Waucoba Mountain, Nelson Range, Pleasant Point
By: John Backus
A dozen and a half climbers met at the appointed spot outside Big Pine this cold Saturday morning. We caravaned in to the start of Waucoba climb, noting with some foreboding that the peak was shrouded in clouds. We started up the mountain, hoping the clouds would disappear, but they didn't: instead, it began to snow, and was soon a full-fledged blizzard, complete with gales. By this time we were past the steepest climbing, so we pushed on. Just below the summit we stopped in a somewhat sheltered spot, from which small groups dashed to the top through the blizzard, signed the register, and dashed back. The view from the summit was quite unspectacular, being limited to about 5O'. On the way down the snow stopped, and the sun was shining when we returned to the cars. We then began the long trail down the Saline Valley, which I had always wanted to see; I don't particularly care to see it again. We camped on the ridge at the south end of the valley.
Sunday we drove in to the old mine which is the roadhead for Nelson Mt. This mountain was climbed without the assistance of blizzards, giving us views of Waucoba (without clouds this time) and the race track in Death Valley. Arriving back at the cars, we informed by Dick Akawie that the road to Cerro Gordo Mine from the east was blocked by snow near the top, so we decided to drive around and go in from the west, at Keeler. We almost made it to the mine without incident; unfortunately, a half mile from the mine my van got tired and refused to go any farther, much to my embarrassment. After some effort we got it parked and set off for the mine. From here Pleasant Mtn, is a straightforward climb, first along the upper road from the mine to the ridge, then along the ridge, bypassing an imposing pile of rock which at first sight appears to be the peak, but isn't. After admiring the view of the High Sierra from the peak, we hiked back to the cars and drove out to supper and home.
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