Jumbo and Mica South of Lake Mead

  • Updated: October 27, 2013
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

  Jumbo Peak (5,761')
  Mica Peak (5,758')
When: October 27nd, 2013
Where: Near Lake Mead, NV
Who: Matthew Hengst, Jeff Atijera
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

After the previous days successful climb of Mormon Peak ended a bit early when we couldn't find a way to traverse to a nearby bonus peak set off further east along the 15.  A quick refueling stop in Mesquite later we started down the long bumpy road to Whitney Pockets and beyond.

The main draw for the entire weekend was Jumbo Peak, a short low 5th class peak near Lake Mead I'd heard about from Harlan Stockman and others.  And as long as we were out there we planned to grab the nearby bonus peak named Mica.

A hours later we were still bumping along down an annoyingly washboardy road watching a rather pretty sunset lighting up peaks across the border in Arizona.

Eventually this road took us past the easy to miss ruins of Gold Butte and we started eyeing roads dropping to the south.  The Garmin GPS maps had a spiderweb of roads (not usual for the desert) but several on the way in either didn't exist in the maps or in reality.

Looks like our sort of party...
We went further than we had to following some GPS waypoints I'd set at home.  In actuality almost any of the roads would have worked with the exception of the ones maps show running over the saddle between Mica and Gold Butte.  That only connects on the Jumbo Canyon side.

We only hit one dead end which was at the marking for Guzzler.  This would have made for a decent group camp complete with campfire rings.

Eventually we came to the end of the road near Jumbo.  In violation of one of the basic desert assumptions there actually wasn't a campsite at the end of the road!  There was a small loop and barely room amid the bushes to park.

We backtracked down the road a bit to a fairly flat spot and set up camp.

I had my desert washbin firepit along and soon we had a respectable fire going and turned to cooking dinner.

A few beers later things might have gotten slightly weird...

We also had some rather vociferous cows wandering around in the darkness.  Ah the desert.

We woke up the next morning with a clear view of Jumbo just up the hillside.

There was a rather unpleasant amount of spiky vegetation up near the ridge though we had bigger encounters with it on the way out.  (I think you're probably better off climbing the far side of the drainage to the north and walking the ridge)

Eventually we reached the north side of the summit block and found a rather prominent looking crack that we recognized from others pictures.

It was a bit of a tight squeeze in a few places.

If you go all the way back you can then get on top of a chockstone and climb up to a middle level.  If you get too ancy and climb a bit early there's a slightly punishing chimney you can do.

Crossing the chocks led out on a fair sized ledge and a walk up crack leading up to the real crux.

Yea.  Exposed, unfortunate amounts of lichen, and lacking exactly one handhold you'd really like to have on the crux move.  And there's no real way to protect it until someone does it.  And the fall would be nasty.

In the end we ended up putting a catastrophic belay on Jeff from a spot wedged around the corner of the traverse and he did the move.

I followed Jeff up and we signed in to the Colorado Mountain Club register and enjoyed the views of Mead off in the distance before setting about how we were going to get down.  Reversing the friction move wasn't something either of us wanted to do.

We only found one really good option and that was this horn.

It's actually solid and attached if you look at it in person.  I was glad I'd hauled my full 60m rope up as that got us to the ground in one go.  The 30m wouldn't have worked.

Here we had a bit of a mishap.

A common safety practice when you're rappelling is to tie knots into the end of the rope before you throw them down just in case something goes wrong and you inadvertently run off one or both strands.

I'd done this when I threw the rope down but hadn't noticed one of the knotted ends falling behind a constriction between two boulders.

Jeff went down first only to get maybe 20 feet of the ground and get caught up.  The knot behind the boulder was holding that line out and effectively applying a brake.  The rappel was awkward enough due to the crack he hadn't noticed until he was stuck.

The common solution in a case like this is to use prussiks to ascend the rope but he didn't have any on his harness.

I had several but from where I was up top I couldn't see Jeff and I couldn't send gear down the rope because he had gone over an overhang.

After establishing what was going on I put a pussik from the anchor to the loose strand and had Jeff tie a figure eight knot in the same strand below his rappel device.  He was able to stand in this and with a little awkward assist from the rock was able to unweight the other strand enough where I could get a tie off knot into the anchor.  Jeff was then able to carefully transition to a single strand rappel on the loose strand and get down.

 Moral of the story, always carry your prussiks!

I rappelled down without incident thought it is awkward as you drop down into the tight crack 

We dropped down directly from the summit block along something that at first looked promising and then turned into this...

Let's play a new game called Where's Jeff.  It's like Where's Waldo with a lot more thorns...
Whee.  We emerged later minus a little blood but now looking like we'd had a true adventure.

Jumbo had taken a while but I still wanted to get Mica as long as we were out there.  A short drive later we parked in the saddle between Mica and Gold Butte and set off up a nondescript ridge towards a bump we probably wouldn't have picked to climb if it hadn't had a name on the map.

Hey look, I think it's a duck...

The climb was uneventful other than for the strong wind.  There was a bit of rock hopping here and there and a few false summits before we came to the top. 

Jumbo had had a register inside a small PVC tube.  Apparently that was the last small they'd had in the store...

Yea, the little one came from inside the big one.  Maybe it was placed by the Amazon packaging department...

The descent went quickly.  We'd debated doing the also named Gold Butte Peak on the other side of the saddle but the sight of an old road (that didn't look Jeep passable) heading up there kind of killed our interest.

Soon we were back in the jeep bumping along the *50* miles back to the 15.

At least some of it was paved.  And the sunset was pretty.

Unfortunately that wasn't the end of the weekend.  We cruised through Vegas and all the way to Baker making great time looking like we'd actually make it home before midnight for once.  And then...

5.5 *hours* later we'd traveled 13 miles and come out the far side.

On the plus side I was able to get breakfast on the way home instead of having to get back out of bed...

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