Telescope Peak


By: John McCully


Telescope (11,049) from Hanaupah Springs (4,000) Private Trip
John & Windy McCully, Maris Valkass

Telescope (11,049) is occasionally done as an 11,000 foot day bike from Shorty's Well (-260) in Death Valley. Ron Hudson, for example, led a bunch of us loonies up this route in 1984.

Stories about Cal Tech undergrads doing Telescope from the floor of the valley (even from Badwater!) are quite common, it must be a form of hazing or a requirement to graduate. Many years ago Maris, some Cal Tech undergrads and I hiked from Mahagony Flats down the North Fork of Hanaupah Canyon to Shorty's Well. After spending the night at Shorty's Well with Igor and some other people who drove up that day, we walked back up the poor road to Hanaupah Springs in a crazed attempt to do Telescope as a loop trip from Mahagony Flats. A storm arrived just as we got to the Springs and we had to call the whole thing off, to everyone's great relief. One problem was that our car was at Mahagony Flats, but Igor had a car back at Shorty's Well and was able to drive us around to our car.

For the hike last December we decided to drive up the road and just do the 7,000 foot hike from Hanaupah Springs. We left the springs at six AM, going up the creek a few hundred yards before gaining up the ridge on the right. Once we got on the ridge it looked like it would be best to avoid the creek entirely, directly gaining the ridge by going Northwest from the car. It's quite a nice class one-two ridge, occasionally somewhat steep, with a few minutes worth of brush. We connected at 10,000 feet with the trail coming over from Mahagony Flats at noon, at which point it was decided that I would return immediately to the car and drive around and meet Wendy and Maris at Mahagony Flats. They proceeded on to the peak, arriving at 1PM, and got to Mahagony Flats at 4:30. I followed the ridge back down to 6,000 feet and then dropped into the gully to see if I could cook up an adventure with a dry waterfall. Nothing appeared that couldn't be quickly worked around so I got to the car at 3:15. After getting the truck stuck I got to Shorty's Well at 4 and met Wendy and Maris walking down the road below the Wildrose Kilns at 5:20.

While coming down the ridge I heard a snarl by some sort of cat. It was like the sound a cat makes when a dog gets too close but about 10 times as loud. After my heart returned to normal I took out my camera and yelled into the clump of bushes but whatever it was decided to be quiet and invisible so I didn't see anything or hear anything further

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section