Sunday, September 22, 2013

South Calico Hills Scramble - 9/22/13

Southern Section of Calico Hills from Climb to Red Peak

Old Growth Pinion Pine from near Red Peak

 We were thirteen strong today as we set out from the Red Springs Picnic Area parking lot for a 4 mile scramble up, down, over and under the southern portion of the Calico Hills of Red Rock Canyon NCA. This was the first morning that we could actually describe the desert air as being fresh and cold. A strong windy cold front was coming in but when we started our hike at the base of the eastern side of the Calico Hills, the wind stopped and would not return until we started our final descent.

View of Angel Pass
 Long shadows preceded us as we approached the bottom of the saddle that goes between Calico Basin and the Red Rock Scenic Loop area.

Starting Up Steep Wash North of Angel Pass

 We warmed up our knees and ankles on the calico colored rock then began our steep climb up to the Angel Pass saddle. (aka Red Springs Pass and Guardian Angel Pass) Everyone ascended at there own speed since almost everyone knew the climb pretty well, and we gathered again at the pass summit. Here, three hikers decided to descend down by the angel carving and wait for us at "snack rock." The remaining ten hikers turned up to their right and began a steep scramble up to the adjacent peak that we named "Red Peak."

Tunnel at Top of Steep Wash
 This is quite a tough scramble but everyone handled it like pros! Nearing the top, we were obliged to climb through a tunnel made by two huge boulders leaning against each other. We went through there quickly.

Ten on Top of Red Peak

 After taking a photo with Turtlehead Peak in the background, we looked down to the northwest side of the peak where we saw a tree or "stick" sticking up. This was our landmark for the place of descent. To the left, we see the faces of delight as we suggested that the tree-stick should probably not be used like a stripper pole since it didn't look that sturdy and the exposure here was a bit much. From here, we began a descent on the east side of the peak down a tricky slot.

Coming Down Through a Slot from Red Peak
 The slot led us down to a trail that traverses the eastern side of the hills all the way to the main Calico Tank area.

Descending Through the Rock Climbers' Abode

 We climbed up half way to the main tank before we junctioned with the descent route that led to Calico II below. The very steep descent was accomplished carefully. We passed by some rock climbers (seen in the photos to the right and above) doing their thing then met up with the three hikers that had decided against climbing up to Red Peak. One by one, we got down to the bottom of the bouldered wash and climbed up to snack rock where we took a well-deserved break.

Descending Jumbled Boulders
 At the break area, all thirteen hikers were together again.

Taking a Break at Snack Rock Below Calico II

 The next portion of the hike gave us a small rest from the intense scrambling as we made our way down the wash then up to the upper trail between Calico II and Calico I. Part 2 of the scrambling began when we dropped down into the wash beneath Calico I and found our way through the large slot. Up and over the rocks at the end of the slot and we were ready to take a left going up the hill through a crack.

Fancy Climb Out of Slot
 We found the Wave Wash and began an interesting climb through an artistic calico colored tunnel then continued up very steeply.

Wave Wash Challenges

 This wash continues all the way up to the ridge by using one of two possible right turns. When we reached the ridge, we climbed across to the other side of the southern hills and found the top of the Grand Staircase. By this time, the group had spread out and were anxious to complete the final descent. Back at the parking lot, we had gained a total of almost 2000 feet over the course of three main ascents. And a good scramble was had by all!

View of Escarpment from Top of Wave Wash

Descending the Grand Staircase of Calico Hills

1 comment:

Lettie said...

The monsoon rains have really made the desert grass beautiful.