Ascent of King Mountain on 2002-03-10

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Sunday, March 10, 2002
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:King Mountain
    Elevation:3141 ft / 957 m

Ascent Trip Report

The highpoints of Upton County is a tie between two mesas, called King and Castle Mountains. Both contain spot elevations of 3,141 feet. King Peak is home to a FAA radar dome.

From the city of Crane, I proceeded south on US-385 to Castle Gap Road, then east aiming for a gap between the two mesas. However, I came to a locked gate a few miles short of the goal, and too far out to walk. So I retreated back to the highway.

I drove north to Ma Earp Road, then east and south, arriving at a ranch property below King Mountain. I could see the FAA dome from the road. There were people in the area, so I parked at the gate, hopped it and walked in to greet them.

An older gentleman was hitching his cattle trailer to his truck when I caught his attention. I introduced myself, showed him my map and explained what I wanted to do. At first he seemed skeptical, but after a few minutes he warmed to me and granted me permission. He introduced himself as Mr. Sanders. As thanks, I helped load some items into his truck.

He opened the gate for me and allowed me to drive the FAA access road to King Mountain's flat top, almost near the FAA facility. He drove with me in his own truck, planning to locate some of his cattle. He explained that the FAA facility is actually on another guy's land, but he didn't mind me walking to it. He also gave me information on the roads to Castle Mountain, including the combination to the gate so I could let myself out. Here, we parted, he on his way to find his lost cattle.

I parked short of the radar dome and walked the perimeter. I kept my visit short. I found what looked like a kicked-over cairn, but didn't linger. Back to my truck, I exited down the mesa, then along ranch roads a mile or two to locate myself below Castle Mountain. A couple hunters were sitting around having a lunch. They didn't seem to mind me being there.

The hike to the top of Castle Mountain was short but strenuous. I barged directly up the slopes to the base of a small cliff band, then scampered through a weakness to attain the flat top. I walked the top for about 20 minutes in a cross-hatch pattern, forced by the lay of the land to complete this one "statistically". The brush is too thick and the land too flat to be able to eyeball any actual highpoints. I exited via the locked gate that Mr. Sanders had given me the combo to, and left a letter of thanks folded up into a space near the lock. I wonder if he got it.

In any case, his kindness to let me drive removed at least 2 hours of hiking from my itinerary. He was a very nice man who mentioned he usually allows access as long as permission is asked. He does not live on the property but visits it regularly.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:260 ft / 79 m
    Distance:1.2 mi / 1.9 km
    Trailhead:2881 ft / 878 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack

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