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2015 Blog Entries 

The Passing of Adam Helman
It's unfortunate to start 2015 with a sad topic. For those of you who weren't aware, Adam Helman, webmaster for COHP.org, passed away a couple of weeks ago. No other person in the entire country was as much a champion of County Highpointing as Adam was. The outpouring of fond memories and recollections of Adam's efforts was truly stunning. He was enthusiastic, bright, adventurous, and outspoken. But more than that, he was giving - the amount of hours he spent working on COHP.org will likely never be quantified, or surpassed. He was the true definition of the word "peakbagger", and will serve as an inspiration for many of us for years to come, and throughout our remaining lifetimes.
Rest well, Adam, you've earned it.


Great Basin Update
11/29/2015 - Since several autumn storms have passed through the Great Basin recently, snow now blankets all of the highest peaks, and many of the mid-elevation ones as well. The temperatures have dropped severely, and on some nights it has been in the teens and single digits even down in the valleys. This means winter has arrived early, and for many of us, our Great Basin peakbagging activities are now suspended or reduced. With temperatures this frigid, frostbite becomes a very real possibility, and hikers must now take additional precautions. Winter clothing and equipment are mandatory, and many peaks won't even be accessible. Even more so than in the warmer months, it is critical to inform someone of your itinerary, and carry a personal locator beacon. These devices can save your life in extreme cold situations, as they can direct search and rescue organizations to your exact location. Whether you are stranded on a dirt approach road or injured in a remote locale, these devices are lifesavers and every responsible backcountry enthusiast should own one, and know how to operate it. 

Caribou Mountain, Trinity Alps, California
10/4/2015 - After a long season of peakbagging in the Sierra, Great Basin, or Cascades, some hikers will seek a change of pace in a different location. The Trinity Alps will fill the bill quite nicely, and Caribou Mountain is a reasonable destination. Starting from the Big Flat Campground on the Salmon River, you immediately cross this usually well-flowing river. However, in the Fall of a drought year, it is a simple "hop-the-rocks" affair. The Caribou Lakes Trail then leads some 2.75 miles to a trail intersection at Caribou Meadows. You then continue southwest up the "old" Caribou Lakes Trail to Point 8118'. Here the cross-country begins, as one traverses the connecting ridge to the peak. It is best to stay on the mixed rock and dirt terrain left (north) of the ridgeline while working your way to the southeast. Evergreens, mini-meadows, and granite slabs await you along the way. Atop the 8560' summit of Caribou Mountain, you are treated to excellent views of many distant peaks including Shasta, Lassen, Packers Peak, Sawtooth Mountain, Caesar Peak, Mount Hilton, and hundreds of others. The Trinity Alps are truly special when the autumn colors are displayed and won't disappoint. The only caveat is the distance - be prepared for a solid day of driving many long and winding roads to get to your starting point.

Great Basin Update
8/31/2015 - Summer is now transitioning into Fall, and in just a few short weeks, stormy weather may arrive. One of the biggest challenges that Great Basin hikers have faced in the past few weeks is smoke. With all of the wildfires burning in California, the smoke has been blowing east across Nevada, creating hazy conditions. The summit views have been greatly diminished and at times, breathing has been difficult or unpleasant. Options have ranged from not hiking to driving hundreds of miles away to cleaner-air locales. Adding to the burden has been daytime temps in the 90s and 100s in the valleys. So it has been a challenging summer for peakbaggers, to say the least. But soon we will be treated to turning aspens, cooler temps, and hopefully cleaner skies. So now is the time to start planning for your Autumn county high points, county prominence peaks, and even club-listed peaks. "Go time" will be here soon!

Basin and Range National Monument
7/27/2015 - A few weeks ago, the government passed a bill which created a new National Monument in central Nevada. Designated as Basin and Range National Monument, this area encompasses the Garden and Coal Valleys as well as most of the Golden Gate Range. Portions of other ranges are in the Monument including the Worthington Mountains, Seaman Range, and Mount Irish Range. But what does this mean for peakbaggers? If history is any indicator, it means less access to the peaks in this area. Over time, some dirt roads will be closed, including roads that are currently used to access many of the mountains in this area. It is especially likely that many of the aforementioned ranges will lose dirt road driving access to some degree. So what should you do? If any of the peaks in this area are still on your "to do" list, I recommended getting out there and getting them this Fall. Desirable targets include Worthington Peak, Meeker Peak, Mount Irish, Golden Gate Range HP, and the Seaman Range HP. Other lesser peaks in this area, including some infrequently hiked P1Ks, may also be of interest. Good luck!

Divide Peak and Amargosa Overlook
7/5/2015 - While Las Vegas swelters in the usual 110 degree heat of summer, hikers seeking an escape from this furnace can drive up to the Spring Mountains. Here, amongst the shade of bristlecones and limber pines, lies the 10,000' mountains of Divide Peak and Amargosa Overlook. After driving to the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead at the Lee Canyon Ski Area, a hike of some 11+ miles and 2700' gain can be worked out to snag these two alpine beauties. Along the high ridgelines, you'll be treated to early summer wildflowers and may encounter deer and elk. Impressive views to nearby peaks include Mummy Mountain, the Clark County HP - Charleston Peak, McFarland and Willow Peaks, Macks Peak, The Sisters, Clinton Peak and Mount Reagan. A good book with information on many hikes in the Spring Mountains is Rambles and Scrambles by Las Vegas author Courtney Purcell. 

Great Basin Update
6/24/2015 - Spring has yielded to early summer and almost all of Nevada's County high points are now hikeable. The temps in the valleys are in the 90s or 100s, but it remains cooler at the higher elevations. Many colorful wildflowers are out on the slopes and creatures like deer, antelope, and elk are on the move. The downside is that, due to the drought, it is likely to be a pretty bad wildfire season. Already, smoke from the California fires has blown across Nevada, creating hazy limited views instead of hundred mile vistas. Additionally, the monsoonal rains of May have caused alot of water damage to various backountry roads. Therefore the driving is slower and 4WD may be required in spots where it previously wasn't. If in doubt about the terrain ahead, drive slower and more carefully. But most importantly, get out there and get some peaks.

More on Mount Grant
5/17/2015 - Another article with more information detailing the Mount Grant access process appeared in the local Hawthorne newspaper. This article provides some missing details and is well worth a read.

Mount Grant Access Restored!
4/23/2015 - Yesterday was a special day for Nevada County Highpointers, and indeed for peakbaggers around the country. The Hawthorne Army Depot announced that they are restoring hiking access to Mount Grant, and fishing access to the Rose Creek Reservoir, both of which are on the base. This is the article that appeared in the Reno-Gazette-Journal. The process for hiking Mount Grant entails getting the key to the Cottonwood Canyon gate, and then driving up the 17 mile route to the parking area just below the summit. From there it is a short hike of about 1/4 mile and 125' of gain.To make arrangements to get the gate key, call 775-945-7101 or send an email to mariana.macpherson.ctr@mail.mil to get a copy of the access & fishing permit procedure.

Additionally, the annual Mt Grant Challenge will take place on Saturday, September 12, 2015, at 7:00 am. The hike/run is 17 miles and 7000' gain. Cost is $75 per person or $50 each in teams of four. For more information, please visit www.911challenge.org.

Winnemucca Mountain
4/10/2015 - Little mention is given in this blog to drive-up peaks around the Great Basin. The simple reason for this is that there just aren't that many drive-ups around. One such peak that is worthy of a visit is Winnemucca Mountain (6742'). From downtown Winnemucca, its a drive of about 3.8 miles north on US Highway 95 to get to the turnoff (which also leads to a dump and shooting range.) Then a drive on a narrow winding road for 7+ miles to the top. Despite the abundance of buildings and towers on the summit, the views are compelling. In the distance, one can see Sonoma Peak, Mt Tobin, Adam Peak, Bloody Run Peak and the Santa Rosas, Blue Mountain & the Slumbering Hills, Jackson Mountains, Eugene Mountains, Star Peak in the Humboldt Range, and much more. As an added bonus, Winnemucca Mountain is a Nevada P1K. This peak makes a great add-on after doing the Humboldt County high point (Granite Peak in the Santa Rosas) or Star Peak (high point of nearby Pershing County.)

Great Basin Update
3/22/2015 - Dry and getting drier? That is certainly one way to describe the conditions in the Great Basin this past "winter". And it is true to use the term "winter" loosely, since it is once again another drought year. The peaks below 10K never really did shut during the winter months, and routes on many high ones were available throughout. And now here we are in Spring. While some late arriving storms are very possible, things are still dry and snow-free routes are available on most Nevada peaks 9K and lower. Even the higher ones in the 10-11K range may have possibilities - it is more a matter of the approach roads being usable. So be cautious in not getting stuck in icy or muddy spots during your early season forays into the backcountry. Be sure to have reliable communication devices along, and continue to be prepared for winter conditions, just in case conditions do deteriorate rapidly.

Majuba Benchmark
3/1/2015 - Located not far from the Rye Patch Reservoir near Interstate 80, Majuba Benchmark (7388') is one of the nicest and most isolated peaks in Pershing County. After a dirt road approach of some 17+ miles, you'll arrive at a cattle trough where the hike towards the south ridge begins. It is open sage country so the walking remains easy. It steepens though along the ridge, which is taken northward until the summit is attained. Here the hiker is treated to views that include Seven Troughs BM, the Poker Brown Mtns, Granite-Gerlach, Donnelly, King Lear and the Jackson Mtns HP, Eugene Mtns, Blue Mtn, Sonoma Peak, Star Peak, the West Humboldt Range, Trinity Peak, and much much more. Majuba is a Nevada P2K and a range high point, so it has added value. During the drought-ish winters like this one, Majuba is an accessible and satisfying option for peakbaggers.

Hyko Benchmark
2/9/2015 - Situated near the center of Lincoln County, Hyko Benchmark (7950') is the high point of the South Pahroc Range. Leaving US Highway 93 just east of Pahroc Summit Pass, one heads south on a very good dirt road, ultimately reaching good parking spots some 11+ miles from the pavement. From there it's a steep push upward to gain the south ridge of Hyko. But the work is not yet done, for there are many rock formations and large boulders between you and the summit block. That in itself is class 3, but not at all difficult. From atop this worthy little beast, the near and distant views include Bald Mtn (Area 51), Mt Irish, Troy Peak, Seaman Range HP, Egan Range, Mt Grafton, Wheeler Peak, Highland Peak, Signal Peak in Utah, Chokecherry Mtn, Mormon Peak, Virgin Peak, Sheep Range, the Spring Mountains, and much more. Hyko is not just a Nevada range high point, but its also a P2K and a wilderness high point. For peakbaggers seeking a mountain on multiple lists that is generally snow-free during the winter, Hyko will most certainly fit the bill.

Churchill Butte
1/31/2015 - Silver Springs, Nevada, is not exactly know as a peakbagging mecca. In fact, most folks barely notice a town there when passing through on Hwy 50 or 95. But if you are in the vicinity of Silver Springs and have time for a drive-up peak, then Churchill Butte will fit the bill. From the junction of US Hwys 50 and 95, reset your odometer and go 5.3 miles west on Hwy 50 to the signed "Micro Road" on the left (south) side of the highway. After turning south onto it, reset your odometer. This rough rocky dirt road should be ok for most decent-clearance vehicles, and in 5.6 miles you'll arrive at a parking area at a facility near the top. A short 5 minute walk west gets you to the 6030' high point. There are nice views from here to many ranges, including the Carson Range, Virginia Range, Flowery Range, and Pine Nut Mountains. As an added bonus, this peak is a Nevada P1K. It also overlooks a nearby segment of the American Discovery Trail, a route that travels across America from the Pacific to the Atlantic.