Stewart Point, Pahrump Point
By: Bob Hartunian
The Wednesday evening news showed the pass between Baker and Las Vegas closed down from a snow storm. When people called on Thursday, I was tempted to cancel. But desert mountains are often dry when other areas are wet, so with fingers crossed that wind and rain would stay away, 10 of us drove to Shoshone on Friday evening. It turned out to be one of the finest weekends ever!
We had experienced fo1ks like George Toby, Graham Breakwell, Vic Henney and Sue Wyman showing off their climbing and hot tub skills to Ron Grau and Evelyn Chadwell, while Bob Beach, Dick Farrar and Patty Kline raced for who could undress quickest at Tecopa.
We had scouted both climbs over Thanksgiving so route finding was not supposed to be a problem (Surprise!). Patty was recouping from the flu and saved her energies for Pahrump while 9 of us climbed Stewart on Saturday following Randy Bernard's peak guide.
The trick to finding the Mud Domes camp is a sharp left turn off Hwy 178, 0.7 mi from Shoshone under the archway of two trees. It leads to a wind protected canyon, perfect for DPS parties.
Randy's guide was great to follow with one clarification: The ridge up Stewart starts at the junction of the main streambed and a hanging rock waterfall l5ft. high coming in from the south. Ducks lead up the ridge over loose scree for the first 500'. We hit snow near the top in bright sunshine. It only took the group 2 1/2 hours to make Stewart.
While drinking beer at the cars after the climb, a BLM Ranger stopped by just to talk. He was pleased to see a non-motorized SC group hiking the peaks. One of his responsibilities is to check on "water guzzlers" (drinking stations) for bighorn sheep located on the east side of Hwy 178.
We drove to the Tecopa hot springs, showered and refreshed in the free facilities, then met at the Mud Domes for Happy Hour. Toby fixed his "baked bean special" while we played real old 1950's music and enjoyed Ron's campfire with no wind.
Sunday we drove 10.8 ml from Shoshone, took the Pahrump trailhead turnoff for about 2 ml and followed the guide. However, there was snow on the north facing canyon slopes that fooled me into ascending out of the streambed too early. With Vic Henney scouting ahead, we traversed several chutes and skirted around rock outcroppings until back on route. It turned out to be a successful variation. All 10 of the party made the top and strolled down to the cars in sunshine for the ride home.
The great weather and really fine people made this an exceptionally enjoyable trip.
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