Willow Peak - Columbus Day

Willow Peak - Columbus Day

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 36.38600°N / 115.773°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Oct 9, 2006
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Bouldering, Mixed, Scrambling, Canyoneering
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

The Plan

Bonanza and Willow Peaks
Wild Horses and Willow Peak
My initial plan was to hike 3 peaks: Wheeler Peak, Willow Peak, and finally Bonanza Peak. I was planning on driving up and parking at Wheeler Pass. From there hike Wheeler Peak. Then come back and take a break at my vehicle and then hike up to Willow Peak, then along the ridge and on the Bonanza Trail to Bonanza Peak and then back over Willow Peak down to Wheeler Pass. I left my house in North Las Vegas at 7AM. Got to Cold Creek about 7:45AM. Saw several wild horses off the side of the rode. We stopped and my friend went and got one to come to him. We took several pictures of the horses. Then we tried to navigate our way to Wheeler Pass. We saw a sign but then when we went on the road there were signs saying private property. I believe this was just to deter tourists. So we got lost for over an hour trying to find a way through the community of Cold Creek to get to Wheeler Pass.

After about an hour or more of trying to find out way to Wheeler Pass, we even asked a local driving by but he was not a hiker so he was no help, we decided to drive up to the Bonanza Trailhead and hike Bonanza Peak or Willow.

The Hike

We started on the Bonanza Trail at about 9:30AM. My friend is a slow paced hiker and the switchbacks up the trail were tiring him out. From some vantage points we could start to see the route to get to Wheeler Pass. We almost turned around to go back and hike Wheeler. We kept going though. We got up to the ridge at about 11:40AM. My GPS said it was 2.8 miles up to this point and about 9,769 feet. I knew it was a ways down to Willow Peak along the ridge but wasn't thinking. My friend didnt' want to hike the rest of the way up to Bonanza Peak which was only about a mile more and just over 600 feet of elevation gain.

We then decided to start heading towards Willow Peak. We headed North and the trail ended. We got up over a small class 3 section and then saw Willow Peak and were shocked how far down the ridge it was. But we decided to go for it. There were several class 3 sections along the way with lots of ups and downs. We scrambled over an arch, up through some short chutes, and lots lots more. Treking was slow. I got to the summit about 1:35PM. My friend showed up about 10 minutes after I got to the summit. He was limping up in pain. I found out he had a 5 foot fall on a class 3 section and a boulder came loose and came down on his legs. He was tough though and was getting through it. We signed the summit log in the jar under the rocks on the summit. It was cloudy. We saw a few snow flakes. Heard some jets flying over too.

The biggest mistake we made was trying to rush and get back to the vehicle. We decided to take go straight down the peak through the canyon. We left the summit at 2PM. We had to climb down several class 3 sections then into a wash. From here we angled down and then ran into another wash and another ridge. This ended up being a no ending battle going over ridges and through washes as we hiked and climbed down from the summit. I had some plans I wanted to make that evening.

We then were split up on the way back and yelled for each other to let each other know we were still moving and trying to locate each other. We waited for each other at different times too to make sure we were each ok.
A rock once tumbled down and I yelled at him and it went between his legs and clipped him on his ankle. If I wouldn't have yelled down to him it would have been a lot worse. But again, he kept going and shook it off. I then kept a little more distnace between us and that's when we split up a little bit.

Soon it was 3PM, then 4PM. My friend already drank all his water in his camo pack and I was feeling worn out too. Again came up to another wash and then over another ridge. I could start to see the road to the trailhead off in the distance but things were just moving slow. I saw 2 F-16s fly over, probably getting ready for Red Flag this week (a big war game exercise over the Nevada Test Range a few times a year).At this time I was like, from now on I am going down the trails when I am unsure.

The land started to get flatter and there were little trails made from horses that I followed for a while. Then I came up on another wash and hiked up the ridge. I then was on a trail and yelled for my friend Jeff again. He wasn't far behind. I was getting worried I wouldn't be home in time to get ready for my plans that evening. Jeff then yelled for me and said he was giogn to head for the road since I was moving faster. At that time I wanted him to catch up cause I was right in front of 3 wild horses. He grew up with horses and loves them.

At this point I started heading down the trail. I could see another wash and one last small ridge to hike back up. But then the trail ended and I was plowing through bushes and brush about waist to chest high for about 100 or so feet of elevation loss towards the last wash. I was yelling and screaming. Had several slow motion falls. Had to re-tie shoe laces several times. I felt like I was a running back again going through a gauntlet like I did in football practice in Junior High and High School. I then got to the wash. My GPS battery was almost dead when we left Willow Peak. I turned it back on though to help me find my way back to my Pickup. I then got to my truck at 4:49PM.

I then got organized and left the trailhead down the road and started honking so my friend could hear me. Saw many wild horses off in the trees off the road. About 2 minutes down the road Jeff got out on the road about 100 yards in front of me. He got in the truck and was bleeding on his legs with lots of scratch marks. I had an extra peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my cooler and he asked if he could have it, he needed to eat something. He ate it down in less than a minute. We were then on our way back home. I still made it home in time and to my plans without a minute to spare.

Willow Peak

Approaching the Summit
On the summit
Summit of Willow Peak

It was 4.4 miles to the summit. The last part from the ridge to the peak was 1.6 miles that took us 2 hours. Lesson learned, don't try to rush to get back and go through canyons, brush, washes, and over ridges. Take your time. I planned on 3 peaks today, but ended up only getting one. The one peak I chose ended up being the hardest of the 3 and took a difficult route to and from the summit.


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