Corkscrew Peak & Little Corkscrew Death Valley For Paul Garry's DPS List Finish

  • Updated: November 01, 2014
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

November 1st, 2014

I'd done Corkscrew peak waaaaaay back in 2010 to flesh out a multiple day M-Rock provisional.  It had always stood out among desert peaks as one of those that just look awesome from a distance and are pleasant to climb.  If you've ever driven over Daybreak Pass you've probably noticed Corkscrew due to it's distinctive summit.

I was here to do it again because Paul Garry's Desert Peak Section List Finish meaning he'd climbed all 99 (-ish) peaks on the list.  In Sierra Club land this is an excuse for a summit party (not that we really need that much of an excuse...)
The weather forecast looked interesting going into the weekend with 70% chance of rain Friday and 50% saturday turning into just cool and windy later on during the day.

We left Orange County at 8:30 pm dragging out feet due to reports of bad traffic along the 91 / 15.

Paul had arranged an open campsite at Furnace Creek but we knew we probably weren't going to make it.  Around midnight we were driving up the 127 south of Shoshone and decided to pull over for the night.

We found a dirt track and followed it a short distance off the road to an obviously well used campspot somewhat protected by surrounding hills.

The wind was blowing hard enough we put up the tent only to have it blowing us all around the entire night. We decided not to bother with the fly only to have it start raining about 3 am. Doh.

We were up pre dawn, packed up the jeep, and were off

This being Kristen's first trip through Death Valley proper we got her the traditional sea level sign picture.  She just happen to have it in the dark.

Campsite at Furnace Creek
We pulled into the Furnace Creek campground and met up with the others before carpooling over to the trailhead.

Corkscrew while approaching the pass from Death Valley
Gathering at TH1
We had quite the turnout.  List finishes are always a big draw and it's fun to catch up with folks you haven't seen in a while.

Due to the size we split up into two groups.  Paul led the TH1 group while Tina Bowman took our slightly smaller cadre up from TH2.

This is TH2

It's an easy -ish hike just straight across the desert.

It gets a little looser when you hit the rocks but it's not bad.  There's a use trail the entire way.

Looking back out at Badwater.  Telescope Peak is the high point in the background
Corkscrew on approach

Tina set a brisk pace and our smaller group managed to beat the other group to the summit by a short while.  As a result we ended up waiting right under the summit trying to stay out of the wind.

Right below the summit of Corkscrew
The DPS List Finish flag
I didn't get a shot of Paul holding the list finish sign because there was a huge crowd taking those and I was busy helping prevent the nice people who had brought champagne and other libations from having to hike it out.

Not me but I did help drink the contents of the bottle

Most of the group went back down the trail and headed to camp but a few of us set off to climb Little Corkscrew.  It's not on the list it's just an interesting little bump off to the side on the way down.

Once you leave the trail it gets significantly looser.

Some of our group were not as experienced (scarred?) with desert shit chutes and really didn't enjoy themselves.

Little Corkscrew
Little Corkscrew is high 2nd class low 3rd but the biggest challenge is just avoiding the loose stuff.

Kristen following me up the nearer of the two high points
Looking across at the other high point
It took a few tries to find a way up to the closer of the two high points.  At which point we looked over at the other highpoint and had a lively debate about which one looked higher.  Then we climbed the other one just to be sure.

West side of Little Corkscrew
Descending from Little Corkscrew

We followed the trail a short distance and then just set off across the desert floor.

Corkscrew from below
Corkscrew from the trailhead

Once down we joined everyone back at the campsite for a potluck and more socializing.  We also watched a few storms hitting the local mountains and were thankful we'd finished early.

We stayed until a few hours after dark at which point Jen, Kristen, and myself left to camp at Deadman Summit so we could do Brown Peak on Sunday.

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