WHITE ROCK HILLS PEAK
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WHITE ROCK HILLS PEAK
On Tuesday, January 17th, Mike Shackleford and I set out to climb White Rock Hills Peak from the Willow Springs parking lot. Mike had never summitted this peak, and I had only done it from the other side (White Rocks turnoff).
We left the car about 9:15 continuing about a quarter of a mile up Rocky Gap Road, before turning right and heading up the steep sandstone ledges towards our target. After reading Brandon's complex description of the route in Hiking Las Vegas, we were not very confident that we could follow the route to this difficult peak. Also, since we got a late start, we had only so many hours of daylight to make our attempt.
Soon after we began heading up the sparsely cairned route to the top of the ridge, Mike and I began discussing probabilities (as we often do). I assessed our probability of successfully summitting as about 65%, and Mike thought our chances were not so good. Since we didn't want to wager money on an event so easily influenced ("Oops I think I just turned my ankle and we have to go back to the car"), we wagered push-ups to be done by the loser. So we settled on betting Mike's 20 push-ups to my 35 (since Mike was getting odds).
Mike emerging from "secret passage"
Just before we reached the ridgeline, we encountered the highlight of the day, a narrow chute that led to a passage with an opening just big enough to squeeze through. Mike and I had chosen different paths at this point - I was on the ridgeline and Mike was about 100 feet below, paralleling a cliff band and searching for a chute to ascend to join me. I walked out to the edge of the cliff to try to help him find the best route up, but could see nothing that looked reasonable from my vantage point.
Mike descending chute from "secret passage"
Then Mike said he was going to try to climb what appeared to me to be a narrow, very steep crack. I yelled down to him that it didn't look promising to me, but as he began climb, he disappeared from my view. He seemed confident, but I had no idea where he was going. About a minute later, he emerged from a "rabbithole" somewhat hidden by brush, about 12 feet from the edge of the cliff. It was so amazing to see Mike appear from nowhere, I convinced Mike that we should descend this way through the hole so I could go through it. The route was slightly more difficult, but descending through the very narrow passage (backpacks must be taken off to fit through) was well worth it.
Thick ice encountered in wash just below peak
Although our route was significantly different than Brandon's we managed to reach the top of the ridgeline about 11:30, despite backtracking on several occasions. However, since we had set a turnaround time of 1:00, our chances of summiting seemed slim as we still had a way to go to reach the peak. Fortunately, the route-finding became much easier from this point, as cairns became much more frequent. We blindly followed the ever-present cairns (route-finding for dummies) as they led us up a wash in which there were patches of three or four-inch deep ice! We finally hoisted ourselves up onto the final summit block at 12:59, one minute before our turnaround time.
Mike doing push-ups on the summit with Las Vegas and Calico Hills in the background
I took pictures as Mike did his 20 push-ups right on the summit. The 360-degree view was tremendous as we ate a quick lunch before heading down. The descent was much quicker (2.25 hours) than I expected as we only had to backtrack briefly one time. We returned to the car about 3:45 and headed over to the restaurant at Bonnie Springs for a terrific dinner before heading home.
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