Hayford Peak, Moapa Peak, Virgin Peak, Mount Tipton, Whipple Mountains
By: Mark Adrain
Rob Langsdorf, Dennis Richards, Mark Adrian
Leaving San Diego on Tuesday (10/27/92) afternoon, we drove out I-15 towards Las Vegas with numerous lightening flashes along the way. After fuel and food in LV, we headed up NV 95 to the wildlife range.
Hayford : The drive in goes well and 2WDs should have no problems. Since the days are short, we got a "crack-of-dawn start on this 15-mile peak. So, after brushing a Black Widow spider off my daypack, we started up Deadman Canyon in the twilight. The weather, to this point, was comfortably cool, with occasional rays of sun bursting through clouds and lighting up the canyon walls. Arriving at the Hidden Forest cabin, we were somewhat disappointed to see that the cabin's glass door had been broken and was laying in pieces nearby. Leaving the cabin, we took the ridgeline that goes N from Wiregrass Spring. This route is not shown on the Guide's 6.5 Map 2. Arriving at the peak around noon, we were totally submerged in cloud cover - thankfully, there was no wind. Since this was my third time on Hayford, I recommended we descend via the Guide's 'canyon route' which goes directly S from the peak. Leaving the summit in 'spitting hail' and fog, I went one canyon too far E, which ended up being the uppermost-end of Deadman Canyon. I soon realized this, since it looked/felt so unfamiliar. The map showed Deadman Canyon intersecting the 'normal' route, so we stayed with it. This proved somewhat more interesting as we encountered the strewn carnage of what must have been a military jet. We followed the remains for at least 0.35 miles. After a short break at the cabin, we headed back down the canyon and arrived at the TH just after dark, then back to LV and up I-15 to Moapa.
Moapa : Leaving 1-15 at Exit 100, we proceeded along the good dirt road passing power lines, water trough, and a corral, the latter two on the left hand side. There are several cross and spur roads which can be misleading in the dark - as it was for us. Once past the power lines, take right-hand forks when they're encountered. The last three miles are high clearance, probably 4WD. Next morning, the weather had cleared up somewhat, yet Moapa's summit was shrouded in clouds. Nevertheless, the mountain's SE face was an impressive wall to see as we ate a leisurely breakfast before the anticipated six-hour hike. Leaving about eight, with 9mm rope, we proceeded across Jacks Pockets and headed up the wash, negotiating a class three waterfall en route to the ducked third class ledges. Per the Guide, we continued up to the base of Moapa's SE (not SW) face/cliffs, then contoured NE. From our vantage point, we couldn't see the intimate details of Moapa's ridgeline. We had followed the Guide's topo map 'to the JIM', taking VERY careful bearings. Eventually turning NW, up what looked like a reasonable chute (way before point 6091), we encountered a very small notch, through which was an impressive view of Moapa's sheer NW face, a 600' vertical wall. On either side of this notch, was HIGH class three rock. We became suspicious of the route here, since we couldn't determine if this would take us up to the documented 'knife-edge' ridgeline. After much deliberation, map analysis, scouting, and bearings verification, we determined that we were where the Guide's route indicated we should be. We also concluded the Guide was off. So, we backtracked about 0.25 miles SW to a friendlier chute/slope that easily lead up to a nice mellow FLAT saddle where we encountered several BIG ducks and the obvious 'knife-edged airy crest'. The correct route description is : follow the sheer cliffs across two (2) drainage's to a ridge. This ridge is the first break in otherwise vertical cliffs. To say the least, in my opinion, 'knife-edged' is an understatement. Adrenaline flow here is HIGH, as is the exposure. Clusters of questionable rock, and few wide spots make the traverse poor for belay anchoring. As such, we did it free, utilizing an occasional butt-slide, and numerous 'all-fours' techniques. Luckily, the weather was high-clouds with mild breezes. This peak needs a new canister; we left a new register since the existing one was soaked. We placed several ducks on our decent from the crest's saddle down to the cliff contour. Back at the bottom of the third class ledges at sunset, we had incredible views of the sun's golden rays as they streaked through the clouds out over the desert floor. We arrived back at the truck about 6:30 in the dark. After soft drinks and a snack, it was off to Virgin.
Virgin : Driving NE on I-15 to Exit 112, we went the prescribed three miles towards Riverside, NV., passing over the Virgin River to the (green and white) signed RIVERSIDE RD., (note that the 6.13 Guide indicates a Gold Butte Road sign here - which we didn't see at this 'T' intersection). Several miles past this right (SW) turn, we discovered a large wood-carved Gold Butte Road sign on the right (W) hand side of the road. Continuing on, we followed the Guide's directions to the mining ruins at the end of the 2.8 mile 'pitch'. I don't think 2WDs can get here due to a LARGE mid-road rock not far past the corral. We were to later discover that we could, and should have, continued driving along this road another 1.25 miles (or so). The current Guide directions have you parking near Point 1775T, (just to the U of the 'U' in mountains).. This adds another three-plus miles, which is an easy and scenic ridge walk, (recommended rather than the road for- 2WDers - head from Point 1775T towards Point 2023T, then connect with the 4WD route). The correct trail head has a round water trough and indications of being a (DPS) car camp sight. From our car camp just below Point 1775T, we ascended to the ridgeline where our map and compass guru (Rob) realized we were significantly further S on the ridgeline than the 4WD route indicated. Nevertheless, the views were great, although the cloud cover ceiling was only a thousand or so feet overhead. We proceeded along the ridge enjoying the cool weather and healthy wind gusts. Soon, however, we were in damp fog, and the views withered. Eventually, through the eerie cloud cover, we arrived at the peak. The register is OK, but a new canister is needed. After contacting Ken Olson (whose list finisher would be the next day on Tipton) and Dave Jurasevich, on my HAM radio, we departed the peak and headed back down the ridgeline. Just after dropping below the clouds, we could see approaching rain from the 8, SW, & U. Soon, the rain was upon us as well. We decided to drop down to the 4WD road per the Guide and walk the road. Somewhat wet, we arrived back at the truck around 3:30 and quickly exited before the 4WD road collected any more water. It continued to rain most of the way back to LV, where we had dinner, got gas and supplies. From here, we proceeded over Hoover Dam and down to meet the Olson-Carey-Hill list finisher group just N of Dolan Springs Road. We spent the night there before doing Tipton with them the next day.
Tipton: Olson-Carey-Hill triple list finisher. See write-up documented elsewhere. After the list finisher festivities, we headed S on I-40 towards Needles and then on to the drive in for Whipple. Whipple: From the N, (Routes B & C), the drive in goes well except that 2WDs may have problems on the last 0.5 miles due to a stretch of deep sand and, (a. few yards further), a DEEP rut. Also, it's easy to miss the fair dirt road heading 95W after the 6.8 mile 'pitch' - especially in the dark. We erected a duck here to make the turnoff more obvious. We ascended via Route B and encountered six wild burros/donkeys shortly after leaving the parking area. We tailed them for about 0.25 miles as they were very photogenic and struck numerous poses. Continuing up the wash, we eventually reached the saddle and then tackled the steep gully which tops out at the summit ridge. The register was completely soaked and barely readable. The canister seems in good condition, especially since we had to pry the lid off. Yet, it should be replaced because it apparently leaks. Since the weather was perfectly clear, we spent about an hour on top. We decided to descend via Route C, which is fairly steep for the first mile or so after you depart the summit's ridge until you reach the wash. The wash, from this point on, is unexpectedly scenic -- lots of BIG vertical faces along the canyon walls, and interesting rock scrambling as you descend. We left the parking area about 2:30 and stopped at Gramma's Kitchen in Banning for dinner. We returned to San Diego at 10:00 P.M.
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