Needle Peak, Manly Peak


By: Duane McRuer


Leaders: Duane McRuer & Bill T. Russell

After a stormy night 18 expectant participants came together at the Ashford Mill Ruins on Highway 178. Shortly after 7:30 am the 8 cars started the long trek over the 60+ miles of dirt roads we would have to cover to complete the weekend. After leaving the pavement the road west to the Butte Valley turnoff had been recently graded and was a high-speed delight. The turnoff to Butte Valley is marked as a jeep road, but as we demonstrated it is passable by American cars. This progresses through Warn Spring Canyon and turns southwest as Butte Valley is entered; it is the rockiest and roughest segment of the trip. After the magnificent Striped Butte comes into view the roads become more reasonable, at least by DPS standards. We continued to Anvil Spring and then turned east to Willow Spring, the road head for Needle, where adequate parking was available. On foot at last we started up a side road from Anvil Spring Canyon to a mine along a use trail, passing at the very start an old truck body heavily laden with the sign of feral burros. The route used proceeds south along the main wash, then up to the ridge near the approximate boundary of the Monument. The gullies are full of loose rock and so require caution with a large group. Seventeen of the party made Needle, while one lingered behind. For four of these this was a first DPS peak.

As there was plenty of time left in the day after returning to Willow Spring, with the help of Wes Shelberg and his Bronco we scouted several potential road heads for Manly. The roads to Greater View Spring and Russell Camp were passable by American cars, but the immediate surroundings of these places compared unfavorably with such posh DPS campsites as the Blue Diamond Dump outside of Las Vegas. The flat areas and parking were also very limited except at Russell Camp, which is unfortunately conspicuously posted with warnings and threats against trespass. Anvil Spring offered an attractive site, but the "geologist' s cabin" and the single cottonwood tree now appear to be part of a mining claim operated by people who were unenthusiastic about Sierra Clubbers. Not wanting to impose, we decided to camp on the very boundary of the Monument at the saddle between Butte Valley and Redlands Canyon. The evening was spent cowering about a wonderful campfire, courtesy of Ralph Garcia, avoiding the prospect of an early bedtime and the presence of a steadily decreasing temperature. The night was calm but cold, with a low of perhaps 15 deg F.

We started the climb of Manly shortly after 7 and reached it by midmorning. The route is directly along the ridge and slight precipitation from the storm on the previous Friday made the going through the sand somewhat easier. All 18 made the peak; for one this was a first desert peak and for four others a first on a short rock climb to reach the Class 3 summit block. The exhilaration of the scree runs down capped off a wonderful climb.

Going out we used a road going east toward the Butte Valley Road just south of Striped Butte, which is not shown on the topo. Again, this was passable, although one of the low points on the trip was the sight of a new Monarch with its differential securely mounted on a rock and rear wheels spinning freely. A dismount was accomplished with minimum delay and we reached the pavement without further major difficulty.

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