Sunday, March 27, 2016

Windy Peak - 3/27/16

Windy Peak View Southeast

From Peak to Cliff

Mt. Potosi beyond Windy Peak Sandstone

Climbing Heartbreak Hill
 The weather was a bit dismal and it was quite cool up on the Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment but the fellowship was warm and the heart and lungs got their workout. Fifteen hikers arrived at the Mountain Springs summit pass trailhead for a simple out and back hike to Windy Peak. There were two hikers in our group who had not accomplished this feat as yet and we quickly introduced them to "Heartbreak Hill." It matters not what condition you think you are in. Heartbreak Hill is a formidable test.

Still Climbing
 Most of the group raced up to the saddle! Eventually, the whole group gathered there.

Mt. Potosi South of Escarpment

High Point
 At this point, it was decided that the coordinator would hang back with one of the newbies. An accommodating pace should be the ticket. The others slowed their march a little and continued up the trail. The newbie actually did quite well. It is unfair to compare yourself to hikers that have regularly done difficult climbs for several years. Nonetheless, the coordinator was bid adieu at the high point of the hike and she continued down toward the sandstone with the others still in sight.

Starting Down to the Sandstone (Trail Indicated)
 The gray weather stayed cool as the hikers worked their way to the peak.

The Crack for Mounting the Sandstone (Route Indicated)

Scrambling to the Peak (Possible Routes Indicated)
Finally, the coordinator reached the limestone / sandstone line and stepped up onto the Windy Peak slab by climbing up the steep crack and stepping across to the parallel crack. She could still see the front hikers making their way up. Although the route is firmly implanted in her head, there are several cairns to mark the way. At one point, (photo to left), the hikers ahead took a different route over the rocks. It's all good if you get there in one piece!

Summit Photo
 The group welcomed the coordinator as she made her last few steps to the peak. Then we all had our break.

Mt. Wilson rising beyond Black Velvet Peak from Windy Peak Cliffside

Claret Cup about to Bloom on Peak
 We noticed that the newbie was seen making his way along the last of the trail heading toward the sandstone. Probably not a good scenario for a newbie. We later learned that he stopped at the crack. We finished our break wandering around on the extended peak area then started back. We picked up the newbie on the limestone / sandstone line and started the climb back up to the high point. This climb may be the toughest part of the hike since it is on the way back.

Calico Hills beyond Black Velvet Peak
 The group got spread out again and, at the high point, a veteran hiker decided to explore the route over the peak and down to the Mountain Spring Peak trail.

Descending the Sandstone

Almost back to Limestone
 When the coordinator and newbies made it back to the saddle where everyone was waiting, the veteran hiker was nowhere to be seen. A short search recovered the wanderer who had gotten caught in an undiscovered valley. ... Okay, it has been discovered for a while now. Anyway, we all descended down Heartbreak Hill with the exception of two who opted for the burnt ridge. A good hike. A good workout. Ugly weather.

5 miles; 1700 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Crack Descent

Trail Back to High Point

Trail Back to Saddle

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