Moapa Peak, Virgin Peak

31-Dec-95 (Private trip)

By: Charlie Knapke


This group was originally ten in number. For various reasons it dwindled to six hearty party types. I was tied up at work late Friday and got a Saturday morning start for southern Nevada.. The rest of the group drove out Friday night. These five people climbed Mormon Peak on Saturday. Mormon is a few miles north of Moapa Peak. The climbing portion of the trip went well however they tell me that driving into the trail head is an adventure in itself.

I arrived at the trailhead for Moapa on Saturday afternoon at about 2:00 p.m. There were two cars already there but no one was about. Just about dark the Mormon trekkers arrived. We set up the typical DPS type feast in the desert. We debated where the owners of the two cars had gone. We decided, or at least hoped they were backpackers and not dayhikers as it was well after dark at this point.

About 8:00 p.m. after most of the food and much of the sobriety was gone, four weary figures appeared out of the darkness. It was Debbie Bulger & friends. We had never met each other but had seen each other's names around. Debbie looked over all of the cooking gear with apparent amazement. She said she had heard about DPS feeds but had never experienced one before. She asked us if there was supposed to be a Burro baking somewhere. She told us they had just climbed Moapa Peak. They had started at 8:30 a.m. that morning and had just returned. This means they were at it 11-1/2 hours. The DPS Peak guides estimates 6 hours round trip. Vic Henney who had done the peak twice before thought it had taken them about six hours. We asked if they had gotten off route but Debbie said they had followed ducked ledges up to the summit. They declined to join us in favor of camping closer to the highway in order to get an early start in the morning.

Sunday we left for the peak at 7:35 a.m. We followed the tracks of the previous party as they followed the correct route all of the way to the peak with a couple of minor differences. We summited at about 11:00 a.m. and were back to the cars at 2:35 p.m. We could not determine why Debbie's group got back so late. It is still a mystery to us.

Sunday night was New Year's Eve. We repeated the previous night's festivities with some slight changes in the menu. A bottle of Champagne appeared sometime during the night to celebrate the New Year. Early Sunday morning the group broke up. Vic & Sue Henney decided to forego their planned peak in Death Valley and headed for home. Phil & Evelyn Reher went home to tend to a sick dog. Tom Sumner & I headed for the Virgin mountains to the Southeast.

After about an hour's drive we arrived at the recommended trail head marked by an old push-type lawnmower of mysterious origin. (Grass does not grow around here.) This is a straight forward hike. We ran up to the peak and were back at the cars about 11:30 a.m. The DPS peak guide for this peak is incorrect. The gain from the 4WD parking place is about 3800'. The guide says 2200'.

We then headed for the barn. We hit Las Vegas traffic heading back to L.A. The news reporter were making fun of this phenomenon on the radio. It wasn't funny from where I sat behind the wheel. Over two hundred miles of stop-n-go traffic. Never again will I hike near Vegas on a New Years Weekend! I left Vegas at 12:30 a.m. Monday and arrived home in Orange County at 6:05 a.m. the next day. I guess its true. A Virgin does fetch a high price.

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