Nelson Range, Coso Peak


By: John Robinson


Few things in this world can surpass the high desert in beauty after heavy snows have hit the loftier summits. The 18 Desert Peakers and guests who turned out to thoroughly enjoy this warm weather view-inspiring weekend trip will readily testify to this.

Nine of the group arrived a Lee Flats early enough Saturday afternoon to enjoy a leisurely stroll up nearby Nelson Mountain, An hour and a half got all nine to the top to witness superb views of the surprisingly rugged east face of the Inyos, the snow-plastured Panamints, and below us, the vast alkali wastes of little visited Saline Valley. The fortunate nine were leader Walt Wheelock, assistant John Robinson, Charles Gail, Tom Ross, Dorothy Cutler, Paul Nelson, John Mason, R.S. Rice, and Earl May.

The group grew to 14 for the pleasant campfire get-together amid the numerous Joshua Trees of Lee Flat that evening. Several worn out tires insured warmth for everyone.

Two more cars joined the group Saturday morning for the more lengthy ascent of Coso Mountain. Driving over rough desert road to Centenial Flats, the party set out afoot across the desert floor to the entrance of a steep canyon that enters the Cosos from the east. Not far up-canyon snow was met, and the group hiked in this snow all the way to the summit. 15 made the top to enjoy wonderful panoramas of the snow-swamped Sierra crest to the north-west, the snow-sprinkled Inyos to the north, and the snow-dusted Argus Range to the east. Looming beyond the Aruses stood lofty Telescope peak glimmering a brilliant white under the warm sun. Joining the climbers for lunch on the summit were literally thousands of lady bugs. What they were doing up there none of us knew.

The 15 on Coso's summit were Harry and Siina Melts, Bud and Bep Bingham, Charles Gail, Andy Smatko, Lothar Kolbig, Paul Nelson, John Mason, Tom Ross, R.S. Rice, Earl May, Ed Ostrenga, Dorothy Cutler, and John Robinson.

Charles Gail earned his sixth desert peak to qualify for membership on the trip, while Andy Smatko climbed his 53rd of our 54 qualifying summits.

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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