Eagle Mountain #2, Brown Peak, Smith Mountain
By: Maris Valkass
Eagle has been written up exhaustively & well by Harsh, Jones, Valkass, and others, but - 181/2 mi N of Shoshone, Cal 127 makes a gradual left turn; leave the pavement on this turn & drive east, then north along the dirt track that runs under the phone line, nearly + mi, then go right & park on the bank of the Amargosa River. Walk toward the big notch, in the skyline just left (NW) of the high point. Three parallel watercourses descend this side of the mountain, about 30 yds apart. Start up left of the left gully, then drop into the left gully, then the center gully, as the route runs out in the gully you're in. At a point where the center gully becomes steep, angle right again & up to the ridge top & follow it to the summit. Go behind the first rocks, then back to the front (southwest side) & angle up to a duck or two on a rib some 100 ft below the crest. The summit is perhaps two hundred yards from this point and is NOT the furthest point seen. Stay on the front side & ascend the summit block. We overshot the summit block and did it from the other (SE) side which goes nicely but is a bit airy. Only class 3 on the entire route is a step-down into the middle gully and the 15' up the summit block. 6 people, 2000' gain, 3 mi and 3 hrs r.t. One person asked for a rope coming off the summit block. We then drove a couple of hundred yard. NW on Cal 127 & left on a dirt road south toward Deadman's Pass to climb Brown. The first mile or so of this road is in a sandy wash; Dave Campbell's VW van and Barbara Reber's 2WD Toyota P/U joined my Toyota 4WD; some pushing & towing was needed after we were sidetracked onto a graded mine road track that leaves the wash. All vehicles can get through this wash if they keep speed & RPM's up and don't get sidetracked! After a mile or so, the road leaves the wash and becomes excellent for all vehicles. We drove south to about 2850' elevation and headed almost due east for the peak. If one beelines across the desert for the peak, one enters an extensive wash. Stay in the wash, bypass a few dry waterfalls and then enter an extensive cirque, surrounded by cliffs Go left (north) and ascend the ridge, then turn east again & follow this ridge up to the broad summit plateau; the register is on the high point. I left the gully too early & got us into some loose rock. Bob Dubeau stepped on a large, unstable boulder that rolled underfoot. He fell into a nearby boulder face first & cut his chin and cheek. Barbara Reber, Bill Oliver, and Julie King elected to walk Bob out to Barbara's pickup, then they drove back to Hwy 127 & Bob & Julie went looking for an emergency room. At Shoshone, they were sent to Pahrump, Nevada, where there is a 24-hr emergency medical service. The M.D. there on duty took a few stitches in Bob's chin & charged him $110, cash only, no plastic. He rejoined us that evening at Tecopa Hot Springs & did Smith with us the next day. 7 people continued to the summit, 7 mi. r.t., 2100 gain, 5 hrs r.t. incl lunch.
Naturally, we hit Tecopa Hot Springs that evening; the day's cold & wind made it especially welcome (Ice was still floating in the pond in the Amargosa River after we did Eagle at 10 A.M. !). Most of us ate at the Miner's Diner in Tecopa (O.K. & reasonably priced, but no Michilin star!) Also no beer or wine license - and they wouldn't let us bring in our own. Mark Galbreath, the Campbells' son, started a fire, but it was too windy, cold, and late for most of us & we crashed.
Sunday A.M., we met at the Shoshone Cafe for breakfast where Cuno and Don Sparks joined us for Smith. We drove up the Greenwater Valley, consolidated, 7 of us in each of two vehicles, Campbell's VW van & Dale's Toyota 4WD and drove into Gold Valley, even taking the shortcut left just past the high point in the road. Someone had done shovel work on the road; it went fine all the way; but we did take the northern branch, labeled 3.2 on the Auto Club Death Valley map, on the way out to avoid a steep hill. We parked at about 3800' on road, walked due west to the major gully just south of 5386'
(Funeral Peak 15'), walked SW up this gully, past a short, easy cl 3 move; topped out in the saddle just east of the peak & hiked up to the high point, 5960'+, then west a few hundred yards to the benchmark and register, at 5912'. A quick sunny lunch out of the wind in a leeward saddle & down to the cars. Pavement by 3:30, another quick dip in Tecopa Hot Springs & din din at Rosita's in Barstow (good, not outstanding, Mexican food) Smith: 14 people, 6 mi r.t., 2100 gain, 4 hrs r.t. incl lunch, plus nearly 4 hr's of off-pavement driving. Thanks to Barbara R & Bill 0 for helping Bob D out to his car and thanks to Edna for playing sweep on two peaks. -Dale (91; two to go!)
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