Mormon Peak Exploratory
By: Steve Smith, Fred Camphausen
Campy and I had attempted to lead this peak a year earlier but had not. reached the summit since the last 7 miles of road into the starting point had been too allusive and had only made it about half way to the top. We were impressed by the area's natural features and looked forward to visiting the area again.
This year, we set up a more leisurely trip to enjoy the area by using Saturday for driving to the roadhead and camping in the cove on the north side of the peak. Boy Magnuson came along to prepare for keeping his list completion intact in the event Mormon is added to the list after our upcoming vote. We were also joined by Judy Oar and Bill West from St. George, Tom Shaffer from Rosemond, and Bob Greer from Las Vegas.
The 18 mile drive in along the Union Pacific railroad tracks went fine and we had just headed in on the final seven mile leg when Roy's low clearance car scraped a rock at a venerable point can caused a thin cut near the plug. By hammering over the cut, we slowed the oil leak sufficiently so that Roy was able to drive it back to Las Vegas for repairs on Monday.
After transferring Roy to Tom's vehicle, we got to the roadhead at 4,000' at the prospect shown on the Rox NE 7.5 map and had a leisurely evening group campfire. The climb Sunday went fine and we followed the ridgeline starting to the south of our campsite directly to the peak. At 5,000', we checked out the military plane crash we had seen the year before but this year did not see any Bighorn sheep along the ridge as we had a year earlier. We contoured round three ridge bumps before going up the final 1,500' of a prominent ridge to the summit.
The views are impressive with Lake Mead and Moapa Peak visible to the south and Hayford to the west. Some rugged ridgelines and the pinyon forest across the top of the range makes for a scenic area. Going down, we dropped into the canyon on the north side of the ridgeline for a variation and it is easier than contouring around the bumps along the lower ridgeline. The canyon bottom went fine although at two points there are steep faces where you have to detour into nice chutes to climb down.
We found another portion of the plane crash in the canyon bottom at 4,800' and it was interesting to check out the array of scattered remains. We were back to the vehicles around 4:00p.m. Our group felt the peak was worthy of list addition plus the area has displays of great natural features which makes for an interesting area to visit. By the time we drove the 7 miles out to the railroad tracks, it was dark. With Roy in the lead, we got to a point where the road crosses the tracks and we were blocked by an idling train.
It was an interesting experience to see the lights of a long freight train sitting there waiting for another train to pass. With our vehicles as far away from the tracks as we could get, a fast moving freight train came by - nobody was sleepy after that.
I was interested in seeing the rest of the area to the north so the next day I went back and followed the road along the tracks. After the Mormon road turnoff, the road continues another 50 miles through Meadow Valley. Following the tracks past the railroad maintenance sites at Carp and Elgin, the road ends at the town of Caliente, about 70 miles west of Cedar City, Utah. A scenic canyon, its a nice 70 mile tour through a remote part of southeast Nevada.
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