Moapa Peak, Bridge Mountain
By: John Cheslick
This trip was originally scheduled as an official m-rated Sierra Club trip with Charlie Knapke leading and myself as the assistant. It turned out to be a private trip because the Safety Committee thought Bridge merited a restricted outing. Through a series of mishaps, the paperwork was never completed, so we contacted the participants and made the trip private.
Saturday, we met at the trailhead for Moapa. Our group consisted of Judy Hummerich, Linda Roman, Gary Craig, Charlie and myself. Judy was especially looking forward to this peak since it was the only peak she needed before her list finish planned for Bridge in November.
Moapa is a fun third class peak. It involves two sections of third class. The first section is about halfway up, climbing about 20 feet of easy third class ledges. The real fun starts near the summit when one needs to walk and climb along a narrow "knife-edge" ridge. The ridge walk is about 100 yards long and at times is very narrow.
However, there are numerous hand holds and the rock is very solid. Depending on your confidence level, you can almost walk the entire ridge without using your hands.
The most challenging part of our climb was not the third class but the weather. It was in the high 80's, and 90's most of the day. Charlie lead the group and kept a nice moderate pace to keep the group as cool as possible.
On the way down, Charlie twisted his ankle both near the top and then again near the cars. The first sprain was mild but the second one was more severe. Linda, an emergency room nurse, bandaged his ankle and we walked slowly back to the cars.
The ascent of Moapa took 4 hours and the return took 3 1/2hours.
Saturday evening we stopped off at the Rio Rio Casino for their world buffet before heading off to the Bridge Mountain trailhead. Judy left us after the climb of Moapa since she was saving Bridge for her list finish and she had a long ride back to San Diego.
There were also five participants for the Bridge Mountain climb. They were Gary, Linda and myself plus Neal Scott and Delores Holiday who joined the group the night before at our campsite. Charlie bowed out since his ankle was still sore. Gary lead this informal group since he had already climbed Bridge and knew the route.
We climbed Bridge Mountain from the west via Lovell Canyon Road. Greg Roach's prior trip write-up gives the details concerning mileage and directions. I can second Greg's comment that 4WD, high-clearance vehicles are needed for the drive from the campsite to the trailhead at Red Rock Summit. It is a challenging 2.8 mile drive and it may be easier just to hike this road instead of challenging the rocks and boulders that make this road an adventure.
Bridge Mountain is a beautiful climb. The approach is first along a trail through a juniper and pinyon pine forest up to a ridge where you catch your first glimpse of the peak and the route. From this ridge, the peak appears unclimbable at worst and a fifth class climb at best. However, once you are near the base of the climb the route appears doable.
The route description: Follow the trail over the ridge and down the other side to the end of the trail. At this point, the terrain changes from pinyon covered slopes to barren sandstone rock. Once on the sandstone, the route goes cross-country down to a saddle between Bridge Mountain and the ridge that was just climbed. At the base of the saddle, the route goes up the left most crack, about 150 feet and then left along a sloping ledge to the base of the natural rock bridge. We then climbed up and across the top of the bridge and then started heading for the summit. From here, it's a walk and scramble over the sandstone, along some more ledges and then a walk to the summit.
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