Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Castle Tower (VABM)- Highland Range

The Highland Range is located just 22 miles down Highway 93 from Boulder City. It offers lots of scrambling, peak bagging and exploring opportunities on relatively good rock! On Monday, Dana and I set out to climb the highpoint in the Highland Range. We had no beta and just winged it driving in ending up exactly where we hoped to park.

We looked at possible routes and decided to take a more adventurous route than the obvious east face/ridge route. We head for a obvious saddle on the north side of the mountain. The rock was surprisingly good for this area. Once at the saddle, we headed into a gully surrounded by towers and pinnacles. A broken wall stood between us and the summit plateau. It was a class 3 climb. From there followed an easy class 2 walk along a ridge with a big dropoff to the west. A few minutes later we were at the summit starring at the tooth, a treacherous looking pinnacle.

After careful study and seeing no cairn on the top, we decided to pass on the climb. As we ate lunch I found a summit register. A few parties had climbed the pinnacle, but seemed like most rapped off of it. I did not have any gear and glad we did not attempt a climb up the pinnacle.

The last party to sign in was over two and a half years ago! This is a seldom visited area, but I think that will change! The route we took will be published later this week. It's a great winter route. The summit is less than 5,000 feet and rarely sees snow. Given the proximity to Vegas, this route can easily be done even in December without coming down in the dark.

This is a very scenic area with lots of further exploring waiting to be done. Dana and I are planning more hikes in this area very soon.

Note: The "VABM" is the name the sign in book gave this peak: Castle Peak VABM. Not sure what it stands for, but the BM is probably, Benchmark.