By: John Vitz
Thanksgiving found us once again in the Death Valley area. And we were not alone. The scene at Scotty's Castle on Saturday was reminiscent of the Fourth in Yosemite Valley, but for the better part of two days, we were alone.
One of our objectives was Corkscrew. As we had an extra body with us to drive the car around, we decided to traverse the Corkscrew Ridge from the Titus Canyon Road to the Daylight Pass Road. It was cold and windy as we set out to climb the ridge near its north end. After gaining the top of the ridge, we followed it south to the peak. Corkscrew is only the fourth highest point on this ridge but it is certainly the most imposing from the south.
There are no records of any other ascents from the north. There is only about 2/3 of the gain on this route, but about one extra mile. Our leisurely walk was almost an hour less than the average times from the south. However, this would not be a superior route for a round trip as there would be an extra 1000 feet of gain on the return trip.
It was cold and clear on the summit and visibility was in excess of 100 miles. We descended by what appears to be the most popular route. It follows the bottom of the canyons east of the peak. This canyon has some rather impressive areas and would be worth the hike by itself.
Corkscrew, south. From just south of hole in the Tock Spring, go northwest across two shallow washes into the nice wash which runs along the east side of the peak. After about 2 miles the wash swings slightly eastward. At this point a left fork which is not readily apparent, continues due north. Continue for about a mile north crossing two small falls to where the canyon opens up to a certain extent. The summit is not visible from the canyon floor. Shortly after this the canyon closes in and becomes its most impressive.
In this area you will encounter, in rapid succession, a sharp west to north turn, a steep shallow gully on the west wall, a waterfall on the west wall where a tributary joins it and a steep scree slope on the west wall. There should be a prominent duck at this point. Climb this slope to the top of the ridge which forms the north wall of the tributary just passed. Do not drop into the tributary as there is another fall to be passed.
Continue along this ridge until a steep gully in yellowish rock comes up from the south. Traverse left across the top of the gully around a rock ridge, and onto the north wall of the tributary. Contour this wall to a point upstream from the falls. Continue upstream to the summit ridge, passing another fall on the right. Go south to the summit.
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