Thursday, March 8, 2012

Windy Peak - 3/8/12

                                Windy Peak

 The trailhead for the peaks at the southern end of the Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment is near the Mountain Spring pass summit on Highway 160. Looking forward to a crystal clear day after two days of winds up to 75 mph, sixteen hikers arrived here ready for the climb up to the trail junction. To reach the junction, the hikers had to climb six hundred elevation feet in the first mile of hiking. A view of Mt. Charleston and Griffith Peak reigned in the distance. To the southwest, we could see Telescope Peak and, closer by, we were watched over by Mt. Potosi.

                      Mt. Charleston (left/snow) and Griffith Peak (right/no snow)

The climbing didn't subside until another half mile when we completed the whole one thousand feet up. There, we began descending out the ridge of the escarpment peak known as Windy Peak. To our right and left, we could see the line on the ground created by the encroaching limestone as it slowly covers the younger sandstone rock. Our pace ranged from fast (by the jack rabbits) to moderate (by regular folks). Our coordinator, Steve A., did a great job accommodating the speeds of all the participants.

                                Limestone / Sandstone Line

                           Exposure at beginning of Windy Peak Scramble

At pre- determined intervals, we would all re- gather the group then move on. When we reached the sandstone, we scrambled past a bit of height exposure. A third of a mile later, we were sittin' pretty on the peak. The photographer walked out past the peak to the edge of the cliff for the first photo of the entry as she looked back. The clear day presented the photo of Las Vegas seen below.

                                Las Vegas from Windy Peak

Our break lasted several minutes, then we returned to the limestone trail. The trail is clear for most of the way, however, there is one area that cairns have to be used. At the trail junction, the group divided into two groups. One group went back to the cars using the trail we had used coming up. The other group used a nearby ridge to descend; a slightly longer route. Everyone reached the cars at the same time and the hike, itself, had lasted a little more than three hours.

                                Heading Home

                                Elevation chart for the up and back route.

                                Elevation chart using the ridge route on the return.

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