Ascent of Charleston Peak on 2017-05-16

Climber: Bradley Reese

Date:Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Peak:Charleston Peak
    Elevation:9676 ft / 2949 m

Ascent Trip Report

How I chose this peak: I was on a trip to Vegas and I was landing relatively early. Charleston Peak was nearby.

Parking: Placed "Cathedral Rock Trail, Mt Charleston, NV 89124" in google maps and followed.

The Plan: Land in Vegas around 10 AM local time, get a rental car and be at the trailhead by noon. Use the GPS route I had pre-loaded in my phone to follow the south loop trail. Return via the same route I went up.

The hike: I parked at 11:30 AM. I had planned to use the route I created on my GPS (via an online map showing the "trail"), so I followed this from the beginning. This was my first mistake, the trailhead had been just a few yards to the right of where I parked, I didn't look for it here, instead following gated off road and sidewalk to where the GPS showed a trail... there was no trail. I followed the GPS route up a gully where, in hind site, I must have been within a couple of yards of the trail multiple times. Eventually I do come out on the trail (1 mile total).

On the trail I immediately meet another hiker, she says she made it to the saddle, but there is no trail to follow due to ice. From here I follow the trail for a while crossing a bit of ice here and there. towards the end of this section I meet another group of hikers, they are just turning around due to the ice. I continue, but the trail is getting more difficult to follow. During this section there were multiple switchbacks.. none of these appeared on my GPS route. I also put yak-trax (the only traction gear I had) on during this section to better grip the ice. (2.4 miles total)

I lost the trail due to the ice and tried to reach what my GPS had as the route, which appeared to be at the ridge. I started climbing, the hill became steeper, and at some point I said this isn't safe anymore. During this section my trekking poles broke, both of them, pretty much beyond use (I had purchased a cheap pair for the trip in case TSA took them, they were definitely cheap). Realizing I wasn't safe to continue going up I looked back and realized I didn't feel safe descending how I'd came up in the ice. I decided I would try to descend in the direction I felt most comfortable, mostly using trees and limbs to keep my balance. Unfortunately in many sections the trees were spaced where I had nothing to hold to, in these section I would sit and slide to the next group. After doing this a couple of times and observing what was around me I see the trail again (way off from the GPS route), but not where I'd came up from. I decide to meet the trail here. This takes several more slides, a couple of which are out of control and jarred my legs pretty badly. I'm happy to be back on the trail. I should have turned around before starting this section. (2.6 miles total)

Back on the trail I decide to follow it as long as it will last without being covered in ice. I reach what will be my turnaround at 3.1 miles of hiking. This is just under 9,700 feet of elevation. (3.1 miles).

On the return I stay on trail, the only difficulty was where the ice had been earlier, crossing this even without climbing like I had done on the way in was still quite uncomfortable. Finishing the hike this is when I learned I had been so close to the trailhead when I parked. Should have looked around instead of following the GPS route. (5.9 miles total)

The views on the south loop were amazing. Rock walls hundreds of feet tall on both sides at points, rugged ridges, and desert all visible from the trail. Amazing.

Lessons learned:
- Turn around if I don't have the proper gear (2nd time I've learned this lesson now)
- Trust the GPS route less or none (this is the 2nd time recently it's had major issues, previously it'd gained my trust over many hikes)
- Cheap trekking poles are cheap... have good gear

I hope to get another opportunity at this peak in the future.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2018 ft / 615 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2018 ft / 615 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.9 mi / 9.5 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2018 ft / 615 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.9 km
    Route:South Loop
    Start Trailhead:7658 ft / 2334 m
    Time:2 Hours 36 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2018 ft / 615 m
    Distance:2.9 mi / 4.6 km
    Route:South Loop
    End Trailhead:7658 ft / 2334 m
    Time:2 Hours 18 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley Reese
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

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