Ascent of Star Peak on 2014-06-30

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Monday, June 30, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Star Peak
    Elevation:9836 ft / 2998 m

Ascent Trip Report

Did this from the NW, Black Canyon, and on the way back found a gorgeous quarter mile scrambly arete and a descent via an old mine road - five star circuit on Star Peak.

We climbed Star the day after Pilot Peak. We'd overnighted at Elko with Laura Newman and family and at her suggestion we bagged a couple of drive-ups on the way: Elko Mountain and Mount Lewis. Hence Star was an afternoon ascent. We chose Petter Bjorstad's Black Canyon approach as it was potentially a higher trailhead for our Toyota Corolla, although an offtrail hike.

We leave the I-80 at jct 138 and drive south on the parallel road, turning east on what is now a quite neglected looking gravel road, with a berm left by the grader on the main road requiring care even entering the side road, in a standard car. The road is reasonable for about 3 miles, with a few rougher sections needing care in the Corolla. The next mile is fairly rough, loose and steep and we eventually come to a halt at N40.54200 W118.21028, 1884m, just short of a left fork to a rough old mine road (which turns out to be our descent route). We are unable to turn round but leave the car to one side so that other vehicles can pass (apparently one does). Others trying this approach with a standard clearance car might consider parking soon after mile 3: there are two good spots; or a smooth spot at 3.5ish (? N40.54427 W118.22164) where it's possible to make a multi point turn and possibly wide enough to park.

We start hiking at 1pm: although around 85F there's a breeze and it doesn't feel too bad. From the road end the first traverse section is sage brush: not too dense but interspersed with a grass whose sharp seeds are soon embedded in our shoes and socks - boots and gaiters might help if you can stand the heat in them. Reaching the first re-entrant we head up (some thorny bushes) into the narrower rocky gully, climbing on mostly stable talus with a couple of bushy stretches. Where the gully narrow higher up we scrambled up R (YDS3) on nice rock then followed the discontinuous ridge with several towers and bits of crest which can be scrambled or avoided on brushy slopes. This section is quite nice with good rugged scenery. Beyond, we ascend R through sage brush just above the uppermost of two cairned outcrops. Crossing the spur here we climb more directly than Petter's description, avoiding the brush, reaching an old road immediately R of an abandoned mine working.

From here the route up is easy and pleasant. We follow the old mine road contouring south then transfer to a jeep road climbing the ridge past the tall comms mast to the summit, which is marked by a trig plaque N40.52243 W118.17077 (3003m) in a small windshelter cairn next to a small comms installation. Very fine scenery. We're up in 2h46 and 26 mins later, after the usual photos and studying and signing the register, we head back north along the ridge. After an easy jog to the col we make the easy ascent to the North Peak. We were planning to descend from here (approx the route Petter ascended) but absorbed by the ridge we continue north, enjoying a wonderful narrow scrambly arete, fairly exposed, YDS2+ and YDS3 throughout. The rock is mostly excellent but it should be borne in mind that occasionally the handrail might come off in one's hand... NB all can be bypassed on L side if preferred. We bypass the final more scrappy section, reaching a nice rocky summit (N40.54787 W118.18089, 9298ft, P201ft prominence from spot heights) where Alan surprises me with his cairn building skills.

The descent is the other nice surprise of the day. We descend the easy W spur to a saddle. Here we find an old road descending L. Very rough but better than the sage brush. Lower down there are relics of old mining equipment and some old/ruined buildings. Looking at our upward GPS track my guess/hope is that we're in the upper reaches of Black Canyon and our track will come out at the fork just above where we've left the car, and so it does - excellent! 50 mins descent, 5h09 round trip: not too bad considering the scrambling and the time I've spent taking photos on this very scenic circuit.

The last task we've not been looking forward to - extracting the car. With Alan reversing and me directing, we find a turning spot about a quarter mile down, as mentioned above - may have been at N40.54427 W118.22164.

Next into Winnemucca for a meal (first Chinese of the trip) then we start our journey north to Mount Hood which we hope to climb in one day's time, conditions permitting.

Star Peak photo album
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3787 ft / 1154 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3787 ft / 1154 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.3 mi / 13.4 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 2 (arete YDS3 )
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3721 ft / 1134 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3655 ft / 1115 m; Extra: 66 ft / 20m
    Loss on way in:66 ft / 20 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Start Trailhead:Black Canyon  6181 ft / 1883 m
    Time:2 Hours 46 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3721 ft / 1134 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 3655 ft / 1115 m; Extra: 66 ft / 20m
    Gain on way out:66 ft / 20 m
    Distance:5.3 mi / 8.5 km
    End Trailhead:Black Canyon  6181 ft / 1883 m
    Time:1 Hours 56 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

This page has been served 2270 times since 2005-01-15.

Copyright © 1987-2020 by All Rights Reserved. Questions/Comments/Corrections? See the Contact Page Terms of Service