Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mack's Peak - 6/12/12

                                View of Mack's Peak while climbing.

                               Mack's Peak from trail.

 Eleven hikers drove up Lee Canyon Hwy toward the Spring Mountain NRA and turned right onto Mack's Canyon Road. After driving 4.2 miles, the dirt road ended and we got out of the cars, ready for a climb which would be short in distance but long on elevation gain; a recipe for a very strenuous hike up to Mack's Peak and back.

 We hiked about a quarter of a mile up the canyon then hung a right into a wash marked by cairns. At first, the wash was cluttered as in the photo above, however, soon it transformed into a scree covered steep slope as seen in the photo to the left. The hikers chose their own route as we attacked the steep slope which would take us up to the ridge on the right side of the wash.

                                Mack's Peak from steep slope.

The steepness was relentless as we chose our steps to make each one count the most. One by one, we reached the ridge and gathered while giving out encouragement to remaining hikers who were, by then, climbing twenty feet then catching their breath, then repeat and repeat and repeat. When we had the energy to look around, a view of Mt. Charleston could be seen to our "8 o'clock." The North and South Sisters were to our "6."

                               Saddle below final climb.

As a group, we followed the ridge to a small saddle below the rock mountain in front of us. We found the trail and continued our relentlessly steep climb. Our target destination was the bottom right end of a sloping chute which would provide us with a route to the peak. Even though the steep climbs up to this point were extremely challenging, the chute (going up and coming down) that we were about to tackle would be the most challenging part of the hike.

                             View looking up the chute.

(Oh yeah, I finally got a photo of the Mt. Charleston butterfly. They move really fast and rarely light on a twig for photos.) Anyway, back to the chute. Not only does it require strength but it also requires an experienced hiker's knowledge of how to consider the safety of him or herself and the others around them. The rocks in the chute are extremely loose. The slope is extremely steep. And, the left side of the chute is extremely high. Rocks WILL be dislodged as the hiker ascends and descends.

                   "Corner" where the chute arrives from below on right.
                                Trail continues up on left to the peak.

We climbed the chute with sufficient distance between each hiker then turned the "corner" to our right at the top. Here, the trail continues up with quite a bit of exposure until the hiker arrives on the peak. Party time! ... And, today's party involved the Three Stooges and the Little Rascals complete with sound effects. Yep! Showing our age! Never mind the gorgeous views of McFarland Peak, Cold Creek, the Sisters and Mt. Charleston.

                                View from Mack's Peak.

After our rest and snack, we filed down to the chute. Keeping a large distance between us, we negotiated the loose descent any way we felt safe. The photo to the left does not show the steepness but, if you can imagine, the photographer is hanging across a fallen tree to take this shot! At the bottom of the chute, more photos were taken as seen below. We continued down to the saddle to get out of the way of falling rock as the last of the hikers made their way down.

Together one last time, we began our scree slope descent. As we became separated, different routes were taken. The object was to get down to a wash and follow that wash out to Mack's Canyon. Sounds easier than it was as we carefully found our footing with every step. Nevertheless, all eleven hikers made it back to the cars in one piece within the same five to ten minutes. Distance: 3.5 miles. Elevation gain: 1800 feet.

                            Route back down to Mack's Canyon.

                             Descending wash to Mack's Canyon.

Jerry writes a good suggestion and adds this image below:

The next time we do Macks Peak (or Max Peak according to Garmin), we should try going up the next wash or gully.  I took a screen shot of our hikes last year and this year shown below.  The yellow track is from our hike in June 2011, the green is from Tuesday.  The far left yellow track is the route down that I took last year.  You can see that the slope in this wash is much less severe than the way we went up the last two times.  We tend to go up to the small peak labeled "9300" and then traverse across to the saddle.  I assume by pointing out this new route that I will be obliged to lead it next year. ;-)

1 comment:

Larry Dunn said...

It's very difficult to capture the steepness, the loose rock condition, and (in some sections) the narrow width and exposure of "the chute." The shot of the guy in the yellow shirt (me) comes closest!