Spirit Mountain, Avawatz Mountains
By: Bill Hunt
After an early morning storm that left an inch or more of snow on higher ground, 11 DPS students left Christmas Tree Pass at 8:45 Sat morn to make the ascent of Spirit Mtn. The air was clear and brisk allowing as steady pace up the rugged peak, and the gain took about three hours. A rather roundabout, yet very pleasant route up a long gully on the east side of the peak was followed but there were a few third class scrambles, which most climbers would describe as interesting. Following the summit lunch, our descent to the cars was made by a more direct route, traversing the west side of the mountain. We were back to our seats by 2:30 PM.
By 8:30 Sun morning, our Avawatz Peak numbers had swelled to fifteen, meeting at Sheep Creek Springs, at the very southern end of Death Valley. A false start near the beginning of operations in the form of an 800' gain to a ridge and return was enough to ward off three potential summit signatures. A right look at the topo sheet, which one climber was smart enough to bring, showed that we had several miles to go before the ridge ascent. Lunch was eaten on the slopes below the peak in bright sunshine along with cool breezes. Patches of snow from the previous day's weather, still evident on the lee slopes, helped to replenish half-empty canteens. The loyal bunch reached the 6154' top at about 1:45, plenty tired, but glad to have finished the 5000' elevation gain, the false start being included. From Avawatz's heights, Mt Charleston, Telescope Pk, and Mt San Gorgonio, all snow-capped, could be discerned in the extra clean air.
After too short a rest, the long walk back down the fairly steep slopes at the mountain's top was in gear. Two deserted mines were inspected for souvenirs, but conveniently all contents ware too heavy for removal. We were headed back towards Baker when the five o'clock whistle blew.
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