Saturday, March 21, 2015

Windy Peak (O&B) - 3/21/15

Tree on Windy Peak

Tip of the Windy Peak Abutment

Climbing Heartbreak Hill

The wonderful Las Vegas weather of late has been irresistible to our most active club members. Today was no different as twenty-three hikers converged for a gorgeous climb up to Windy Peak, the second most southern peak of the Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment (aka the Sandstone Cliffs; aka the Wilson Cliffs). Windy Peak is situated between the peaks of Hollow Rock and Black Velvet with the canyons dividing these peaks being Grapevine Springs Canyon and Mud Springs Canyon.

Trail Between Saddle and Fork
We began our hike at the Mountain Springs Summit Pass trailhead off of Highway 160. The first mile is Heartbreak Hill. One mile that will certainly wake you up!

Hollow Rock Peak from Windy Peak Trail
Our first official stop point was the trail junction saddle. Everyone climbed at their own pace and one by one, we arrived on the saddle where there is a trail turnoff to the right that leads to Hollow Rock Peak.

Windy Peak Trail on Limestone Ridge

Straight in front of us, we could see Windy Peak. Between us and the sandstone peak, there was a tremendous foreboding canyon. Luckily, there is a trail on the ridge leading to the left that would get us there. We turned and started out the ridge. Soon, we found ourselves climbing again. Finally, we came to the awaited "fork in the trail." The left fork leads to Mountain Spring Peak. Our right fork continued the climb.

Mountain Spring Peak (Limestone) & Black Velvet Peak (Sandstone)
We were then starting out the ridge that leads to Windy Peak. After the initial climb here, we started an undulating descent down to the limestone/sandstone line.

Descending into the Sandstone
The sandstone abutment on which Windy Peak lies starts at the bottom of this descent. To gain access to the sandstone, there is a scramble up the slab that has a bit of exposure involved down to the right.

Climbing onto the Windy Peak Abutment

As seasoned hikers, the group of 21 enjoyed the small thrill and went on to continue the climb with a little more light scrambling. To reach the peak (rock high point), hikers need to stay just to the right of the ridge as much as possible. The left side is a cliff down to Mud Springs Canyon. The right side is a little more forgiving but will eventually take you down a lot further than you want to go. Stay near the ridge.

Black Velvet Peak and the Calico Hills Beyond
The group explored all sorts of routes over to the peak. It is probably safe to say that there is no particular way to go even though there are a few cairns to help the clueless.

Las Vegas Strip from Windy Peak
We found the peak and stopped for our snack. The wind had been blowing a lot since we reached the ridge trail but, now on the peak, the wind wasn't too bad.

Taking a Break on Windy Peak

We found shelter behind the rocks and enjoyed this magnificent setting. After taking a small visit out to the point, we started back. Our route would take us straight back the way we had come up. We re-gathered at the trail junction saddle then started down Heartbreak Hill. We always enjoy Windy Peak! A real crowd pleaser!

5 miles; 1650 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Leaving the Sandstone Knoll of Windy Peak

Climbing Back into the Limestone

Following the Trail back along the Ridge

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