By: Shane Smith
On the weekend of September 29th-30th, Jane Gibbons, her husband Patrick, and myself teamed up to hike Moapa and Virgin Peaks. I had run into Jane and Pat about a year and a half earlier on a DPS trip to Edgar and Mitchell peaks. We discovered we both live in Apple Valley and were in the peak-bagging mode. Jane decided to work at finishing the list in not much over a year in order to complete it before she and Pat head off to live in Maine in the retirement years. So for the past year, practically every weekend, she has been hiking two DPS peaks. It has been nice to team up with them on a majority of these, sharing in our resources and building our mountain climbing skills.
Moapa was a long day and the heat made it tough. We followed the DPS route guide and made the summit without too much difficulty. The “airy knife ridge” was an interesting traverse and we made sure to take it nice and slow. The next day saw us heading up to the starting point for Virgin Peak. We noticed on our 7.5 USGS topo map that the 4wd road continued past the DPS take off point and got closer to the summit. From experience, we knew that the DPS guides are set at a point for a good reason. However, that day we just decided to go for it from a point further up the road. Guess we were feeling adventurous!! What we managed to find was a nice route up the steep cliffy east face of Virgin. This route does have its share of brush so be prepared. It was a fun jaunt and for anyone that would like to try it, the directions are as follows (Follow along with the 7.5 USGS Virgin Peak topo with the UTM points):
Drive past the 4wd DPS parking spot for roughly 3/4 of a mile to a bouldery road heading off to the left (west). This is shown on the topo as the first left spur off of the 4wd road (UTM 4054025, 759500). Continue .25 mi to roads end (or opt to park at this juncture and hike up .25mi as it is poor 4wd). The ridge that you will hike is the ridge that you just passed on the left (west) side of the road. Hike 200 yards back to this ridge (UTM 40545, 75935) and ascend. Before you reach the top of the ridge (7200ft.) contour to the right (north) going into the adjacent gully (brushy) and continue up to the top of the gully. This will place you near the base of the cliffy east Virgin face. Hike directly to the base of the cliffs (UTM 4054650 758550). Here you will encounter class 3 slabs! boulders the easiest of which can be ascended on the far right; or even easier yet continue 150 yards to the right catching a gully, ascend 50 feet and turn left, bypassing the class 3 all together. Now you’ll be on top of the class 3 section. Continue left (south) and work your way up a single ledge (faint use trail) which will make a nice turn around a corner and place you on a class 2 scree slope with 200 feet to go to the top of Virgin.
It was nice to get to the top of Virgin peak via this route. We realized once we reached the cliffy base, if we didn’t succeed in finding a way to the summit, we would have to return another weekend as the hour was getting late. On a final note, as of this writing, Jane has completed 93 peaks and is planning her list finish as a DPS trip to Little Picacho on December 15th. Hope to see all climbers there!!
Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the|
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides
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