telescope peak trek, but I chickened out when I got there. Temps were in the 100's and the wind was howling. The actual hike looked very long and boring, and it seemed like more suffering than I was in the mood for.
So, I took the wimpy way up via Mahogany Flats. This was a very easy, 14 mile RT hike, although it seemed shorter than that. I only saw a couple tiny patches of snow along they way, but I did see some water far below in the canyons and drainages east of the Peak. These could possibly be useful on a trek from Badwater.
Reached the summit quickly with no snow on the trail in just under 1:15 and down in under one hour. Could see Mt. Charleston, near Las Vegas, which I climbed the day before.
Drove my "hot-rod"Lincoln to the steepest part of the road in the snow. Got stuck, slept the night in the car, at 10:25am, departed for the summit. I was about 1 1/2 miles below the campground where I started. The winds where howling. Once past Bennett Peak, the wind was blowing around 50 mph. with major snow driffs. Going was slow because I needed snow shoes. Once on the backside of the peak the wind was calmer. I new it would be bad on top when I could see the clouds go by in a matter of seconds. On top, I sign the registered as quickly as I could without getting frostbittern. I descended the same way mostly running to stay warm. Made it back to the Lincoln at 4pm. Two hours later I was able to pull my car out.
Left just before 6 AM on the trail, only to see our summit shrowded in a growing clouds, as we moved upwards. We pushed on and summitted through very high winds along the ridge lines. No view, but we imagined what it would be like. On the way back down the snow came quick and hard - 6 - 10 inches in an hour, with drifting on the trails. Road from the kilns to the campground are pretty bad. We made it in a 2 wheel drive car, but in retrospect, like the park rangers - recommend a 4x4 high clearance.