Thursday, September 25, 2014

Krafft Mountain Traverse W to E - 9/25/14

Red Rock Escarpment, Calico Hills and Calico Basin from Krafft Mountain

Traversing Krafft Mountain Summit Ridge

 Sixteen scramblers set out from the dirt parking lot in the far reaches of Calico Basin with intent to do a west to east traverse of Krafft Mountain in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The day would be very warm for late September so the hike was shortened to a four mile loop. We left the cars and headed straight for 5 Stop Hill on the trails. But, today, the hill was a 0 Stop Hill. We hiked non-stop up to the Krafft Mountain saddle.

Morning Light on Red Rock from Ascent Route
 At the saddle, two hikers said they would drop down into Gateway Canyon instead of climbing over the top of Krafft Mountain for their loop-of-the-day. Then there were fourteen!

Ascent Route

 Following no one in particular, we headed straight up Krafft. Our route ended up being a little to the right of the regular ascent route but we had a lot of fun and ended up on the false peak just as always. During the climb, another hiker bailed even though we were very happy to wait for him. It just wasn't his day and he returned the way he came. Thirteen hikers continued over the false peak and down to the "beach" area where there is deep red sand.

Lela and Scott
 Another scramble up ensued while we solved a couple of Mike's jumbled word puzzles. Yes, we multi-task!

Signing the Log on Krafft Mountain Peak

We arrived at the peak and took a short break while we wrote our names in the log book and took in the views. It was a beautiful day but there was a haze over the downtown Las Vegas area. From here, we dropped down to a saddle on the ridge as we traversed over to the secondary peak. Who knows if we had taken this route before?! Sometimes hikes are "new" every time ....  At any rate, we enjoyed a few interesting obstacles on today's route.

Today's Interesting Ridge Traverse
 There were a couple of tight squeezes and a lot of up, down, arounds. There were even a couple of small leaps!

Traversing the Ridge

 Eventually, we reached the secondary peak. No one was in the mood to climb that peak boulder so we settled on sitting for another break and enjoying a great view of the Calico Hills and Calico Basin. We could see our cars from here ... all accounted for! We talked about the recent hikes of Charleston Peak and Bonanza Trail. Then we puzzled over the upcoming closure of the large northern area of the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area.

Enjoying the Secondary Peak
 It will be closed for the next 5 years! Not sure what's really going on! Something about re-seeding after the 2013 wildfire but ... did that whole area burn??? No. I guess it's something else.

Las Vegas View from Secondary Peak

 We left the secondary peak and finished traversing the ridge. Passing up the cairns on the right side, we followed Mike straight out to the end of the ridge. Next, we squeezed between two very large boulders and dropped off the end of the earth! Yep, the next 45 minutes involved very steep scrambling straight down the side of Krafft Mountain. We squeezed between rocks to gain traction. We held on to questionable hand holds. We pirouetted around and through the foot holds.

Mike's Crazy Descent Route
 Most of all, we were very careful not to dislodge loose rocks!

Watch for Loose Rocks

  Soon, the larger group broke into two groups. One group edged over to the right and found a slightly more gentle descent in the area of the regular route. The other group adventurously continued following Mike, our fearless coordinator. And, Mike's strategy was to just go straight down. As we followed Mike, we were all looking out for each other. It was quite a rush to accomplish the down climbs being presented! The other group had gathered at the bottom where they enjoyed watching us find our way. At the bottom, we found ourselves still in one piece and we hiked the trail that circles Krafft Mountain and leads back to the cars. Great fun!!

3.5 miles; 1200 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Descent Route on Right Side of Photo - Ascent Route on Left Side

Rounding Krafft Mountain on Return

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