Mormon Peak, Virgin Peak
By: George Hubbard
Having flown from Oakland Friday afternoon, I was met at LAX by Evelyn DeChantillon and we in turn met Vi Grasso with whom we carpooled some 350 miles to the Mormon roadhead. After sleeping for 5 hours (actually dozing - we were directly beneath a railroad trestle and the "Vampire Special" appeared each 2 hours until dawn, never to be seen again) we grudgingly responded to Doug's cheerful wakeup call at 6 AM. We didn't understand his mood until we found he'd flown in to Las Vegas at 3 PM the day before! The short day and the long, basically cross country climb called for our early start of 6:45 AM. None of the other potential participants having appeared, the 4 of us set out for the roadhead in Vi's Jimmy at 6:45 and after some searching and navigating, arrived at the Mormon roadhead at 8 AM. After Evelyn and I wolfed down our breakfast (Vi only had a banana!) we started hiking at 8:30. The climb begins at the end of a fair 4WD road at the 4,200 foot level noted by "prospect" on Rox NE 7.5" topo map. The climb proceeds up a wide gully in a southeasterly direction for approximately 1 mile to about 5,200 feet. At this point we attained a ridge and followed it east for a mile and then northeast about 2 miles to the 7,414 foot summit at 11:30 AM. There were some ups and downs, but the superb views of steep walled canyons and some low 3rd class rock scrambling made the peak worthy of list addition consideration. We therefore recommend that the management committee include this proposal on the 1991 DPS ballot. After a leisurely lunch and enjoying views of the entire Mormon range and over to Lake Mead and the Virgin Peak area, we descended in the same direction for 2 miles, but then decided cut off some distance by heading NW instead of W and then N. While this route afforded more intimate views of the surrounding cliffs and presented some route finding challenges it really didn't save time and is only recommended if there is ample time remaining. We arrived at the car at 4 PM and then proceeded to the Virgin roadhead. We arrived 6 PM at a scenic, sheltered area near Quail Point where we camped. Quail point is at the end of the paved road described in the DPS Climber's Guide. The quiet, moonless night provided a nice ambience for our campfire and the spirits and food that followed.
At 7 AM the next morning, we drove to the Virgin roadhead (actually the road continues beyond where we parked) and we continued on foot up the road to a point approximately 1-1/2 miles ESE of Virgin
Peak. We the worked our way up toward the peak to a point 800 feet below and due E of the summit. The route then involved enjoyable low 3rd class climbing all the way to the summit, where we arrived at 11 AM. There was some residual snow from a storm 2 days earlier and clear skies; the view of Lake Mead in its entirety was outstanding. After eating and signing in, we descended via the SE ridge as described in the DPS Climber's Guide and the dropped off the ridge to the east and returned to the car at 2 PM ready for our (except for Doug) long ride home. We arrived in LA at 10 PM, happy with our enjoyable, successful weekend.
DETAILED DRIVING INSTRUCTIONS TO MORMON ROADHEAD:
Leave Interstate 15 at the Nevada State Highway 168 exit approximately 48 miles NE of Las Vegas. Proceed under the Freeway and go N on Hwy 168 2.9 miles to a good gravel road. Turn right and proceed 14.1 miles to the aforementioned steel trestle. Proceed an additional 4.7 miles to a 10' by 10' white shed on the left by the railroad tracks denoted by black letters "CPC402". At the 2nd opportunity, make a right turn off the main gravel road at 0.4 miles beyond the shed. Proceed up this secondary road 0.3 miles to a BLM Wilderness sign (actually a 3 inch wide strip in the ground). Continue straight up the wash (DO NOT turn right along the road over a small ridge) for 1.1 miles; keep to the left here, continuing up the wash an additional 0.7 mile; again take the left branch. At 0.4 miles beyond this point, at elevation 2,650 feet, the road leaves the wash to the right and starts ascending a hill. After leaving the wash, follow the road 4.8 miles to the roadhead at elevation 4,200 feet.
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