Sunday, December 8, 2013

Red Cap via Ash Canyon Loop - 12/8/13

Gray Cap Peak from Red Cap Minor

New Peak & LV Strip from Red Cap

Hiking Around the Eastern Base of the Calico Hills
 The temperatures began below freezing but the wind had moved out and left vibrant colors all over the Red Rock Canyon NCA. Eleven hikers arrived for a Super Sunday Scramble which was sure to warm us up. We parked at the Red Springs Picnic Area parking lot and started hiking north around the base of the Calico Hills. We dipped down into Ash Meadows and began our climb up Ash Canyon using the beloved route on the left side which consists of mostly sandstone slab.

Climbing Ash Canyon

Climbing Ash Canyon

Mike and Steve Climbing Ash Canyon's Trail
 After peaking on the white sandstone "hump," we continued our climb via trail up to the top of the canyon. With Turtlehead Peak rising against the very blue sky, the colors amazed all of us. At this point, Mike (the coordinator du jour) made the decision to climb Red Cap Minor from here instead of the planned ascent on the north side to Red Cap Major. Due to a small amount of snow that fell yesterday, he surmised that there was a possibility that the north crack could hold ice. To eliminate any lurking dangers, we began a spritely climb up the northeast side of the white sandstone.

Top of Ash Canyon

Climbing Northeast Side of Red Cap

Doyle and Tad Climbing the Northeast Side
 When we got to the crack level, Mike decided to take the first crack that headed straight up to Red Cap. Two hikers bowed out and headed up the regular route in the second crack to the Wall Tank area. When those two hikers reached the tank, they could see the rest of the group scaling a fun looking wall across the way. Continuing up to Red Cap, the two hikers reached the red sandstone in time to see the rest of the group solving a routing problem by scaling up red sandstone to the north. Eventually, all eleven hikers summited the small peak and took their break.

New Route Up East Side of Red Cap

Observing New Route from Old Route at Wall Tank

Solving a Routing Problem
The next part of the route took us over familiar territory from Red Cap to Calico Peak by way of the Sundial Tank, the Diane Dempsey Descent, and a lot of white sandstone. As we made the traverse, we noted many small spots of snow in cracks and crevices. Many of the tinajas we saw today were frozen solid. When we threw rocks on the icy surfaces, the rocks just slid across without making a bit of a splash.

All on Top of Red Cap Minor

Descent Off of Red Cap

Turtlehead Peak and Sundial Tank
 We descended off of Calico Peak through the walled descent crack and continued down down down to the red meadow below. There is a trail to follow for this section of the hike.

NOTE: The air temperature was so cold that the writer's camera began losing battery at Red Cap's summit. At Calico Peak's summit, the camera was becoming very stubborn and began refusing to take photos. Therefore, due to the lack of photos in the last third of the hike, the photos in this entry do not coincide very well with the narration!

Helmut Demonstrates Solid Ice

The Diane Dempsey Descent

Red Cap from Calico Peak
From the meadow, Doyle led us across the red sandstone on the east side of the ridge above weaving his way up, over and around big boulders. We passed our usual slot climb to Red Peak and continued down to our left finding a steep wash down to the slope of Angel Pass. Finishing the descent down this slope, we followed the trail around the Calico Hills back to our cars.

Today's scramble was 5.5 miles with 2000 feet of total elevation gain. It took 5.5 hours to accomplish all of this fun!

Descent from Calico Peak to Meadow

Traversing Over and Down to Angel Pass Slope

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