Mount Palmer, Grapevine Peak


By: Henry Heusinkveld


A chilling, blustery, clammy, windy climb gave lie to our buddies warning that by now it would be too hot to be climbing DV peaks. A week prior to the event the leader had cancelled the trio for lack of interest (only 2), but the wailers on the Heald Peak Big Event cajoled, wheedled and vowed that any self-respecting leader doesn't renege, but must follow thru no matter what.

Friday nite, on arriving in the Beatty region, Al Campbell with his 4WD riders sought out refuge from the cyclone winds at the old Rhyolite train depot (now a relic mahogany bar/cafe), and the 14 flopped sleeping bags on the south veranda under the massive roof. All slept soundly (except BettyD.) in spite of the banshee wind roaring, the owner's dogs persistent howling at our intrusion, and the gold miner ghosts of 1900's having to move over to make room for us.

Meanwhile, other baggers vied with us for equally imaginative camp sites. At precisely 7:00 AM eight autos with 19 innocents surged up to the Beatty Exchange Club (never closed) counted noses, signed in and sped out the desert trek towards roadhead. Nothing cheap about this expedition, the lead car, Al Campbell, and the sweep car, Howard Howell, were both 4WD and equipped with citizens band radio. Thus the caravan could handily control itself to the endurance limits of Detroit steel, picking up those who cried, "I quit". Wes Shelberg was beloved here for providing 4WD ferry service to Phinney saddle, and after the climb for assisting an oh-so stuck truck. After commuting events, the peak climbs seem almost incidental--but not really.

Palmer Peak, recent addition to the list, is soon highly visible and distinctive, and lures one into smug over-confidence. The leader had been well warned (Roy Ward) about the travails of side-hilling. But the bumps look so high, and the side-hilling not all that bad. But don't you believe it //// Mr. Side-hill Hendrik wore the patience of the followers very thin.

The final long knife edge, and the summit sprint turned out to be the most fun of all. Standing on the summit under dark leaden sky with lightning bolts shooting here and there made a few queasy, so we didn't linger at the register, but dropped 50' to a small meadow for overdue lunch. This repast ended abruptly by large cold rain drops spattering around.

The return trip seemed even more laborious then on the way up (the leader fell into a long side-hill trap). At the minor saddle the main party huddled behind bushy pine trees avoiding stinging sleet and cold wind, while those non-adept side-hill stragglers struggled, exhaling blue curses at the leader. Seems very funny now.

This point of low despair having passed, the weather and slopes gentled, so It was just another long side-hill slog to the cars, people emerging from the woods at various angles. PALMER: 19 participants, 18 made peak.

Sunday, Al Campbell and Wes Shelberg provided 4WD shuttle to Phinney saddle as before. Dick Akawie agreed to do leading honors to Grapevine Peak. The weather was windy and cold, but the hike easy, so friendship and joy overflowed. A relaxing time on the peak with time for clever (overworked imaginations) stories, and then back over the many bumps (twice as many as on the way out, and they all look alike) to the cars. GRAPEVINE: 16 participants, 16 made the peak.

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