Mount Stirling, Corkscrew Peak
By: Steve Smith
Prelude: Since several major late winter snowstorms had moved through the desert, we were anticipating snow. Meeting at Indian Springs, NV on Saturday morning, the continuous blanket of visible snow on the Spring Mountains told us that we might have problems.
Mt. Stirling: Driving in from highway 95 on the traditional eastern approach, our vehicles were stopped by snow about 2 miles from roads end by snow at about 5200'. Still well out on the lower piedmont slope, the group decided to try walking. The desert scenery with its full veneer of snow was quite spectacular but also quickly became quite deep. By the time roads end was reached at 6000', we were into knee deep snow. So it was back to the cars by mid-day and plans to reschedule the trip for this Fall.
Interlude: Several spent the afternoon driving north of Las Vegas to see "Valley of Fire" State Park. A most colorful array of geologic features and petrified trees which is definitely worth seeing. Following an evening Las Vegas buffet, it was off to Death Valley.
Corkscrew Peak: Meeting several additional people Sunday morning, we started from "Hole-in-the-Rock" turnout along the Daylight Pass Road. A much lighter dusting of snow on the 3,000' lower peak caused no hiking problems but again added to the scenery and photography. The group wound its way up the limestone and shale thread and enjoyed the spectacular views down into Death Valley. The natural arch Hole-in-the-Wall was sighted just 1/4-mile south of the summit and several group photos were taken with the arch as a backstop.
Epilogue: Explaining to the Oregon tourists parked at the highway turnout that it is rewarding to climb in the desert.
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