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Ascender Title
August 2011
Volume 17, Issue 7


Looking along our ridge route with Mt. Grafton being the farthest bump

Eric hiking up the road at the beginning of our long day

Some of the dead trees and dense foliage we had to negotiate

Wheeler Peak and the Snake Range from Grafton

Beautiful wildflowers along the way

Eric completing the one brief class 3 section we did

Magnificent sunrise from our camp below Ward Mountain

Eric setting out for Ward Mountain

Ward Mountain atop the open sage slopes

Meandering through aspen groves

Charcoal Kilns at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park dating back to the 1870's


August 19-21, 2011
Report & Photos by Joel Brewster

Although many have not heard of Mount Grafton or Ward Mountain, Eric and I made a trip up to central Nevada for the sole purpose of summitting these peaks. As you may know, Eric and I are peakbaggers, tirelessly pursuing peaks on various lists. For me, I am interested in visiting the highpoint in each of Nevada'a 17 counties. It turns out that the highpoint of Lincoln county is actually along the ridge to Mt. Grafton about a mile from the summit. While some (Eric) may scoff at a highpoint that is not a peak, it is actually quite interesting, like a treasure hunt. Finding the exact location in this case was not difficult as it was marked with not one, but two cairns. Incidentally, this was my 13th Nevada county highpoint.

Eric's objective was to summit Mt. Grafton as he had attempted it in early June and was turned back by deep snowdrifts on the north slopes of the many sub-peaks crossed on the summit ridge. After driving up Friday night and carcamping along Patterson Pass Road, we awoke to a beautiful day. We made our long day a bit shorter by driving up a side road for a bit over a half a mile before the road got too rocky and muddy.

From there we anticipated about 16 miles roundtrip and about 5000' gain. As it turned both were nearly correct, although with accumulated gain, it was closer to 6000' gain. However, the terrain turned out to be much tougher than we planned. We expected to follow an old road for the first few miles, then have an easy ridge walk over to the summit. as it turned out, once we left the road it was a combination of bushwhacking through dense aspen groves, climbing over deadfall, wading through fields of thistles, and boulder-hopping on somewhat unsteady talus all the way to the summit. There were several times during the day that Eric and I got separated in the dense foliage, and just had a plan to meet at the next saddle along the ridgeline.

After many sub-peaks along ridge, we finally came to the county line and highpoint. From there we climbed one last sub-peak and scrambled/bushwhacked our way up to the top of Mount Grafton at 10,990'. The views were quite spectacular in all directions. We enjoyed the scenery and tried not to think of the long journey back to the car!

We made decent time heading back, but the bushwhacking was quite tiring, and began to feel endless. Boy, were we glad to finally get to the road. We started at 6 am and got back to the car just about 6 pm. We were happy, but exhausted.

We stopped in Ely to gas up and have an excellent dinner at Twin Wok before making the short journey to the trailhead for Ward Mountain, located just a few miles south of Ely. There is a 4WD road going all the way to the summit, but we were unsure how far we would get in my Jeep. Since it was dark by then, we decided to just look for a good spot to camp and drive farther up the road by morning light. We found a great camp spot at 7700' just off the road (and just before the condition of the road got dramatically worse as we found out in the morning).

I slept peacefully in my car, but Eric put up his tent in a pretty stiff wind. I fell asleep to the sound of Eric's tent flapping in the breeze. I vaguely remembered thinking that the wind must have stopped in the night because I didn't hear Eric's tent anymore. I awoke to a beautiful sunrise. I assumed Eric was already up because his tent was flat, with the poles taken out of the supports. I got up and was eating breakfast, when I saw an amazing sight. Eric's tent stood up by itself! Eric had actually taken the poles out himself around midnight so that the tent would not flap and was still sleeping in his deconstructed tent when I woke up!

By 6:00, we were driving up the rapidly deteriorating road. We managed to drive carefully around 2.5 miles up to 9300'. From there, we had a short 5 mile roundtrip with just under 2000' gain. We reached to summit at about 8:00 passing several groups of elk along the way. There was some interesting equipment on the summit which was weighted down by large containers full of rocks on each corner. I guess it gets windy on Ward Mountain (10,936'), although it was a beautiful morning when we were there.

Odd equipment on summit of Ward Mountain

We made good time and were back to the car around 9 am. We had plans of possibly hitting another peak on the way home, but after going partway up the long road to Egan Benchmark, the road soon became very rocky, rutted, and muddy as a stream was running down the middle of the road. We decided to bag it and head home, although we did make a short stop at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. It was quite interesting, with 5 kilns dating from the 1870's.

This historical marker was quite informative.

The kilns were very well-preserved and impressive.

We arrived back in Vegas around 4:00, stopping in Caliente for lunch. Nevada is full of countless peaks like Mt. Grafton and Ward Mountain; they go largely unnoticed, but are beautiful peaks on which you rarely see other hikers.


Mike Shackleford

Where were you born?
Pasadena, CA

How long have you lived in Las Vegas?
10.5 years

What is your occupation?
There is no good short answer to that one. I've passed all the tests and pay my dues, so I'm allowed to call myself an actuary. However, unlike most actuaries, I work as a gambling writer and consultant. Sometimes I write about my mountaineering experiences on my website

How long have you been an LVMC member?
10 years

What is your favorite hike/climb?
If forced to pick just one, it would be Grand Canyon rim to rim. The club is overdue to do that one again.

What is the most challenging hike/climb you have done?
Mt. Shasta in a single day

How did you get into hiking/climbing?
My parents, especially my mother, are avid hikers. I think I got the hiking gene when I was conceived. I've been hiking since I took my first step in Yosemite.

What are your hobbies other than hiking/climbing?
I'm also into running, biking, and swimming. I also collect a host of things, my favorite of which is license plates.



President: Jose Witt
Vice President/Training Director: Richard Baugh
Secretary: Sue Schager
Treasurer: Lynda Gallia
Newsletter Editor: Joel Brewster
Outings Director: Dan Young
Membership Director: Eric Kassan
Website Director: Amy Brewster
Public Relations/Marketing Directors:
Al Bennett
Club Gear Director: Dan Young
Social Director: Kristi Meyer
Assistant Directors: Heather Torrey, Chris Meyer, Barb McGibbon

The Ascender is the monthly online newsletter of the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club. All content is property of LVMC and may be used only by the original submitters. All others must obtain written consent from the Board of Directors.
All Club members are invited to submit trip reports, photos, trip listings, recipes, classified ads and other related information. September 10th is the deadline for the next issue.

Joel Brewster




Please send any address, phone number and e-mail changes to Eric Kassan, membership director. LVMC currently has approximately 130 paid members or families.

If you wish to send a check instead of using PayPal online, please make your check payable to the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club and mail to: P.O. Box 36026, Las Vegas, NV 89133-6026.
Single membership is $30 per year, $85 for three years. Family annual membership is $40, $110 for three years.

To the following members, please note that your membership will expire this month, unless you have recently renewed it:

Julian Wayte


This club gear is available at no charge to members (a refundable deposit of the gear's approximate value may be required):

4-season tent
Bear Barrels
Alpine Axes*
Strap-on Crampons*
Hiking Boots
Climbing Shoes


Belay Devices

Belay Plate
Ice Tool
Ice Screws

Deadman Anchors

*Will require a signed waiver.

Non-members are not eligible to borrow club gear. Deposits taken on gear must be in the form of cash or check and will be returned upon return of equipment. Gear is also available to members for courses with no deposit required. If you have any questions or would like to inquire about club gear, please contact Dan Young.

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The Las Vegas Mountaineers meet on the 4th WEDNESDAY of the month at REI in Boca Park.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Horse Packing the Sierra
Maxine Hladky

Club member and lifelong equestrian Maxine Hladky will recount a five-day horse pack adventure that she and her (decidedly non-equestrian) husband enjoyed in the Mono Creek region of the eastern Sierra this summer.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SAR (Search & Rescue)
@LVMPD facility (NOT at REI)

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