Nopah Range


By: Randy Bernard



It was Friday night Valentine's day, 1986. The heaviest rain fall of the 1ast thirty years was hitting Ca1ifornia but we drove through it to be with Dale Van Dalsem on this weekend of his finishing of the DPS list. Dale's first DPS peak was CERRO DE LA ENCANTADA (Big Picacho) climbed at Thanksgiving of 1977, the next week he climbed Rabbit Peak, he knew the desert had many cha1lenging peaks. He had made many friends as he first climbed with and then led them up most of the 93 peaks now or our list and they all wanted to be with him this week end. Saturday morning we arose after a night of rain to overcast sky with light wind. We started to drive up the dirt road but it had turned to mud, so we returned to the starting line at .6 mile from the pavement and hiked to Nopah peak (6394 ft.) from there. After arriving upon the first (and true) summit in cold wind and fog the group decided not to go for the second summit and hurried back to camp at 4 pm and went to Tecopa Hot Springs to clean up. Only one more to go. Sunday morning, February 16, 1986, the big day was here! At 7 AM we left camp. It was warmer and the sun was breaking thru the overcast sky, no wind, it was to be a beautiful day! at 8 we started up the wash to reach the top of Pahrump Peak (5740 ft.) at 10:20 am.

Dale had made it and the celebration began! The San Diego group started first by giving Dale a gift of a bandana with bird identification print, and a copy of John Muir's essays. Lew Amack carried up a stereo tape deck. The music began with; "CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN" followed by "To Dream the Impossible Dream" and "God Bless America", and to fit the week end "Raindrops Keep Failing On MY Head". Carolyn West read a poem by John Muir, then DPS list finisher Norm Rohn put on his tuxedo to present DALE his List Finisher Emblem (carried up by Carolyn West). A six foot banner read "HAPPY 93 DALE". Champagne was poured to all 23 persons on top. I (representing the DPS management committee) had the honor to make a toast to Dale: "For all the love that Dale had given us, we toast our love to Dale.

Dale thanked us for the celebration and asked for a moment of silence for those who should have been with him at this time of joy, especially his late wife Jackie & the late John Leonard.

The panorama was magnificent! To the west was snow covered Telescope Peak and on the east also snow covered was Charleston Peak and to the north (a hand level showed) the lower summit of Pahrump.

Dale then asked us to leave the peak so as to get to thc Hot Springs and then to the party.

Carolyn West brought a beautiful cake with the DFS emblem and " Happy 93 to" Dale on it (he didn't look that old) to add to the many items on the hors doeuvr's tables. That evening Our number's doubled as people from near and far came to help drink the champagne and get warm from the camaraderie of the camp fire.

I don't know what my son Glen or his friend Al Harmon did that Sunday but on the way home I looked upon the large dark hill above Death Valley High School in the little town of Shoshone, California and saw some neatly placed white rocks forming the big letters "DV" for Dale Vandalsem. And even today you can see those letters as our salute to Dale.

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

DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section