Charleston Peak, Mummy Mountain


By: Bob Michael


With certain misgivings, we stopped at 1 AM on Vegas' west edge to bag some ZZZ's, Misgivings were fulfilled as the stifling desert warmth didn't make for an especially sound sleep. Next morning, on the other hand, we restaurant-fed ourselves, thus sparing the nuisance of priming up the Primus.

A frantic dash from Jamaica Inn to McWilliams campground in Lee Canyon brought us there in good time-only 10 minutes late. Lateness didn't matter as the leader was still asleep. This provided a nice handicap for us during the day. Promptly at 8:30, eight stalwart DPSers left the ski lift at 8515' for Charleston, 11,918. After a few hundred feet gain it was pretty clear that the long drive from LA had adversely affected one member, and two returned to camp. Following up the stream that passes the ski lift bldg, we turned south into a prominent, moderate snow chute which led to the Lee-Kyle Canyons divide at 10,800', at which point the north loop trail from Kyle Canyon was intercepted. This trail fell full of snow about a mile farther, and Leader Arky Erb proceeded up the east face of the N ridge of Charleston. The climb was extreme class 3 in short pitches. Having attained the summit ridge, it was a moderately good snow climb to the top in a bit under 4 hours. We found a register left by Gene Gail in '63. A leisurely 2-hr stay atop provided commanding views, and the morning dust haze had lifted displaying the Avawatz, Kingston, Panamint, Clark, and Nopah Ranges. Another remarkable sight was two figures proceeding up the peak from the south with Keltys. They tuned out to be two college-agers from Vegas-Terry Dunbar & Lance Nielsen. They showed great interest when told of DPS activities and reported on the Las Vegas Group of the Toiyabe Chapter. We returned approximately the same way with a slightly different route down the north ridge of the summit. At 11,300' we noted an area of dart gray limestone with small seashells, some of them in states of preservation that one could imagine little beasties still living inside. They were brachiopod shells, cousins of today's mollusks. I would believe them to be of Carboniferous time, about 3 million yrs. old. I wonder if I'll look that good in 300,001,965 A.D.?

As soup was cooking(beware-no wood) that night and it was still light. Some malicious soul brought out his collection of MAD magazines. Conversation then began lacking for an hour or two.

Next day, promptly at the agreed-on hour of 6:30, all were asleep and later a belated alarm was sounded. Mummy was next!

After breakfast we caravaned over to a locked gate on the Deer Creek Spring road at about 8400'. Seven climbers started up the stream a short way and headed up the ridge marked on the topo with peak 9245'. Intersecting two bands of cliffs, we traversed a short distance to the left of the first one up an easy 3rd class chute. Thence a timbered slope was followed 'til a canyon coming in from the east was met. The ridge of this divide was followed 'til it met the second of the cliffs. At that point, a way may be found along a second class ledge for about 5O' where a short third class pitch is met. Here a traverse was made to a moderate snow chute which shows prominently on the ridge. It is then a simple stroll to the 11,530'summit on the Mummy.

Skyscraper hotels could be seen in Vegas as small black dots on a greenish carpet. On our way back, we turned to the right just below the top band of cliffs and made a long drop into Deer Creek Canyon down a timbered slope-much easier than the way we had come up. The trip was closed with a reunion of all participants at the Baker Inn for dinner. Hikers for this event were Arky and Ruth Erb, Claude Karami, Vic Miller, John Castel, Gordon MacLeod, Neko Colevins, and Bob Michael.

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