Funeral Peak


By: Bob Greenwalt


For many years, I have wanted to climb Funeral Peak, part of the barrier system separating Greenwater Valley from Death Valley. Formerly a Desert Peak, it was stricken from our List maybe twenty years ago. Opposing advocates contended that this summit was too easy, and too close to other more imposing heights, and it finally became trashcanned.

Timing was right for such an adventure. Friday AM, we mustered up eight eager participants and without any regrets, attended Our Own Funeral. Recently, being within the new National Park boundary, an access road to within half a horizontal mile from its 6384' topside bench mark, has been curtailed. Now the most logical access is from the main N-S Greenwater Valley road, using a straight line westerly course of 3.5 miles as a vector(refer to USGS 15 minute Funeral Peak Quadrangle topo sheet). The first couple of miles are easy--scampering over the desert floor. This accomplished, on its slopes are a number of small basalt boulder fields and several false summits that require traversing. The nearly 2500 ft gain makes for a very respectable climb, and the vistas Funeral offers are unimpaired to Telescope, Charleston, Avawatz, Pyramid et al. It is no Dante's View for nearly-vertical D V panoramas, however. Its register records little traffic as the last entry, penciled by Bob Michael, was in 1996 springtime. Our group was under way by 10Akl and the last arrivals back at the cars sauntered in just past sunset, where it was decided that we camp. The pleasant pre-dawn sky favored us with Comet Hale-Bopp.

So Funeral is not un morceau de gateau! And in my mind, this peak Is a fine one. I would immediately petition for a List status return were it not for a plea from one of our prominent members that I refrain from such an ill thought. She is striving to become a List Finisher maybe next year and wants no more current competition! Our Funeral crew comprised Barbara Reber, Bill Bradley, Fred Camphausen, Henry Heusinkveld, Abe Siemens. Roy Wells, Jack Lahey, and myself.

Friday was only the preamble to a weekend event staged by the Death Valley Hiker Ass'n, of which a few DPSers are members. On Saturday AM, twenty backpackers began the journey within Greenwater Valley at the old site of Furnace, where copper mining speculation ran amuck in 1~06-07. Also visited were the sites of Kunze and Greenwater; still replete with deep prospect holes generally protected with wire rope netting.

We kept walking into the east until short of dusk, where we found ourselves within the Greenwater Range at a pre-arranged stop with cached water--thanks to our thoughtful leader, George Huxtable of San Mateo. Sunday AM we entered Greenwater Canyon proper--now off limits for vehicles (new Park policy, too) and within the hour of march we dropped packs to visit some noteworthy aboriginal sites in a northerly side canyon. High above this solid rock bottom watercourse repose several caves with numerous multi-colored 'glyphs and 'graphs. Luckily, they are not delineated on any tourist maps! The reason for their existence is apparently due to the various tinajas within said watercourse--those natural tank depressions that retain runoff for long periods and remain timeworn favorites of all life. One tinaja still held moisture, we noted. By mid-afternoon we had completed our 24-mile workout thru the Valley, Canyon, Range and northward into the Armagosa Valley and its localized extensive berate explorations.

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