Avawatz Mountains, Pahrump Point


By: Roy Magnuson


There was some excitement Friday evening prior to the Avawatz climb when several eager climbers drove to the formerly deserted cabin at the Sheep Creek Springs roadhead to find it occupied by an edgy caretaker with a gun. The situation was mostly straightened out, with apologies and explanations, by the time the main caravan arrived in the morning. Some of us were even allowed to see the other occupant of the cabin, a small spotted skunk dubbed Richard Milhouse. I would recommend that future parties approach this area in the daylight, although the Avawatz Mining Company does not, apparently, object to our parking at the end of the road, which has been freshly graded. The party of 34 started for Avawatz at 8:45 after recording their names on a sign-up sheet. Five people signed out before the summit was finally sighted after 5-1/2 miles of canyon trekking. At the end of the broad canyon, where there is a choice 0f two steep gullies, I took the one branching left, which led into some unplanned rock climbing and technical dirt up to a point where a descent of 100 feet was required to reach the base of the summit ridge. This was borne without reproach from the group. The gully going straight ahead is the easier one and was taken coming down. The summit was reached at around 1:00 pm. The weather was fine and clear enough to be able to see not only snow-covered Charleston and Telescope, but also the southern Sierras and possibly San Gorgonio. Jack Bradford brought a bottle of wine to celebrate his emblem and, coincidentally, the recent marriage of the two leaders. On the descent, two of the climbers who had signed out were encountered nearing the peak. Roy, my able assistant, decided to wait for them with a small party while the rest proceeded out with me. Most of the group reached the cars at 5:00, with the last people arriving at 5:30 just as it was getting dark. Plans for Saturday evening had called for camping at the Sheep Creek roadhead, but discretion dictated that we go elsewhere. Various groups did their own things, with some sampling the sybaritic pleasures of a bath at Tecopa Hot Springs, others enjoying the refined delights of ballet at the Amargosa Opera House, and still others indulging in chess and intellectual conversation.

Sunday morning we regrouped at 7 o'clock in Shoshone and drove about 11 miles on Highway 178 to a dirt road leading to the base of Pahrump. We then took eight of the more rugged vehicles up the unmaintained road, which had a few sharp dips. The party was down to 25, as some had had other plans, some were nursing a sick car, and others had leg and foot problems. At one point on the climb I dispatched three of the better rock climbers to scout for an easy route (not found) up a rock wall while I ungratefully went off in another direction and found a way up a wash. From the roadhead, the peak can be seen as the bump farthest to the right on the summit ridge. The road leads into a wash which goes up about a mile to a fork with the summit ridge in view. The right hand branch leads up through a notch to the right below the peak. Above the notch it is an easy climb to the summit ridge, which may be taken to the left a short distance to the peak. There is some loose rock in the upper part of the wash and above. This route has a few ducks. At 11:30, 22 people made the summit, which has really sweeping views, made especially enjoyable by another clear day. On descending, one climber experienced foot problems and submitted to a much-photographed toenail clipping session. (It was rumored that Galliano is a specific for sore toes.) The cars were finally reached and the road negotiated without incident, all bodies accounted for.

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