Sandy Point, Last Chance Mountain
By: Greg Roach
This was a very scenic trip. It had just snowed the week before and the mountains surrounding Eureka Valley looked beautiful. The snow level was down to about 7000 ft. Low enough to cover the summits with snow and make this trip fun and exciting. The routes we used to climb the peaks are not in the DPS guide. Vic Henney told me about these routes and they worked quite well even in the snow. Everyone enjoyed them. Thanks Vic!
We met in the Eureka Valley Saturday morning at the campground on the north side of the sand dunes. To get there from Los Angeles take U.S. 395 north to the town of Big Pine. Turn right (East) on State Route 168 heading for Westgard Pass. In 2.2 miles turn right on the paved Death Valley Road. It is signed to Death Valley. Follow this paved road East for 28 miles over the Inyo Mountains and into Eureka Valley where the pavement ends. In another 10 miles turn right on the signed South Eureka Valley Road. This is a good graded dirt road. Follow the South Eureka Valley Road for 11 miles to the Eureka Valley Sand Dunes and the campground. This is where we met. The road over the Inyo Mountains had just been plowed and the snow covered mountains looked beautiful in the light of the full moon as we drove in Friday night.
After meeting at the campground we drove about 1.25 miles east on the dirt road taking a left fork along the way and parked the cars. We started the climb from here. The route goes northwest about 2.5 miles up the highest alluvial fan in the valley to the mouth of a canyon at 4100 feet elevation. The canyon opens up once you are inside the mouth. Continue up the canyon about .4 miles to a three-way fork at 4500 feet elevation. Turn into the right most side canyon here. The side canyon heads south for a bit and then turns back northwest. Continue up the canyon for about .75 miles to elevation 5200 ft.
Here the canyon narrows. Go through the narrows and take the right most gully up to elevation 5675 ft. Look up canyon for a predominate rock pinnacle on the ridgeline above point 6390T and climb up to the ridgeline passing the pinnacle in route. Once on the ridge continue up the ridge northeast to the main ridge of the Last Chance Mountains at point 7019 T. Then head south to the summit.
We encountered snow at about 5900ft elevation on the way up to the rock pinnacle. The snow conditions were good and soon we were on the ridgeline were we got a great view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains beyond the Inyos. They were just covered with snow and looked magnificent in the morning light. Once on the peak Dave Boyle did a good job in locating the register and digging it out of the snow. We had lunch on the summit at 12:30. Stats for the climb were 4200 ft gain and 10 miles round trip. Hiking time for our group was 4.5 hours to the summit. 4 hours back to the car.
Saturday night we camped at the campground in Eureka Valley. We just couldn’t resist camping where there was a toilet. The campfire, potluck dinner and happy hour were great fun that night. Thanks to everyone for bring such good food. Special thanks to Audrey Goodman for bringing her guitar and sharing her musical talents with us.
Sunday morning we were up early and off to climb Last Chance Mountain form the south. The route we took starts a mining site at elevation 6400 ft. This would also make a good place to camp it is in a remote canyon.
To get to the mine site from the sand dunes take the South Eureka Valley Road back to the Death Valley Road and continue for about 5 miles east up the paved road into Hanging Rock Canyon to the site of the Crater Mine shown on the Death Valley Automobile Club Map. Turn left off the paved road at 5200 ft elevation on to a dirt road and drive .3 miles to the Carter Mine Site. (This dirt road is not shown on the Automobile Club Map). Take the left fork here and continue north up along the base of the mountains and follow the road left into a canyon at 6000 ft. the mining site is at the end of this canyon 2.7 miles from the paved road. You will see a mineshaft on your left as you reach the mining site. Park here.
From the mining site hike northwest up a road in the canyon. In about .6 of a mile leave the road and head up a small ridge that leads up to point 7853. Then follow the ridgeline over or around the bumps 7978, 8250, and 821 iT to the summit. We stayed on the top of the ridge and went over the bumps to avoid the deep snow. The snow level here was about 7853 ft. but there were deep soft spots where we sank in up to our knees. But we avoided most of the deep snow by staying on top of the ridge. Thanks to Ron Hudson for helping lead and kicking such good steps. The return trip was much more enjoyable thanks to the good steps we had made on the way over.
Stats for the climb were 2900 ft gain and 7 miles round trip. We started hiking at 8:30am from the mining site. Reached the summit at about noon. Returned to cars at 2:30pm first group 3:00pm last group back at cars. Thanks to everyone who joined us and made this a memorable trip. This was Dan Simons first Desert Peak Trip. Hope you will be joining us again, Dan.
Our group members were Dave & Elaine Baldwin, Ken Barr, Dave Boyle, Gary Craig, Janet Damen, Audrey Goodman, Ron Hudson, Patty Rambert, Dan Simon, Brian Smith, and Bob Thompson.
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