BRIDGE MOUNTAIN (6,460') AND CLARK MOUNTAIN (7,904') 4X, AND A DRIVE ALONG U.S. 395 May 4-7, 2001

Seeking to force the issue with my aging car, I sought to drive it to a long distance, so if there was a worsened problem, I could then have it diagnosed and fixed, with then better performance and no more worry. The chance came up with this Desert Peaks Section Old Timers' activity to do Bridge Mountain in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

I met a carpooler in Barstow, CA, then we motored in her heavy truck to the Blue Diamond Exit on Interstate 15 just on the southern edge of Las Vegas, NV. We obtained groceries at a new supermarket near there, then took Highway 160 to Lovell Canyon Road. We found the 4WD approach road and a primitive campsite with others of our group there already. We set up lawn chairs and chatted. It was seen to be a beautiful weekend!

With our trucks nestled amid pinyon-juniper forests, I laid out my cheap sleeping bag and pad under a tree, and slept soundly.

The group arrived throughout the night and morning, then at 6 a.m., we began to organize the 4WD carpools. We took two ladies, and then we carefully motored up this atrocious road, with its 10" high rocks, and narrow, twisting track.

Coming to Red Rock Summit, we had room to park, and the 29 of us packed up and set out on the fine trail by 7:08 a.m. We climbed steadily to the top of a ridge, and caught the first view of the peak. At this point, you are about as high as the summit of Bridge Mountain. The route looks impossible, but that is from this perspective. It is easy class 3 climbing.

Dropping down, then following ducks and spray-painted signs, we gained dramatic views of the vertical topography. The sandstone rock allowed for a few pine trees, and nice hiking. The saddle is about a thousand feet lower, so we rested there before attempting the summit mass proper.

A easy gully/crack leads upward to ramps and ledges about 200' feet up. Following around to the left, there is easy climbing, mostly class 2 with short, step sections. Then we came to the natural bridge. This is a great photo op.

We crossed the bridge, over to more steps, and then over the top of sandstone hills, to see the hidden forest. A etched wall provides the route, headed diagonally upward to the left. Again, it "looks" difficult, but is a piece of cake.

Finishing this, you are at the summit. Las Vegas appears to the east, with the late morning sun highlighting the street grids. The high rises of the Strip certainly stand out. Distant Lake Mead reflected the high sun. This was glorious!

I drank water and enjoyed the breeze, whenever it came up. It was T-shirt weather, and we rested on our success. Other hikers took in the views with us. Some said to be the Las Vegas Mountaineers.

I urged a group shot, so I enjoined our group to stand about the highpoint, and wave as I shot a couple Quick Time movie clips. I took more photos, and pictures with other climbers' cameras. It is really too bad that download times are so long for even short .mov files.

We began back and clambered down our same route. With plenty of time, we slowly and safely climbed downward, with me snapping more photos. It is great to have such excellent route-finders as leaders and as participants.

We picked up one inexperienced person, then down to the low saddle, and scrambled upward over the intermediary ridge. With the sun now at the west, the summit mass made a scenic backdrop with a clearer view of the Strip casinos behind it.

At the top of the ridge, we saw our trucks below in the distance. The trail here leads back quickly, and we were all back by 3:02 p.m. Downhill is easier going on the 4WD road, and we came back to our carcamp by 3:50 p.m.

The tables and chairs were set out, and heaps of colorful and sumptuous foods were placed out. No survival food on a DPS trip! Fresh salads, fruits, chips and dips, with a carved chicken, and even mixed drinks with a blender were available!

I declined to eat much, since I had been carbo-loading before the weekend. I finished a bottle of diet soda, and munched on my rippled chips.

No campfire was allowed due to fire conditions, but some said other camp groups along this road had them. We circled lawn chairs, and with a nearly full moon, managed to bring some conviviality into this night.

The next morning, a pancake breakfast was prepared. Then some motored off to go home early, or to climb another peak. Some of us met near Mountain Pass to take the dirt road to a BLM campground high in the range there. Clark Mountain is the highest peak in the Mojave Desert here, and gets plenty of snow, even.

Starting at 9:58 a.m., our unofficial group took a faint use trail up about 1,700' to the base of a long rock wall. A break in these cliffs provides a short class 3 climb to easy ground and a use trail above. The summit is a half hour hike from the top of the exposed part.

We topped out at 12:04 p.m. and, my digital camera low on battery power, was used for only a few more shots. I have climbed this peak now for four ascents, so have plenty of photos of the view. It was a bit hazy today.

Negotiating the class 3 downclimbing, we came back to the trucks by 2:30 p.m., and we two motored off for food at Baker, CA ("world's largest thermometer" read "99" degrees). Caught in traffic, we finally came back to Barstow, and parted ways.

I motored west on Highway 58 to turn north on U.S. 395. Staying in Ridgecrest, CA, I continued north Monday on 395 to gain views of the High Sierra for the next couple hundred miles. I shot plenty of photos for a record. The snow coverage varies greatly from season to season.

Taking Highway 88, I enjoyed the clouds about Carson Pass, and came home to e-mail movies (336 KB, 0:02, 320 x 240 pixels) and thanks to all to make this such a fine trip for this little old peak climber me and my car!