Smith Mountain


By: Bob Greenawalt


A walloping good weekend, followed by too-many days of shut-in weather, brought 45 (!) eager climbers to the northeast slope of Smith Mountain for a late Saturday morning ascent. What a time to start a hike! The troops didn't' get underway until almost 11 o'clock! This was due to a slow auto caravan into Gold Valley, which required some minor road building before our arrival to climb. This part of the desert received more than its share of water too!

Smith presents an interesting Class 1 walk, and our route had about a 2,600-ft. gain. We were on top by 2 p.m., though we weren't sure which of the two summits were the higher. These high points are only three minütes apart, and we judged the easternmost one is the winner. The register is on it.

We were well-rewarded with fine crisp clear weather, and the climax of the hop was in finding a Desert Bighorn, several, hundred feet below us in a canyon. Upon seeing us, the animal began to scurry away, and all were afforded a fine view of an 'in-the-flesh' DPS emblem, as the sheep had a fine set of horns.

We were back at the cars by 4:15 and camp was made several miles inland at an old corral, whereby burning old ties and tires, we endured the below-freezing evening. The full moon enhanced the situation.

At 8 a.m. Sunday we left en masse and soon found ourselves over-looking the Valley at-Dante's View. A frigid wind prompted a change of plans, and in lieu of scheduled Coffin and Funeral Peaks, low Manly Beacon was chosen. We caravaned to the head of Golden Canyon from the Va1ley f1oor and began the easy lift over mud hills to Manly Beacon, that prominent fin one sees when looking westward from famous Zabriskie Point. Though a low spire, maybe 500 ft. gain, and about the same elevation, it presents a Class 3 situation and is enough to scare the pants off this writer. One loose 24-inch boulder was engineered to be put off in a side canyon for someone's future safety, and was successfully plunged.

The afternoon was Spent around the Valley floor, and some indulged in date milkshakes at Furnace Creek Ranch to round out the weekend.

May we have more climbs like Smith!!

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