Jumbo Peak


By: Wes Shelberg


Jumbo is about 32-miles south of DPS' Virgin Peak, as the crow flies. Jumbo Peak is named on the Iceberg Canyon Quad (NV-AZ, 15-Min, 1953, Coordinates 542102 (read rt/up)), and on the AAA's combined San Bernardino County and Las Vegas Area Map, 6-89 Edition (cf., Las Vegas Area coordinates F-14).

Imagine a steep but easily climbable N/S ridge about a mile long, only about 900-ft high, and with its high point named Jumbo Peak located a trivial 0.8-mile westward from your vehicle parked in a small attractive valley called Cedar Basin (cf., topo). Further it is reminiscent of countless 1000-ft granitic boulder ridges in Southern California. Even so, you decide to climb Jumbo, as Jack Grass and I decided in 1982, since it is a named desert peak, since you are afflicted with fatal peak/register-placement fever, and since there is a remote possibility to get there before Gordon MacLeod and Barbara Lilley. As it turned out, Jumbo was found to be an impressive summit block inconspicuous from the vehicle and possibly of some interest to DPS rock-jocks. Jumbo is named right. Hence this communication.

The AAA map (June 1989 edition) shows the roads leading to its named Jumbo Pk and is both adequate and accurate. But interpret the printed mileage's carefully in the area of Gold Butte (Site). The non-paved part of New Gold Butte Road is occasionally graded, but 4WD is definitely needed between Gold Butte (Site) and Jumbo because of sand. From the Landing Field shown on the AAA map (coordinates F-14) proceed 2.3-miles south to elevation 4720-ft (topo, altimeter) for a good trailhead to Jumbo. Unlike the AM map, my 1953 version of the Iceberg Canyon Quad shows neither the Landing Field or the short spur road leading south in Cedar Basin to Jumbo.

BE SURE to visit the extraordinary geological phenomenon, the Devils Throat, just off the New Gold Butte Road; BLM signs direct the way. See the AAA map (coordinates D-14) and the Gold Butte Quad (NY-AZ, 15-Min, 1953, Coordinates 562346 (read ft/up)). The Devils Throat is a monstrous, very deep, vertically-sided hole whose geological origin is uncertain bit probably due to underground mineral solution. Look where you walk across the desert. The Devils Throat reminds one of the monstrous Gypsum Sinkhole of Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef National Park which is caused by underground mineral solution.

Leaving the vehicle at the 4720-ft contour on the jeep road ending near Jumbo, we climbed the ridge (Class 2) toward Jumbo as the topo and the spirit dictated, only to be stopped-dead an top at the south end at the 5660-ft elevation (altimeter) by a dark, coarse-granitic monolith 103-ft tall, vertically-walled on all sides, and about 200-ft wide (width a guess). The ridge top provides access to this summit block on three sides, bit not on the west since this side plunges vertically to the ridge top elevation and continues thus for perhaps another 500-600-ft before tapering-off. Viewing the dark block from its base, one is reminded of the height, volume and shape of the white Lost Valley Rock (4266-ft) which is so noticeable in McCain Valley of San Diego County and so well-known to DPSers driving the McCain Valley Road (cf., Sombrero Peak Quad (CA, 7.5-min, 1959, Coordinates 675238 (read rt/up)).


Only reaching Jumbo's summit-block base (through minimal/ scrub oak, pinyons, cedars (really junipers?), manzanita, agave, prickly-pear/hedgehog cactus, Nornon tea, etc.) is still rewarding because of:

* The summit block itself. With vertical walls, few cracks and some impressive overhangs, it seems intractable to climbing. There is no evidence of previous climbing. Risking presumption, I suspect that DPS technical climbers could find Jumbo an interesting challenge/threat/success/failure. Risking naivete, I suspect that Jumbo is one elephant that will sleep-on in perpetuity, never to be bagged by hardware and collared to a register.

The expansive views in all directions, e.g.:

* Overton Arm (blue Lake Mead). The entire long, relatively-narrow embayment is visible (looking N and NW), including its wide confluence with Virgin Basin's water (W).

* Virgin Basin (blue Lake Mead). This water and its narrow western outlet through Boulder Canyon are visible (WSW).

* Temple Basin (blue Lake Mead). This water, Temple Mesa and Temple Bar are visible (SW).

* Gregg Basin (blue Lake Mead). This water and Sandy Point peninsula are visible (SE). I remember Sandy Point as the last night out on a river trip from Lees Ferry.

* Virgin Mountains (N).

* Generally eastward: The impressive, vertical Grand Wash Cliffs along the entire horizon with the Colorado River's exit slit are visible. Also, Grand Wash, Hells Kitchen, reddish Million Hills, Wheeler Ridge, and the Indian Hills/Iceberg-Ridge which between then sequester water invisible from Jumbo.

* Grapevine Mesa and vast desert (S).

* Bonelli Peak, a conical peak on a ridge only 5.5-miles away (SW). Jack Grains and I climbed Bonelli on 26 Nov 1982 and a register said John Vitz and Don Kirby did on 16 Feb 1979.

* Generally westward: Charleston Peak and Potosi Mountain on the far horizon. In the late afternoon on a sunny day, the entire west to the horizon appeared as a succession of dark silhouettes of mountain ranges, stacked one behind another as though they were cut from cardboard.

* Muddy Mountains, Valley of Fire and (far off) the Sheep Range north of Las Vegas (NW).

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