Panamint Butte


By: Igor and Suzanne Thomas-Mamedalin


We decided that it was time for us to climb the two latest additions to the Desert Peak List: Canyon Point and Panamint Butte. So, we scheduled an outing to claim these two fine summits for April 25-26th. Anticipating a large turnout (everybody needs new peaks!), we were somewhat disappointed that only six participants signed up. Then, discovering a schedule conflict, we re-scheduled this trip to occur a week earlier. Well, by Thursday afternoon all six would-be participants canceled. In anguish, we re-checked the strength of our anti-perspirant spray and deodorant soap as we prepared to set out on this venture alone. But, at the last minute, our friends came through .. Dr. J. Holshuh and Sue Levitan decided to join us for the company and climb while John and Wendy McCully lent us their dog, Chessie, for the weekend! Driving out early Friday morning, we stopped along the way to climb Red Mountain which was covered with flowers as were the high desert vistas in the vicinity. Friday evening John and Wendy arrived at the Big Four Mine road-end to drop off Chessie and to cook a fine steak dinner over a charcoal pit dug in the middle of the road. Later that night, as John and Wendy left to join another trip heading for Sentinel Peak, Dr. J. and Sue arrived (no steak was left).

The road to the Big Four Mine deteriorates rapidly after the sharp turn east .. the last mile has been completely washed out. Early Saturday morning, the leaders, Tanya Mamedalin, Dr. J. and Sue, Comet and Chessie headed up the road remains to the canyon mouth and then painfully gained the northern ridge (which should be caught earlier). The ridge was followed easily for 5,000' to the summit where lunch was eagerly consumed. On the summit we couldn't help noticing the large crate left by Steve Smith of the BLM containing various provisions, area maps, BLM literature and other artifacts suited to entertain summiters. After enjoying fine views from the summit we retraced our footsteps back to the trucks. The road-end was in the middle of a boulder strewn wash and at an awkward angle, so we moved our trucks down into the valley to camp in comfort alongside Lake Hill.

Sunday morning we drove over Towne Pass to Stovepipe Well. From there we took the dirt road that skirts the airfield and heads for Cottonwood Canyon. This was our first time in Cottonwood Canyon; it is certainly worth returning to for camping and exploring. From the road-end, we headed west following the intermittent trail along Cottonwood Stream. Our determination of summitting on Canyon Point languished as we stopped to sniff the abundant blooming flowers and to admire the towering cottonwood trees along the way. At Cottonwood Springs, the lunch deteriorated into an afternoon nap. As we headed back to the trucks, peakless, we resolved to return in the fall, when the cottonwood leaves turn color. Yes, the proper way to do Canyon Point is to backpack in to the springs, enjoy the ambience and to climb the peak in leisure.

On the way home, we missed the opportunity to return Chessie back to John and Wendy in Ballarat; they left twenty minutes before we arrived. Chessie got to accompany us home to spend another night with us and wait for John to pick her up on Monday. Many thanks to Dr. J and Sue for the company and to John and Wendy for the dog. As leaders, we are learning that rescheduling a scheduled trip is equivalent to canceling the trip.

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

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