Manly Peak, Needle Peak


By: Al Campbell



"No Camping" said the sign--so we moved down the road another hundred yards and pulled into the first wash to spread the bags. Even the meteor shower in sparkling clear skies proved unable to keep us awake long and we all drifted rapidly off. My dreams of sleeping between the main Penn Central rails assumed alarming reality as a rapidly increasing roar jolted me awake...a train?..a jet landing?...a clothes dryer full of bowling balls?...The near empty mine truck zoomed past on our road, bouncing rythmically along the washboard and roared off into the distance. Sleep returned, grudgingly, as I tried vainly to recall the equations relevant to the Doppler Effect. This tableau repeated itself at about thirty-minute intervals throughout the otherwise too short night.

The morrow found 10 DPS'ers (7 of whom had a better night) gathering at the roadhead. We caravanned to the Warm Springs Mine and left the one American car there before continuing through Butte Valley to Anvil Spring. The road seems much improved from that which I remember from several years ago..Someone suggested it had been improved during the hunt for Manson and family.

The climb went uneventfully with the group hitting the top just at lunchtime. During our lengthy stay we scanned the ridges on Needle Peak, looking for a good route for Sunday's climb. Satisfied with our findings, we returned to the cars sufficiently early for the peakbaggers (Fred Bode, Al Campbell, Mike Manchester and I) to make the 800 feet up Striped Butte in the last daylight. We were rewarded with 300 million year old fossils (Crinoids) in several bands near the top. In the valley, 25 other native jackasses watched, amused.

Willow Springs was our intended campsite, but since that proved to be occupied by three permanent miners, we availed ourselves of their hospitality in the wash just below their shack, where the cool winds seemed less hostile. Roy and Barbara Magnuson managed to find us about bedtime and joined the campfire gaiety while Barbara concocted Roy's favorite backpack delight, " gourmet sponge stew".....and so to sleep..amidst the burros and barking dogs.

Morning, and another arrival..Steve Smith and Bill Banks with two friends from Ridgecrest, to swell our group to 16, and we were off. We crossed a low ridge and dropped into a broad valley NW of the peak, followed a prominent wash to the ridge west of the peak, then threading our way over one false summit, emerged on Needle Peak for an early lunch.

The climb seems similar to Kofa, with red lava cliffs and steep slopes to scramble through. Oddly, of the 13 people that have finished the DPS list, 6 were on this trip, and 5 others were within 15 of finishing. Consensus was that Needle would make a good addition to the list; Needle was a better climb than Manly; and that it paired nicely with Manly for a weekend trip. Our return was uneventful, with half the group (in 4WD) heading through Mengel Pass and Goler Wash, while the rest returned the traditional route through Warm Spring Canyon.

Our final highlights remained with a truly spectacular sunset lighting our way to Baker for about 30 minutes, and an equally spectacular Chinese dinner at Barstow's "El Rancho" cafe.

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