Moapa Peak In The Nevada Mormon Mountains

  • Updated: November 19, 2017
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

November 19th, 2017
Moapa Peak (6,471')
7.1 miles, 3,500'

Yesterday we climbed nearby Muddy Peak and camped along the road out through Buffington Pockets.  Today our goal was another nearby desert classic Moapa Peak.

Moapa is also on the Sierra Club Desert Peaks Section list and is notorious for its knife edge summit ridge.  It's also one of the best on the list in my experience and makes for a great combo with Muddy for a weekend of scramble peaks.

We woke everyone up just before sunrise and quickly loaded up the vehicles.  We had people meeting us at the Moapa trailhead and used the allure of the gas station coffee / non cactus choked bathrooms to get things moving.

Unfortunately one of the vehicles had been left in accessory mode to charge some electronics for just a bit too long the night before and wouldn't start.  Fortunately Kristen and I had just replaced the jump starter box we like to carry and this proved to be the perfect opportunity to test it.  These things are highly recommended for these remote trailheads.

After a quick stop at the gas station for passable coffee and pretty awful donuts we jumped on the 15 headed north exiting at Carp Elgin.

The dirt road drive was trivial compared with the day before though you do have a few sandy spots along the way.  I remembered scraping when driving my Rav4 last time loaded up with 4 people plus gear but I think I could have gotten Kristen's Subaru Forester back here with some care.

We met Peter and Sandy Laura at the trailhead which they'd managed to make in their truck camper and we were hiking by 8:40 am.

The road continues past where we parked crossing the berm before turning west and then petering out.  So we could have driven a short distance closer but the trailhead sign can be found where we stopped.

From there we aimed cross country at canyon just west of the prominent ridge coming off the peak.

Once in the canyon it's slower going and eventually swings to the west and gains a saddle.

Now it gets fun. From here we scrambled up some pay attention level 3rd class towards the upper ledges.

We found the questionable anchor building folks from Muddy had been here as well as there was a slightly loose boulder with black webbing slung and extended towards the climb.

From here the route follows ledges up and across the south face of the mountain to gain the ridge east of the summit.

There was a clear use trail across the ledges but things got a little less distinct once we started climbing.

The eastern route we took up was a little more solid and had some fun 3rd class bits.  The western descent we used after following a use trail that ran along that ledge but then petered out suddenly around where we descended.

Once on the ridge we could finally see the main attraction.

The fun part starts on the northern side of the ridge where a grippy 3rd class ramp lets you access the top.

This was the first part that makes people slightly nervous since you have to either straddle the ridge or walk along the side over a slightly large drop.  As with Muddy the rock is so grippy you're not really not going to go anywhere short of flinging yourself off into the void but it can be a bit unnerving for people.

Fortunately we were on hand to document everything sufficiently...

From there it's more straightforward.  Sometimes you're walking along the narrow -ish ridge and sometimes there's room to walk to the side.

As I mentioned it's perfectly grippy and stable...

The registered showed someone had been up here just the day before and it's visited a lot more often than Muddy no doubt in part due to the easier approach.

The big peak behind Moapa is Mormon Peak which I've also climbed back in 2013.  I'd show a picture here except we were apparently so busy taking pictures of the ridge and the view out towards Bangs and Virgin that we didn't get a single one of the big mountain behind us.

We left the summit around 2 pm well aware we only had a few more hours of daylight.

We got down off the 3rd class bits just as the sun was going down.

Once out of the canyon we made great time and we made it back to the cars at 6 pm.

Peter and Sandy were planning to climb Virgin the next day but the rest of us had to make the long drive back to OC.  In Kristen and I's case we were doing this for only 48 hours before we'd be back out this way for this years Utah based Turktacular trip.

Lacking time we skipped our usual Vegas area favorite mexican food stops and did the always reliable Mad Greek in Barstow.

The food was fine, the lights were garishly brutal that late at night, and we managed to entertain the entire group by ordering a cup of greek coffee and trying to decide how to best describe the aroma, flavor, and texture.

We made it back to OC around 1:30 am.

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