Sentinel Peak, Nelson Range


By: Joe McCosker


We met a mile north of Ballarat Saturday morning and caravaned to Chris Wicht Camp. There is no overnight camping and limited parking space at Chris Wicht Camp. The local Chris Wicht resident, George Novak, told us the road was not drivable without 4WD, which we did not have. But we decided to take a chance and all nine persons got in Joe's 2WD camper. In order to get better traction, six persons (three men and three women) rode on the double bed in back of the camper. The road to Panamint City was rutted and rocky but we made it and there were no complaints from the three couples in the back.

A small airstrip is under construction in Panamint City. We met a man who said he intends to build a smelter there and to land his Pipe Cub on the airstrip. Maybe next year we can fly to Panamint City!

Eight persons climbed Sentinel, starting up Frenchmans Canyon and ascending the ridge south of Frenchmans Canyon to the main ridge to the summit. In three hours everyone was on top enjoying tremendous views in all directions. We descended the first ridge north of Sentinel and took Magazine Canyon to the road which led us to our car in 2-1/4 hours.

Going down with nine people in the camper overloaded the brakes and we had to stop periodically to let the brakes cool off. At Limekiln Springs we had a flat tire. Thanks to a fast crew, especially Art Blauvelt and Chuck Stein, we made a quick tire change. The spare tire, being flat, did not fit securely under the truck so it was tied with light wire and as additional security Steve Powell ran behind the truck and watched the tire. We managed to get to Chris Wicht's without losing the tire or Steve. George Novak came out to greet us and was surprised to learn that we had driven all the way to Panamint City.

We caravaned from Chris Wicht's and eventually reached the intersection of Highway 190 and the Saline Valley Road. We drove north on the Saline Valley Road 4.7 miles, east 1.2 miles, north 2.3 miles to the I and took the right fork of the Y 1.5 miles. There, at the intersection with a dirt road going west was a huge, level parking area with room for at least 30 cars. We had a short but happy time at the campfire that night.

Sunday we were ready to drive to the Nelson road-head when we discovered that one of the cars was locked with the keys inside. Fortunately, "Fingers" Hicks was on the trip. Once Fingers got his hands on a coat hanger the car door was opened faster than anyone else could have opened it with a key. We had an easy climb of Nelson and caravaned to Olancha to meet for lunch, followed by a leisurely drive home. Thanks to Duane McRuer for a peerless job as Assistant Leader.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
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