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Ascent of McKenzie Mountains on 2001-03-13

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Tuesday, March 13, 2001
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:McKenzie Mountains
    Location:USA-Texas
    Elevation:2830 ft / 862 m

Ascent Trip Report

The highpoint of Kent County is a pair of mesas called the McKenzie Mountains in the southwest part of the county. From the junction of US-84 and FM-1142 about 8 miles northwest of Snyder, I followed FM-1142 north to a point where the road curved west, about 10 miles from the junction. At this bend is a dirt road continuing north, labeled Kent County Road 316. The McKenzie Mountains are visible from miles along this last road.

This being Texas, I was fully expecting these mesas to be fenced with hundreds of "No Trespassing" signs everywhere, but I was surprised to see no restrictive signs. The landowners must have forgotten to put them up. On top of that, these mesas looked like a genuine challenge. I put on my boots, grabbed some water and my sight-level and started in. Of the two distinct mesas, the eastern one is larger and contains a spot elevation of 2,830 feet, while the western one has a spot elevation of 2,823 feet. I chose to climb the eastern mesa first and sight over to the west to see if I'd need to bother climbing that one.

There is no trail to the top, except for game paths. The mesas are topped by a caprock that forms short cliffs. It appeared the best option was to climb toward the saddle between the two mesas, where there appeared to be more weaknesses in the caprock. The hike was short but strenuous, and slippery due to the rubble. I followed drainages and achieved a ridge and soon, found a spot in the caprock that I breached. I continued along the top of the mesa to the highest area, covered with numerous trees. I sighted to the western mesa and it was clear that I was higher where I was. However, on this same mesa is another rise to the east that was inconclusive upon sight-leveling, so I walked over to it anyway to ensure my successful ascent.

Hiking down, I made a minor error in judgement: I failed to note where I entered through the caprock and found myself hemmed in by these cliffs. I eventually found a way down, but I should have noted my route on the way up in the first place. I was back to my truck, and the total hike was about a shade over an hour.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:1.5 mi / 2.4 km
    Trailhead:2530 ft / 771 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Scramble



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