Sentinel Peak, Nelson Range


By: Roy Magnuson


Nine climbers met in Ballarat at 7:00 a.m. Saturday and caravaned to Chris Wick's Camp where we consolidated into four cars: Three VW bugs and an International Scout. American type passenger cars are definitely not advisable beyond this point. The leaders had previously scouted the road up Surprise Canyon to the half-way point in order to determine if the trip would be feasible. The "surprise" came beyond this half-way point, in the form of a steep section covered with loose rock. Note: If you're in a VW and are not going top speed (in low gear) at the bottom of this section you won't make it past the upper end. (Also, if you are in a Scout, stop in the middle, and then try to proceed in what you think is four-wheel drive, but isn't, you won't make it.) After some confusion and further consolidation, we drove up to Panamint City about one-half mile past the Smelter. We walked up Magazine Canyon and then scrambled up to the east ridge, which we followed to the peak. On descending we followed the ridge all the way to the road and found it to be the most satisfactory route. The weather was excellent and fine; summit views were enjoyed by all.

Five people departed after the Sentinel climb leaving a group of four to make the assault to Nelson the next day. We camped in a wash to the southwest of the peak and drove to the upper mine in the morning. Then, having conquered the peak we decided to try Pleasant Mountain. The three VW's drove up the east side of the Inyos toward Cerro Gordo Mine and encountered snow patches across the road. After repeated runs, plus some shovel and ice ax work, we got through the first snow patch. Then Dick Akawie proved that, in this situation, by using tire chains you get into even more trouble than you could without them. With some effort and determination he managed to bring his car to rest in a snow patch with both rear wheels off the ground. After digging the car out we decided we had had enough exercise for the day, so we headed for home.

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