Avawatz Mountains, Kingston Peak
By: Igor Mamedalin, Maris Valkass
Fourteen trip participants met at 6:00 AM, on a freezing Saturday morning, just north of the intersection of I-15 and Cima Road. Assistant leader, Maris Valkass, overslept the appointed meeting time by a few minutes and came roaring in, jumping out of his truck dressed in shorts and T-shirt as the remainder of the group stood about shivering in long johns and parkas. From the meeting point, we headed north on Excelsior Mine road for 28 miles to a large flat parking area south of the road on top and amid large mine tailings. We did not attempt to negotiate the 4WD road that continues for another mile although we did find Bill Banks' vintage Subaru about a 1/2 mile in.
The north side of Kingston Peak was covered in snow and we kicked steps up a snow gully to gain the eastern ridge. After gaining the ridge, we bushwhacked and rock hopped southwest along the ridge to the summit which was reached in time for lunch at noon. Splendid views of the surrounding desert were enjoyed by all. The register, although stored in an adequate container, was thoroughly soaked and falling apart. Retracing our route and avoiding the snow gully we reached the parking lot around 4:00 PM.
Due to the late hour we chose to forego the soak at Tecopa Hot Springs and headed directly for the Avawatz road end at the Sheep Creek Spring cabin. The road to the cabin is passable to all 2WD vehicle as attested by Bob Wyka's T-Bird (Bob Wyka met us that evening after climbing Clark Mtn.). We reached the cabin at dusk and set about to fix dinner and taste the proffered hers d'oeuvre around the campfire. Mirna Roach fixed up some tasty vegie burritos and Suzanne Mamedalin brought out her famous Texas caviar. Bill Banks described his courageous business investment in the beautiful island of Madeira after his recent vacation there. Maris informed the group that the military is seeking to expand Fort Irwin boundaries eastward engulfing Avawatz Mt., crossing highway 127 (Baker-Shoshone road) and extending to the foothills of Kingston Peak. Modern weapons require vast desert acreage for testing. To retain access to one of our listed peaks, perhaps we should urge S-21 sponsors to extend the proposed Mojave National Park boundaries northward toward Death Valley National Park? The campfire did not last late into the night as everyone retired early to prepare for a 5 AM rise on Sunday.
The route from Sheep Creek Spring to Avawatz Mtn. is listed as being 18 miles round trip with 4,600' gain. After a breakfast by dawns early light, we started up the canyon at 6: 10 AM. Except for a short 10' class 3 scramble over a waterfall in the 'Narrows', the canyon is a long trudge on lumpy gravel. The skies were overcast and rain drizzled upon us for most of the journey up the canyon. At the head of the canyon we scramble through a crumbly gully to a ridge which was followed to the summit. The summit was reached by 10:15 AM but the views were obscured by a whiteout. To his surprise, Mario discovered that he had climbed the peak on a prior occasion by a different route. On the way down from the summit the skies cleared a bit and we were able to observe some of the military maneuvers on the Fort Irwin side of the mountain. The vanguard of the group reached the cars by 1:00 PM with everyone arnving back by 1:35 PM. The early start was unwarranted .. due to the terrain, cool weather conditions, and a fast paced group, the hike took less than 7 and 1/2 hours with tune allotted for lunch on the summit.
Many thanks to Maris for another fine assist and to everyone for helpmg make this a successful and pleasant desert experience. The trip participants over the two days were: Igor, Suzanne and Comet Mamedalin, Maris and Anna Valkass, Dr. J. Holshuh, Sue Leverton, Bob Wyka, Mane Gonzalez, Suzanne Booker, Russell Glavis, Greg and Mirna Roach, George Toby, Duke Blakesley, Alterio Banks, and Bob Grier ("Nevada Bob").
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