Sunday, October 22, 2017

Windy Peak - 10/22/17

Mt. Potosi from Crack Climb on Windy Peak

Tree & Root on Sandstone

Windy Peak from Saddle

Passing Radio Relay Tower on Heartbreak Hill
 After South Peak and Hollow Rock Peak, Windy Peak comes in as the third peak from the south end of the Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment. It is also the most popular peak to climb on the escarpment sandstone. As part of the Keystone Thrust, the escarpment sandstone is achingly slowly being covered by the older limestone. The limestone / sandstone line can be seen clearly from any of the peaks along the escarpment. When climbing any of the peaks from the limestone trails, this amazing line is crossed. Today, ten hikers began hiking up Heartbreak Hill from the Mountain Springs Pass Trailhead. It was a strong affable group that was in no hurry.

Trail to Fork
 We gathered at the saddle after climbing 600 elevation feet in one mile. Also at the saddle was another local hiking group with whom we were friendly.

Starting Descent to Windy Peak Sandstone
 We said our "hellos" and petted their two dogs, Gibbs and Abby. It was nice to see them and they were headed to the same peak.

Neighboring Black Velvet Peak

Las Vegas Strip
Our group headed on up the trail and didn't see the other group until we started back down from the peak. (Their peak reservation was for twenty minutes later!) We gathered again at the trail fork where the left fork continued to Mountain Springs Peak. We took the right fork and climbed up to the high point of the hike. Here, we began our descent down the bench toward the sandstone. Our view of the escarpment to the north and south were beautiful today. California's wildfire smoke had cleared with yesterday's wind and we had a clear view of the Las Vegas Strip.

Neighboring Hollow Rock Peak
 The next peak to our north along the escarpment was Black Velvet Peak. To the south, Hollow Rock Peak showed its little knob on the end of another bench.

The Crack Climb
 The front hikers reached the sandstone first and played around at the crack climb while the last hikers arrived. Yes, Richard is not in the "crack" in the photo above! It is the crack to his left.

Route to Peak

Taking a Break at the Overlook
 Once we were all above the crack and onto the sandstone outcropping, we hiked and scrambled along a well memorized route. The newbies fell in line between the oldies and we made it to the peak where the ammo box held a log book for us to sign. Usually, we stay at the peak for our break but, today, we all hiked out to the end of the outcropping for our break along the cliff. There is a little bit of shade created here by a tree and rock overhang. The weather was a tad warm and there was no breeze so the shade was welcome.

Views from Windy Peak
 Just as we were starting down the sandstone, the other group arrived. Our group followed each other down the same route we came up.

Descending off of Windy Peak Sandstone
 We connected with the limestone and climbed up along the bench to reach the hike high point again.

Climbing back up Bench

Descent to Fork
 From the high point, we descended down past the fork to the saddle and made the decision to finish the hike down the burnt ridge adjacent to the Heartbreak Hill trail. A small trail took us over to the left where we started down the bare ridge. At the end of the ridge, the route follows a fairly straight line toward the trailhead and the cars. The last little bit was on a dirt road where we turned to our right and returned to the cars. It was a great day of relaxed hiking and conversation.

5 miles; 1500 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Trail Descent

Taking Trail from Saddle to Burnt Ridge

Burnt Ridge Descent

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