More fine and aesthetic desert summits scrambles Dec. 1-3, 2020

John Morrow

May 22, 2015
Valley of Fire State Park
Elbow Range, Desert National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Mead National Recreation Area North Shore

Getting Jerry and Drew to a location where they could begin the exodus north to Seattle was our priority leaving the Sonoran Desert. Neither had been to Valley of Fire State Park. We were a bit tired and the short approach walks, cush campground, and showers sounded pretty good. It was completely the wrong direction for me, since I'd find myself back all the way south along I-10 once again a few days later. But I loved our choices of scrambles.

Dec. 1: VOF

A theme had emerged of scrambling things that Courtney Purcell, Rambles and Scrambles, gave a "4 Star" rating. Not much left for me to do in VoF but the 5-Arch and Gibraltar Rock had eluded me up until then. Great choices we enjoyed thoroughly.

The Five Arch; on right
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Where's a route?
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Class 3 ramp start
by John Morrow, on Flickr

crux exposure
by John Morrow, on Flickr

careful descending
by John Morrow, on Flickr

back to the trailhead
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Gibraltar Rock next.

On Gibraltar Rock
by John Morrow, on Flickr

by John Morrow, on Flickr

descending the awkward
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Dec 2: Leaving camp set up at VoF we headed to the Elbow Range, 35 miles west, to scramble its highpoint. The guidebook and interwebs seem to avoid a long interesting looking curving E/NE Ridge. We liked the looks of it and it turned out awesome. Long and with near continuous scrambling.

First look, in the back
by John Morrow, on Flickr

aesthetic scrambling
by John Morrow, on Flickr

knife-edge walk
by John Morrow, on Flickr

lots more
by John Morrow, on Flickr

great views
by John Morrow, on Flickr

on top!
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Elbow Range HP 4650;
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Dec 3. Lake Mead Northshore, solo again.

Time for Jerry and Drew to depart. I was comfy at the campground so I set out to the northshore for more fun scrambles. I chose a short loop of Polytick Peak and Murphy Peak.
The south face of Polytick looked interesting and I found a nice corner to scramble on the SE side. Then on to Murphy's. The north side of Murphy really sucked, ridiculously friable despite a solid appearance. My descent on the South slope was far superior and I can recommend it.

Polytick Peak next
by John Morrow, on Flickr

rare selfie to show route
by John Morrow, on Flickr

(upper) route visible on left skyline
by John Morrow, on Flickr

NW Face of Murphy, not recommended
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Muddies over Bowl of Fire
by John Morrow, on Flickr

better Murphy route (south ridge)
by John Morrow, on Flickr

by John Morrow, on Flickr
Wow, love all these photos! Super cool views from up high in VoF and Elbow Range.
VoF is a great place... and there are apparently a number of fun off trail finds if you like cool rock colors.
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