Mount Charleston

4 Jul 1996 - by Rich Calliger

Being somewhat bored of trying to get up Mnt Williamson from George Creek (Yes Tony, please sign me up next spring. I want to go again- we should take 5 days and not return until we do that route even if it storms on us (a little) !!)

I instead went sado-masochistically solo to Death valley (well, not really solo, I took 25 gals of water plus a 4WD as company) July 3-9th.

After temps as high as 121 and 95 at 4 AM I abandoned the attempts at any peaks and scooted over to I15 and the Spring Mountain Area & the other wilderness areas northwest of Las Vegas.

Being totally fried by the heat I assumed not too many people would be at Mnt Charleston, being a relatively minor peak but in a gorgeous desert setting (11500 and change.)

Amid some remaining snow pack (Yes!) there were several 6' deep patchs several hundred yards long on the north slope. Amazing considering that the valley floor temps reached 110 deg that day. Slogging up to the summit took about 5 hrs from the 6500 foot trailhead. The ice axe and crampons proved to be dead weight but worked well to hold the tent down during some medium breezes when a small low pressure area came in Sat.

I spent 2 days camped out near the summit watching all the gaudy lights and a fireworks near LV (awesome in firepower, dollars per bang and sheer tenacity of gaudiness) as well as spectactular desert views as wells as quite clear sunrises and sunsets.

Various minor trails afforded some relaxing waterfall time from the moderate runnoff still occuring. The juxtaposition of 100+ floor temps plus 65 deg temps at altitude afforded a very relaxing atmosphere. The "holiday hordes" were not present altought I estimate I saw 20-30 people at lower elevations. From this point of view it was a successful trip!

The area here was a little different than the Sierra but I would not recommend going out of your way to see it...there was nothing special of note.. just a little solitude and a few high waterfalls you could actually sit nearby, enjoy and hold a nice conversation and get a little occassional spray to keep cool.


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