Sadies Nipple, Mollies Nipple, Ferns Nipple, Nellies Nipple, Desert Princess Nipple, The Nipple, VABM Nipple, Nipple Butte, Black Tit, Brassiere Hills, West Cup, East Cup


By: Wes Shelberg


1. Prologue. A previous Desert Sage (#190, May/July, 1987) described climbs of Nellies Nipple and The Nipple. The present communication describes climbs of other cone-like formations that surveyors and topographers have named as a "Nipple" and that I have identified by searching over 3,100 topographic maps and quadrangles covering parts of Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. Invariably, cartographers omit the apostrophe designating possessive case, e.g., Nellies Nipple.

2. Sadies Nipple. Explored 10 Oct 87. Sadies Nipple is named as such on the: * Boulder Town Quad (Utah, 7. 5-Min, 1964, Coordinates 638964). * US Forest Service Visitors Map, Dixie National Forest (Powell, Escalante and Teasdale Ranger Districts), 1982. Map Coordinates I-4.

Sadies Nipple is highly visible from certain vantage points around Boulder, Utah and aptly named, being a steep cone sitting on the very end of a serrated, narrow ridge. Three sides of the cone plunge precipitously to the bottom of the ridge (about 280-ft of elevation below the cones vertex) while the fourth climbable side descends steeply to a short ridge-top saddle (about 80-ft of elevation below the vertex) that also connects to a nondescript, flat-top peaklet about as high as the cone. The cone and supporting ridge are cross-bedded sandstone having a white/yellow hue, except that the cone's top perhaps 50-ft is somewhat darker. A typically colorful Southern Utah landscape was seen from Sadies Nipple's summit (i.e., from about 5-ft below the scanty summit area which seemed too weathered for safe climbing in view of the horrendous exposure on three sides). Views included a vast wilderness of white/ yellow, cross-bedded sandstone with blotches of red (a region of bare undulating stone and high, vertically- walled monoliths); forests of pine, pinyon, juniper and manzanita: the enormous and forested Boulder Mountain to the north from which volcanic boulders have been transported by water over the country surrounding Sadies Nipple; and Mt. Ellen and Millers in the Henry Mountains to the east.

To climb Sadies Nipple, proceed to Boulder, Utah (Boulder Town on the topo map) and park at the Rodeo Grounds at the north end of town on State Route 12 (at the national forest boundary). Mike directly east cross-country to the snout of the Sadies Nipple ridge, proceed along the east side of that ridge (along the stream for a short distance) and climb to the saddle between that ridge and the circular hill with the printed hill elevation of 6671-ft (saddle coordinates: 640966), climb the cross-bedded sandstone to the short saddle between Sadies Nipple and its neighbor peaklet, and then climb the Nipple from that upper saddle.

Note: The road shown on the topo map that proceeds east from Boulder Town and turns into an alleged "jeep trail" that crosses the desired saddle at coordinates 640966 has been blocked off to vehicle/foot traffic. The "jeep trail" is in reality the original wagon trail pioneers used to access the region. Vehicle denial will serve its preservation.

3. Mollies Nipple. Explored 15 Oct 87. Mollies Nipple is:

* Named as such (and also as Moll) on the Deer Range Point Quad (Utah, 7.5-Min, 1966 (1978 Revision), Coordinates 065252) .Topo gives 7271-ft.

* Given as elevation 7268-ft (but not named) on the "Southwestern Utah Nap" (map section D-4). This is published by the Utah Travel Council, Council Mall, Capitol Mill, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112 and is available at the BLM Office in Kanab, Utah. This map shows land ownership/ administration and back-country roads, but not all vehicle tracks/trails show on the map so it must be used cautiously in some areas.

Mollies Nipple is a red/yellow sandstone cone rising about 700-ft above its base on elevated land and resembles an impressive shark's tooth when seen from a few miles away on the 4WD trail that accesses its base. One can see "forever" from its summit region: vast plateaus ending with red/yellow cliffs; Navajo Mountain the Coxcomb Formation; delicate orange sculpture far to the north (probably Bryce Canyon or the end of Table Cliff Plateau); and extensive forest of pinyon, juniper, small oaks and manzanita. The country seemed more colorful in the morning, but in the late afternoon a favorite phenomenon occurred in the west for viewing from Mollies Nipple: a succession of silhouettes of vast plateaus ending in vertical cliffs, looking as if they had been cut from different shades of dark cardboard and then stacked successively one behind another.

To approach Mollies Nipple, proceed east from the junction of US HWY 89 and ALT US HWY 89 in Kanab, Utah. Drive HWY 89 for about 28.7 miles from that junction to Milepost Sign 37 where a good dirt road starts north. (Note: Look for an impressive view of Mollies Nipple as you top a rise just east of Milepost Sign 44 on HWY 89 (the milepost numbers get smaller as you go east)). Proceed north on the dirt road for about 10.3 miles to a dirt road junction with a BLM sign directing back to HWY 89 and to Parker Wash. Ignore Parker Wash road and continue on the right segment for about 1.3 miles to a jeep trail intersection. There are a couple of close, lone, prominent rocks SE of the road at this trail intersection one of which reminded me of a large ellipsoid maybe 15 feet high. Proceed to the right (SE) on the jeep trail for about 5.3 miles to the wide, shallow saddle (about 6600-ft elevation) joining the southwest side of Mollies Nipple. The jeep trail comprises one set of vehicle tracks and is easily passable and scenic, but 4WD is essential due to sand.

Climb Mollies Nipple directly from the aforementioned jeep saddle connected to its SW face. I reached a good viewing spot about 20-vertical and 100-horizontal feet from the highest point. Had I a companion and possibly a belay I would have continued the remaining short distance. Recalling that good-ol Country-Western: Mothers, don't raise your babies to be cowboys or solo climbers. Or maybe: There are old climbers and there are bold climbers, but no old-bold climbers.

4. Ferns Nipple. Explored 12 Oct 87. Ferns Nipple is named as such on the:

* Notom Quad (Utah, 15-min, 1952 (minor corrections 1972), Coordinates 814330).

* US Forest Service Visitors Map, Dixie National Forest (Powell, Escalante and Teasdale Ranger Districts), 1982. Map Section K-l.

* Capitol Reef Trails Sheet (Available at Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center).

I was enamoured with Ferns Nipple at first sight. It is a cone of white/yellow cross-bedded Navajo sandstone rising 267-ft from the crest of the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park. It sits an awesome 1500-ft above the junction of the Scenic Drive and Capitol Gorge Roads south of the Visitors Center, and is visible from many locations, e.g., on the Scenic Drive just north of Capitol Gorge and when approaching the Park from Torrey on Hwy 24. There are spectacular views from the Waterpocket Fold's crest at the base of Ferns Nipple: Navajo sandstone canyons/monoliths with pines in the immediate vicinity; the reddish, west-facing Waterpocket escarpment curving westward to pass "unendingly" north of Torrey; extensive/high Boulder and Thousand Lake Mts to the west and NW; Mts. Ellen and Pennell in the Henry Mts. to the east; and the San Rafael Reef far off to the NW. Looking SW from the top of the crest at rock pillars in the entrada at Quad Coordinates 812321, one visualizes "The People" of Indian legend, that assemblage of shroud-like figures, visualized so often in Canyonlands, marching eternally in lockstep to higher ground to escape the flood.

To climb Ferns Nipple, park at the end of the road in Capitol Gorge (the road no longer goes all the way through the gorge as shown on the map). At the lot, take the excellent Golden Throne Trail (not printed on the topo) to the Throne Viewpoint marked by a cairn which is considered Trail's End. Viewpoint coordinates, elevation and approximate distance are 836294, 6200-ft (altimeter) and aproxiaate1y two miles, respectively. From the viewpoint, continue along its level 6200-ft ledge (via a faint path) for about 0.6-mile at which point the bottom of the awesome canyon on your left rises to meet the ledge and you can simply walk across (Crossing Coordinates approx. 832304). From the crossing, go southwest cross-country about 0.6-mile to the Waterpocket Fold escarpment-edge at Coordinates 826298, elevation 6480-ft; this is where the major drainage (shown on the Quad) of the extensive plateau west of VABM George plunges over the escarpment, and where you can look down and see a section of the Scenic Drive way below. From here, simply transit (about 20-degree West) the plateau cross-count about two miles to Ferns Nipple. About 0.15 mile south of Ferns Nipple there is a Navajo Sandstone "ellipsoid" peaklet marked on the Quad by an "elliptical" 6800-ft contour; approach it directly via the plateau, pass right next to it on the east side, and when just past scramble up to the base supporting Ferns Nipple. The round trip is a relatively easy, approximate 10-miles.

The Park Rangers say that Ferns Nipple (which they have accessed by routes shorter but more difficult than mine) can be climbed most easily from the west or northwest side, with the last 50-ft at the top being the most weathered and dangerous. I had no chance to inspect these sides because the approach of fast-moving weather on the horizon made me anxious to return to the car. But at least it was easy to climb up the first 1/3 of the Nipple on the south side before the slope became impossible. Almost certainly I won't climb to the top of Ferns Nipple on any side. The exposure reminds me of that at the top of South Guardian Angel, and I have bad visions of hanging onto the Nipple's cross-bedding by the finger nails.

5. Nellies Nipple. See Desert Sage #190, May/July,1987. Loraine Quad (Ca. 7.5 min, 1972).

6. Desert Princess Nipple (i.e., The Thimble). If ever a graceful cone truly belongs to the genre "Nipple" it is "The Thimble" in Anza- Borrego State Park near Ranchita, CA. The Thimble deserves to be in a scholarly article such as this one on nipple-cones, and merits the attention of all nipple climbers. Climbed with Jack Grams 19 Nov 83, and later. Barbara Raab's name was on top (date ?), and a few others have climbed it.

The Thimble is named on the Tubb Canyon Quad (CA, 7.5-Min. 1959, Coordinates 469786). It consists of massive gray granite, rises steeply about 600-ft above its high-elevation base, and is easily recognizable from many far-off vantage points in its region of San Diego County (e.g., from viewpoints on the northern part of the Sunrise HEW in the Laguna Pits. Among places seen from the top are San Ysidro Mtn and Ridge, Pinyon Ridge, Whale Peak, Granite Peak, Santa Rosa Mtns, Coyote Mtn, Carrizo Mtn, and the Laguna Mtns.

As a persistent fantasy, undoubtedly rooted in visiting all the nipple-cones described herein plus an occasional sunstroke, my daydreams visualize The Thimble as a nipple, specifically as the "DESERT PRINCESS NIPPLE" IN HONOR OF THEM DESERT PEAKS SECTION. Sunstroke? Hors de Combat? Well, as precedents the U.S. Geological Survey visualizes Squaw Tit on the 1933 Turret Peak Quad (AZ, 30-Min) as Squaw Butte on the 1967 Verde Hot Springs Quad (AZ, 7.5-Min): the Mexicans (with DPS acquiescence I might add) visualize Picacho Del Diablo as Cerro de la Encantada; and the AAA with unconscionable audacity visualizes VABM Nub on the Halloran Spring Quad (CA, 15Min) as Club Peak on its San Bernardino County Map.

Though disclosed, the fantasy remains and no one, yes nobody including the DPS can take that away from me.

To climb Desert Princess Nipple, park where HWY 5-22 enters Anza-Borrego State Park near Ranchita, CA. Follow the decrepit fence, marking the Park's boundary, north to the east side of chimney Rock. Continue north (picking up the fence again in 0.25 mile) to the 4920-ft contour (Coordinates 475769). (Vehicle tracks seen on private property to the west lead temptingly toward the Nipple, but we are probably not welcome on them). Avoid the tracks and, in order to avoid troublesome boulders and brush known to exist starting about 0.25 mile ahead due north, climb to 5200-ft on the south end of the ridge supporting Peak-5326 and contour around the east side of that peak to the north side of the saddle at elevation 5160-ft (Coordinates 476776). Descend the northwest drainage and proceed to the little saddle (Coordinates 469784) extending south immediately from the Nipple's base. Climb the south side gaining 320-ft of elevation by altimeter. Then "contour" easily around to the west side, in the process gaining shout another 60-ft of elevation and going through or by a picturesque "cave". The remaining elevation to the summit is easily climbed on the west side just past the cave. A few have climbed Desert Princess Nipple from Culp Valley which increases elevation gain somewhat. TO HPS: nearby San Ysidro car be climbed easily from Desert Princess Nipple's vicinity.

7. The Nipple. See Desert Sage #190, May/July, 1987. See Carson Pass Quad (CA, 7.5-Min, 1979).

8. VABM Nipple and Nipple Butte. Explored 16 Oct 87. Concerning Maps:

* Both are named as such on the Nipple Butte Quad (Utah, 7.5-Min). Coordinates 425176 and 425160, and elevations 5879 and 52l0-ft, respectively.

* Nipple Butte is named on the Nipple Butte Quad (Utah, 15-Min, 1953). Elevation 5222-ft. Good topography but current roads/towns not shown.

* Summary of pertinent roads is given by "Southwestern Utah Map" (Map Section D-

5). For map, see item 3 above. VABM Nipple, ironically, is not a nipple formation at all, out simply a VABM at the surface and edge of a flat, level, high and isolated mesa. Nevertheless, accessing it could be a challenge since the mesa is capped with an 80+ft layer of red sandstone whose circumscribing vertical wall seems unclimbable except possibly at an apparent breach on the north side (see topos). This was viewed from afar without binoculars from the jeep road that goes past Tibbet Spring (see "Southwestern Utah Map" or Tibbet Bench Quad (Utah, 7.5min), but the afternoon sun subdued all details and I couldn't decide climability at the apparent breach area. VABM Nipple merits a revisit as a good adventure. Helicopter access would be ideal.

Nipple Butte is a steep, highly-weathered, isolated cone rising 210 ft above a highland. Seen close-up from the south side, it rises successively as these layers: steep soil (base layer); vertical yellow sandstone; steep gray soil: and vertical, yellow, crumbly sandstone (capstone layer). Seen from vantage points a mile or more away to the east, the top two layers form an aptly-named nipple that sits on a pedestal-of the bottom two. Expansive views from the Nipple include: the high mesa supporting VASM Nipple, Navajo Pith to the east, the expansive flat Nipple Bench, and Nipple Creek's long canyon proceeding south.

Nipple Butte was approached starting at Big Water City, Utah. 4WD is necessary no matter what route you take since the jeep roads follow stream beds at places and there may be mud. The shorter direct jeep-route up Lone Rock Canyon (Nipple Creek) was not attempted because the "Southwestern Utah Map" indicated an alternate graded or gravel (but longer) route to the Nipple area. A laugh since the road turned out to be a jeep road anyway in Tibbet Canyon including some benign mud. But just as good since the alternate passed superb, colorful cliffs in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and in Tibbet Canyon. Starting at the junction of US HWY 89 and the road leading into Big Water City:

* Take the graded road east (posted immediately north of HWY 89 for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area) for about 13.2 miles to a road junction in the GCNRA. Turn left.

* Take the generally-northward trending read for shout 3.7 miles to another road junction (i.e., the Smokey Hollow Road Junction not identified because the sign was partly destroyed). Turn left.

* Drive to the edge of the nearby, wide, shallow stream bed cross it at right angle (even though it looks like the graded road ends at the edge and you can't see the jeep road on the other side) pick up the jeep road immediately after crossing, and follow it generally northwestward through Tibbet Canyon for about 7.4 miles to the junction with the jeep road that goes to the right and passes Tibbet Spring. Continue left.

* Drive about 2.3 miles to Nipple Butte.

To Climb Nipple Butte, first scramble up the south side easily to the top of its second layer (a platform). Then climb to the top of the obstinate but beautiful earth slope by kicking steps (probably best from the north side). Then climb the weathered capstone (10-15ft?) where its east side is somewhat breached and slanting (dangerous and best done with a companion). There is a rock cairn on top.

9. Black Tit. On a recent visit in Yakutat, Alaska I was amiss in not exploring the possibility of making a visit to or fly-by of the nunatak "Black Tit" in the huge ice field east of Russell Fiord. Will correct this abysmal oversight soon. Its attainment would supplement the recent Desert Sage Communication on the genre (#190, May/July, 1917). Black Tit is named as such on the Yakutat (C-3) Quad (Alaska, 15/22.5, 1959), and also on the Yakutat, Alaska-Canada Topo (1:250000-Scale), 1959, revised 1982.

10. Brassiere Hills. West-Cup (2405-ft) climbed by descending. Helicopter landing 8 July 87.

Helo-climbing this bust-contoured, provocatively-named, spectacularly-located formation during a recent Alaska trip was as rewarding as any other major trip- event such as kayaking close to the front of Hubbard Glacier in Russell Fiord, visiting both arms of Glacier Bay, and a helicopter flight (not the Brassiere Hills one) directly over the awesome Juneau Ice Field to land near the Canada border on the upper reaches of the 20 mile long Gilkey Glacier. The provocative but apt name compelled my climbing by descending and the name and setting merit treatment in a scholarly communication of the kind in hand. To keep a desert flavor, think of the Juneau Ice Yield locale as a "desert" of jagged peaks surrounded by ice and snow instead of sand.

The Brassiere Pills are covered on two USGS 1:250000-Scale Topos or by two 15/20-Min Quadrangles:

* Juneau, Alaska-Canada Topo(l:250000-Scale), 1962 Revised 1985.

* Taku River, Alaska-Canada Topo(l:250000 -Scale), 1960.

* Juneau (B-1)Quad (Alaska, 15-Min(lat)/20-Min(lon) 1948 Revised 1971, West-Cup Coordinates 560803).

* Taku River (B-6)Quad (Alaska, l5-Min(lat)/20- Min(lon), 1951. Revised 1971, Coordinates of the east end of the supporting massive: 587809). The first and third of these topos name the Brassiere Hills as such.

The Brassiere Hills (comprising two massive, barren, circular hills separated by a narrow saddle, occupy the entire top of a huge, east-west, steep-sided ridge. Zipper Creek starts just under the saddle's south side and plunges 1100-ft to the Taku Glacier. Zipper Creek is shown on the third topo above. The hills and ridge together suggest the form of a short dumbbell. The ridge's base has dimensions of roughly 3.5 X 1.2-2 miles and its east end is washed by the wide Taku River (practically at sea-level). The mighty, wide Taku Glacier (originating in the 1500 square-mile Juneau Ice Field) descends from the north in this area, first abuts the ridge's west end at 1500-ft elevation, and then continues to abut the ridge's entire west end and south side as it curves around and descends to terminate at the Taku River. The wide Hole-in-the Wall Glacier separates from the Taku Glacier at 1500-ft elevation as an eastward spur and abuts the ridge's entire north side as it descends (including a great ice-fall with spectacular crevasses) to terminate at the Taku River. The ridge, of course, rises considerably above the glaciers. The saddle is at 1700+ft elevation (100-ft map contours) and only 0.1 mile wide. The Brassiere's West-cup (2405-ft) has a base diameter of roughly a mile at saddle elevation, rises about 705-ft above the saddle, and plunges steeply to the glaciers. The Brassiere's East Cup (2360-ft) has a base diameter of roughly a mile at saddle elevation, rises about 660-ft above the saddle, and plunges steeply to the glaciers and the Taku River. The Taku Glacier is advancing, and from the Brassier Hills you can see an area about two miles across it to the southwest where it is knocking down trees.

11. Epilogue. On my way back from Nipple Butte I paused Tonalea, Arizona to view the large, roadside formation aptly named "Elephant Feet", an old favorite. See roadmaps and Marble Canyon, AZ-UT Topo (1:250000-Scale), 1956 revision.

The experience made me reflect on how odd it is that elephants have toenails but no toes.

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