Virgin Peak, Potosi Mountain
By: John Cheslick
Was this going to be another trip canceled due to El Nino? I had a couple of cancellations due to lack of faith in the weather forecast which was for partly cloudy skies in Las Vegas. However, the forecast for the LA area was for rain and as I left LA it was pouring. Once out of the LA basin the rain stopped and it turned out to be a wonderful weekend.
We meet at 7am and carpooled to the 4WD trailhead. We were a group of 5 counting the leaders. Our only concern was the snow. There was snow on top of all the ridges and the peak was almost in the clouds when we started hiking. It started to clear up as we climbed up to the main ridge. We encountered soft wet snow for about the last fifteen hundred feet. I always enjoy hiking on fresh, dare I say virginal snow, no footprints in sight and snow on the tree branches. It almost seemed like a late spring SPS hike. With the exception of the snow being soft, it was a pleasant 3 hour hike to the summit. The views were superb with red rock formations and Lake Mead in the distance. The trip down was quick and non-eventful. For dinner, we met at the Rio casino and tried their buffet. The casino has two buffets, we tried the World Buffet. For approximately $12, you get all the food you can eat plus a soft drink. I highly recommend this buffet, the food was varied and of high quality. Their desert bar was tremendous.
Sunday, we had a group of eight. Same concerns as before, the snow. The view from the road driving in was not encouraging but we decided to give it a go. We started from the spring and went up the A route variation. This route starts up a minor ridge which then joins the main ridge which you follow to the summit. The snow on Potosi started at about 7,000 feet and was deeper than Virgin with drifts up to 4 feet. However, it was more consolidated and rarely did our feet sink more than 6 inches in the snow. Robert Young and Mitch Miller helped in breaking trail and we were on the summit in 3 and quarter hours even with the snow. The weather was not as good as the day before with clouds moving in while we were on the summit.
On the way down we met a group from San Bernardino Search and Rescue practicing rescues in a mine shaft located about 200 feet up from the end of the road on the minor ridge. We chatted with them for awhile and then headed down and home for the long ride to LA. Thanks to Charlie Knapke for co-leading. Trip Participants were: Richard Whitcomb, Judy Hummerich, Neal Scott, Mitch Miller, Kathy Rasure, Robert Young and Burt Falk.
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