Ascent of Towne Benchmark on 2013-11-16

Climber: BMS 914

Others in Party:Joel Brewster
Karen McCann
James Morehouse -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Rich Stephens -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Matt M
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, November 16, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Towne Benchmark
    Elevation:7287 ft / 2221 m

Ascent Trip Report

LVMC outing to Panamint Butte, a DPS peak, following the ridge up over Towne Benchmark.

Rich and I met Joel at his place in Las Vegas, departing at 3:15 AM for the drive to Towne Pass in Death Valley National Park. We would be meeting Jim Morehouse there, as he was camping down the highway (190), as well as two new members, Karen McCann and her husband Matt. Karen and Matt are from Canada, but had some experience hiking in the Las Vegas area with a local hiking group. Matt had additional mountaineering experience from his days living in British Columbia. It is always a concern when new people join the group; but in this case, the hike, while long, was well within their capabilities. Karen and Matt had also camped, arrived before we did, and had met Jim. With the sun still just below the horizon we began hiking up the rocky slope next to our parking spots. Said parking was simply a gravel shoulder alongside the paved highway, accessible to virtually any vehicle, near the "Towne Pass" sign off Highway 190.

I had hiked up to Towne Pass in 2012, and did not need to do so again. At least this time I wouldn't be wearing a sling! But options for Panamint Butte are fairly limited, and the route we were taking seemed as good as any others I could find. Once we had ascended the fairly steep, rocky slope we hit a ridge, then followed it on fairly smooth terrain for about 3 miles as it snaked its way around, up, and down over to the summit. The hiking is pretty easy, as the ridge is a mix of soft dirt and small rock, and only sparse vegetation. For a desert hike, said vegetation is surprisingly non-prickly, and I saw no cactus or anything else that would hinder the hike. The whole thing was all very familiar, and it wasn't windy up on the ridge like my last trip.

On the summit, we took a break, ate some snacks, took some photos, signed the register, and began our hike over to Panamint Butte.

Leaving by the north ridge, we again covered similar terrain. Eventually, we came to a steep slope covered in loose scree. Everyone carefully worked down this slope, some doing some very light Class 2/3 downclimbing on mild angle outcrops just to get off the loose terrain, though the climbing was easily avoided if desired. "Scree surfing" doesn't work well here as the limestone is sharp and doesn't slide enough to really get enough movement to work well. At the bottom of the slope was a flat area at the bottom of the valley where we took a break.

For the next portion of this trip, please see my report under Panamint Butte. GPS track shown is for the entire outing.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3060 ft / 931 m
    Elevation Loss:1991 ft / 606 m
    Distance:5.7 mi / 9.2 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Sunny but hazy
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:2700 ft / 822 m
    Extra Loss:374 ft / 113 m
    Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Route:Southeast Ridge
    Trailhead:Turnout off Highway 190  4961 ft / 1512 m
    Time Up:2 Hours 14 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1617 ft / 493 m
    Extra Gain:360 ft / 109 m
    Distance:2.2 mi / 3.5 km
    Route:North Ridge
    Trailhead:Saddle below Panamint Butte  6030 ft / 1837 m
    Time Down:1 Hours 44 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Towne_Panamint (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Towne Benchmark2013-11-16 a
2Panamint Butte2013-11-16 b
3Towne Benchmark2013-11-16 c
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by BMS 914
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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