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Ascent of Stepp Mountain on 2003-03-19

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Stepp Mountain
    Location:USA-Texas
    Elevation:2574 ft / 784 m

Ascent Trip Report

Stepp Mountain is a part of an extensive complex of mesas that extend into neighboring Nolan and Coke Counties south of Colorado City. These are mesas in the truest sense: the tops are very flat, and the summits thereon are difficult to locate exactly.

I drove state route TX-208 south to the town of Silver, then a dirt road across the way from FM-1672. I followed this dirt road north a mile, then east a mile, then a road south, all on the McCabe Oil Field, so said the various signs. However, the roads were open for travel and there were no prohibitive signs.

At this last road heading south, I came to a crumple gate, signed as "Shenandoah Petroleum Corporation, Walker". I drove south a small way, then parked out of sight near an oil pump in a cleared area. I was directly north of Stepp Mountain.

I started walking uphill, and quickly, the gradients became very steep and rubbly. In a matter of minutes, I was below the caprock that lines the top of the mesa, forming a wall around the entire perimeter. The brush was thick, and I found myself on all fours to get through the thickest sections, all the while eyeballing some way up the caprock.

I was able to find cracks and weaknesses in the caprock that allowed for reasonably safe passage to the top. Once on top, I walked south through the flat terrain, the brush and trees limiting views to a few dozen yards at best.

Off in the distance, I saw a post of some sort, so I hiked to it. It was a 4x4 wooden lath, held up by simple guy wiring. Suspecting it was placed here by the surveyors, I searched the area for the benchmark, and after brushing away dirt and leaves off a likely rock, found the lovely little disk, stamped "Stapp" for some reason.

Is the disk the highest point? Perhaps not, but it was a tangible thing to tag. On the walk out, I meandered and deliberately sought out any hump, hummock or rockpile that might be a contending highpoint. In the process, I felt I gave the area good coverage.

Back to the caprock, I found a way down and into the brushy, steep slopes, then back to my truck. I was gone an hour total. Done with my trip, I began the long drive home. I spent the rest of today driving, getting as far as Lordsburg, New Mexico. A storm was coming in from the west and conditions deteriorated as I drove. I arrived back home the following day.

(The same mesa complex that includes Stepp Mountain also includes a mesa that is the highest point in neighboring Coke County. In fact, I drove right through the summit area. However, this top is so flat and so large, covering about a dozen square miles, that it would take a few hours to properly drive all the side roads and check out all the areas to properly claim a successful visit to this county highpoint.)
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:400 ft / 122 m
    Distance:1.5 mi / 2.4 km
    Trailhead:2174 ft / 662 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble



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