Cathedral Peak In Meadow Valley Mountains

  • Updated: November 19, 2012
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

  Cathedral Peak (5,775')
   J. J. Freakel Peak (5,681')
When:  November 18th, 2012
Where:  Nevada north of Las Vegas
Who:  Matthew Hengst, Rod Kieffer, Anne Kircher, Laurent Hoffman, Phil Bates
PicturesMatt's Flickr
GPS TrackTrack

We spent the night west of Alamo at our trail head for East Pahranagat after the previous day stroll up two relatively minor range high points. Today it was time to head south and climb the peaks that had originally brought us out this way called Cathedral and a rather striking unnamed neighboring bump.

As a side note if you need anything in the vicinity of Alamo the Sinclair station is a gas station / grocery store / deli and has decent bathrooms. Gas was also about 60 cents cheaper than what we paid along the 15 in California.

From Alamo we drove south along the 93 to Kane Springs Road which is dirt but extremely well graded.  We followed this for a ways and soon could make out Cathedral ahead of us.

There's no obvious sign or parking area so we just stopped as near as we could to the drainage we intended to climb. 
The approach was a simple stroll across the desert floor aiming for the obvious drainage between Cathedral & point 5678.

The most interesting feature of the approach was the huge debris field near the mouth of the canyon. We'd actually been able to make out some of the debris from the car and once we got close we came across numerous pieces big and small.

Once in the canyon we went straight back and followed the prominent left branch at 4200'.

At about 4400' we decided to climb out of the drainage and over a shoulder sticking out of the right side of the canyon since it looked promising.

This nearly cost us a frustrating backtrack as we soon found ourselves high on the canyon wall with no apparent way forward or back into the canyon.

After some exploration we found a way  forward along the ledges that eventually turned into steep loose slopes and with a bit of grumbling we reached the saddle at between Cathedral & point 5678.

Here we dropped packs and went for the summit of the unnamed bump first (just in case anyone was tired later and might have balk at adding the unnamed unlisted peak).

It was a straightforward scramble with some very light 3rd class and we soon found ourselves on the summit.

It turned out someone had named this peak as there was a register placed by the Las Vegas Mountaineering Club calling the peak J J Freak "E"

(Note Peakbagger has a trip report by the same people and lists the name as J. J. Freakel and I'm sticking with that )

Cathedral was beckoning us in the distance so we quickly retraced our steps to our packs and headed up the ridge in the opposite direction.

The climb from the saddle to the summit block was straightforward series of crisscrossing ledges with some light scrambling here and there. We dragged our packs along since we'd seen a chute between the north & south summits of Cathedral and thought maybe we'd be able to drop down between them and avoid backtracking.

Arriving at the summit block we found two obvious routes.  Looking at the picture the easy route is in the crease near the left side while there was a rather more exposed option up the arete on the right.  
We took the easier way.  The rock is good solid volcanic stone that's easy to grip and fairly stable.  The last bit required an easy chimney or spanning move.

Looking back at J J Freakel
While I'd hoped to continue over the northern side and make our way down a prominent chute we couldn't see anything that looked like it was going to go.  So reluctantly we retraced our steps back down to the saddle and headed down.

Instead of retracing our path down the canyon wall I was curious if there was a more heavily trodden route down the main chute.  This turned out to be easier and had a number of ducks though the view wasn't quite as good as our ascent path.

(Note that the southern chutes seemed to lead to cliffs every time I checked them so unless you're aiming for our ledges high up on the canyon wall stick to the bottom of the northern chute.)

We had some brief sections of scree and a little light rock scrambling on the way down but found a series of ducks .

The two high points on the left are Cathedral with the one on the right being the actual peak and the range high point.  

Sadly (for me anyway) we were back at the cars before well before dark.

While we made all four peaks I'd had planned I would have liked to hike nearby Sunflower Mountain as it was a distinct looking bump that really stood out from the surrounding mountains but alas that would have to wait for another day.

We stopped in Vegas for the traditional post trip Mexican food and headed for home.  It felt weird getting back before midnight.

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