Mount Wilson


By: Bob Michael


My Las Vegas climbing buddy George Quinn and I have discovered a terrific peak in Arizona, just on the far side of Hoover Dam, that fairly begs to be placed on THE LIST. From Las Vegas, Mount Wilson is very prominent on the southeast horizon, and shows a handsome profile which reminds me a bit of Sawtooth Peak from the upper stretch of the Mineral King road. Quinn sees it every day from his office window in downtown Vegas, and has obsessed over climbing it for years.

Wilson is the high point of a splendid granite fault block called Wilson Ridge. This range has a look and feel to it reminiscent of the Sierra de Cucapa and Cerro Pescadores. The access road turns east from US Highway 93 about 6 1/4 miles southeast of Hoover Dam; the road is hard to spot, and you'll probably cruise right by it the first time as we did. This rough, poor road - 4WD highly recommended - goes about 2 1/2 miles to an old copper prospect at precisely the start of the route at 3000'

My 2WD pickup was beginning to spin out on some steep rocky pitches, so, not knowing what horrors lay ahead, I found a good place to turn around about halfway in at 2500' and we parked there. (Of course, as often happens, I'd done the crux pitches of the road.)

From the copper prospect, the route goes directly N up the obvious ridge, then NE over rough, rocky point 4154', losing about 160' of elevation on the E side of this point before the long final pull up the W ridge of Wilson. This ridge is of moderate difficulty, with easy stretches alternating with steep boulder pitches. However, the overall sustained nature of the climb, along with the low start a mile down the road and the unusually warm February day (81', a record for the date, in Vegas) made for a fairly grueling ascent. Since we got a late start, we chose to avoid the slow going on the ridges on the descent by cutting down the southwest flank of the peak into a prominent canyon, exiting west out the lower end of this wash to rejoin the road near the copper prospect. Nonetheless, we reached the truck well after dark.

The summit view has got to be as good as that from any desert peak on the List; east far across the Detrital Valley (love that name) to the Grand Wash Cliffs, the ramparts of the Grand Canyon country; to the north and east, almost ~U of Lake Mead is visible, from Hoover Dam to the Overton Ann, the large bay on the east end of the lake where the Virgin River enters. Beyond the lake, Virgin Peak and the wild rugged country south of it in the remote southeast tip of Nevada (Gold Butte, Bonelli Peak). Westward we could plainly see the Luxor "Pyramid" on the Strip, almost the entire Spring Range, and Clark Mountain in California. To the south, the strand of the river led past Spirit Mountain and the mountains around Oatman. Rarely have I explored an "unknown" peak that so totally belongs on THE LIST!)

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