Nelson Range, Big Maria Mountains


By: Dale Van Dalsem



On 11-23-91, Ron Jones & I ascended mighty Nelson & drank some carbonated beverages with some of our friends. Ron had become the fourth person to finish the DPS list, twice, a couple of days before. Today I became the fifth. In mid-1990, when I first planned the second-time list finish, I knew Ron was close, and had been for a long time, and thought he should finish it the second time with me or before. We planned it for spring, 1991. The March Miracle dumped 15 feet of snow on Mammoth - and a lot on some of the peaks I needed the second time, such as White, Humphreys, Navajo, Stirling, Tipton. A broken toe from Hayford and subsequent pulled plantar fascia (Zero peaks for 4.5 months June 1 to October 12th!), confined me to riding my bike & yodeling (!).

Anyway, it was good to finally do it & have friends there: Tom Scott, Dave Welbourn, Sue Wyman, Vic Henney, Bob & Anne Wright, Bill & Pat Russell, Tom Moumblow, Minor White, Linda McDermott, Bobbie Schnirel, Richard Duskett, John Gibba, Ron Bartell & Christine Mitchell, Bill & Bob Gray, Keats Hayden, Lou Brecheen, Ron & Leora Jones, John & Chessie McCully, Wendy Ruess, Steve & Debbie Smith, James Mitchell, Jay Holshuh, Susan Leverton, Mary Sue Miller, Jim Murphy, & Dale, & more, I think.

A bit cool & windy at the hot springs, where we ran into Chris Libby, one of the two finest & strongest young climbers I've climbed with (Bill Krause is the other), who cruised the Western States 100 in 23 hrs his only time out & skis all the extreme chutes at Mammoth on 3 pins, etc.- and a neat guy, now an aging 33.

A good campfire & Sue brought her guitar & those who could sing did; the rest of us listened in rapt enjoyment. Lots of goodies & no camel or pretzel jokes & not that much champagne was consumed and ALL the ladies left their suits on in the hot pools. WHAT'S THE DPS COMING TO????

My first DPS trip and first desert peak was in the fall of 1977. Jackie and I had just returned from two years in Jakarta, and 5 months around the world, and I got my SPS emblem on Humphries, and I heard about the Desert Peaks. I did Big Picacho with the late Ron Fracisco (No "N"), then Rabbit the following weekend on Fran's Frolic, one day, 6700 gain. After Rabbit, we were all stuck in the sand on a new canal bank road & didn't get away until 11 P.M., after a 19-hour day. I found a Motel 6 & phoned Jackie & told her "These desert peaks are TOUGH!"

A lot of good people were on the Big Picacho that Thanksgiving: Bill Gray, Keats Hayden, Bob Michael (No "S"), Kathy Quinn (Whatever happened to -), & Dick Ramirez with Diane R., Betty Jones, Delores H. - and others. That same season featured a G. Hubbard-led Spectre-Pinto hike, featuring Vi Grasso's belly dance (w/ castenets, veils, & not much else), with authentic music from a ghetto-blaster. Morning found a friend & co-worker of Roy Magnuson asleep by the fire. He later has achieved fame leading death marches in the Sierra Nevada, and shall be nameless at this time.

The future? I have about 30 peaks left to OFFICIALLY lead all the desert list (either in DPS or CMC), and some 30 peaks to finish the SPS list & join the triple list club. Will I ever do the desert list a third time? Perhaps, if bad knees, bad shoulders, broken toe, & pulled plantar fascia, and flattening (now size 16) feet allow it. Thanks to all of YOU for enriching my life by being a part of it!!-Dale

Sunday was also beautiful. The driving directions in the Guide for Big Maria were great. Two wheelers definitely will not go beyond Power Line Pole #48-1. The road gets very rough crossing the many washes. It is only 1.7 miles to the roadhead; but unless you want to walk, 4WD is a must. We followed the excellent hike and climb directions to Big Maria. The hike through the canyon is very pretty and the views from the top outstanding for a peak only 3381' high. You can see the Colorado River and well into Arizona. Big Maria is just a nice peak. We returned to the cars by 1:30 for an easy drive home. My thanks to Ron Young and his 4 wheeler for a great assist and fine desert driving.

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