Virgin Peak, Moapa Peak, Mormon Peak


By: Gordon McLeod


After a windy, threatening Friday night, ten of us met Saturday morning in Glendale, Nevada, about 50 miles NE of Las Vegas. Because of the prospect of rain, it was decided to climb Virgin Pk on Saturday, rather than the more technical Moapa Pk. The route was essentially that described by Wes Shelberg in the Desert Sage. We drove NE on Interstate 15 to the Riverside exit, crossed the Virgin River, turned SW on the New Gold Butte Rd for 21+ miles to the end of the pavement at the road junction just W of Whitney Pocket in Section 23 at the bottom of the Virgin Pk 15' topo map. We then drove E for 21/2 miles to the junction in Section 19 and N just a little past the junction in Section 18 The group piled into Elliot Snyder's 4-wheel drive van, which took us slowly up the road almost to the N end of Section 6. During this ride it started to rain. It required strong mental discipline to get out of the van and to start hiking along the road. We had gone about 1 mile N when we stopped for reconsideration. Barbara Magnuson decided to go back to the van, and the rest of us continued on. It soon stopped raining, even though Jerry Keating was still with us; has Jerry passed the rain mantle on to Barbara? We left the road at about 6100' and climbed W through some brush to the ridge, where we stopped for lunch. Then it was essentially up the ridge to the top of the peak, where we had wonderful views - of one another. The visibility was about 100' in all directions, but we knew what was out there, thanks to Wes' article. On the way back we stayed on the ridge a little longer, but eventually left it to go back to the road and then to the van. Clouds began to lift as we drove to the other cars and then back to Glendale. After dinner in the restaurant in Glendale, we drove through occasional showers to our camp for the night. From the E entrance from Glendale to Int 15, we drove 61/2 miles NE to exit 100 (Elgin, Carp), under the freeway to the N side, right on the pavement for about 50 yards, then left (N) on a dirt road. This is the road which appears at the Corral on the bottom edge of the Moapa Pk 71/2' topo map. It is 8.7 miles from the pavement to the end of the road at the turnaround at 3120'+ S of Jacks Pockets. Driving in the dark we didn't make it; after about 5.7 miles we got to the junction at 2572' and took the left fork instead of the right fork and ended up just below Sheep Cyn Reservoir. In the morning we drove to the correct roadhead.

From the roadhead, it is a good idea to look at the mountain - very impressive - to get an idea of the route. The route that we followed was essentially that described by Andy Smatko in the Desert Sage. Eight of us (two stayed behind) took the jeep road through the gap. The wash leads around Bump 4542 to the saddle at 4440'+; there is a waterfall in the canyon which can be passed on either side. From the saddle we went up (by a route which we ducked) to the ridge at 5l60'+, SW of the peak. Then we went NE to a shelf alongside a cliff, along the shelf till the cliff ended, and up to the ridge at 6320'+, NE of the peak. From there we followed the narrow ridge (3rd class) to the peak. This time we had good views all around, including Virgin Pk to the SE. After lunch we went back along the narrow ridge, then SW along a shelf by a cliff above the one we had taken on the way up. Unfortunately, this shelf ended without a route down the cliff below, so we retraced our path and came down the same shelf we had taken up.

The group drove back to Glendale, and six left for home. That left four to climb Mormon Pk on Monday. We tried to follow Wes Shelberg's driving instructions, but had some difficulty in the dark. We took Hwy 7 out of Glendale to the side road along the Union Pacific RR tracks. After 11.0 miles the road turned under the RR to the W side of the tracks. At 14.5 miles the road was completely under water; in the dark we hesitated to go through, so we turned back to a campsite at 13.3 miles. It was very pleasant that night, except for the five freight trains that thundered by. The next morning the four of us, in Elliot Snyder's van once more, drove through the water, which was only 8 inches deep, under the RR bridge at 14.8 miles, and up to the borrow pit at 19.4 miles. The side road up the wash to the E went as Wes described it; we stopped at 6.1 miles from the main road, about a quarter mile short of his stopping point. We followed Wes' climbing route to the peak, but deviated from it on the way back to avoid some of the ups and downs along the ridge. From the peak we followed the ridge WSW, over 6211' to the second saddle at 5680'+, contoured around to the ridge going NW, followed it to the saddle at 5560'+, then to the ridge running parallel to and N of the intermittent stream shown on the topo (Rox NE 71/2'). When we approached the cliff around 5000' we saw three bighorn sheep. By dropping down on the N side of the ridge we were able to pass the cliff, and then we went along the ridge back to the van. We started hiking at 10 am, reached the peak at 2:30 pm, and were back at the van at about 5:15 pm. From there we drove back the way we had come. It was a good trip, with three nice peaks, and the weather was good after the first day.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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