Ascent of Panorama Point on 1989-05-10

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, May 10, 1989
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Panorama Point
    Elevation:5429 ft / 1654 m

Ascent Trip Report

In Cheyenne, WY I turned east on I-80, heading for the highest point in Nebraska, a 5,426 foot swell of prairie right near the point where Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska all met. There was a very major thunderstorm visible over the open plains off to the south, and I wanted to make it there before it hit, so I started driving very fast. It was hard to tell where it was going, but I seemed to be pretty much out of its range by the time I reached Pine Bluffs, WY, exited Route 80, and started following the direction's in Zummwalt’s book for getting to Nebraska’s unnamed summit.

I got a little lost in the small, neat, wide open town before finding Fourth Street south, which led back under I-80 and then across rolling prairie. I counted off the odometer miles (Zummwalt said that the turn to the high point was 12.1 miles south of the town) and nervously watched for the massive black thunderstorm brewing off to the southwest, finally reaching the end of the road at the expected mileage, where I then turned left on a very rutted track through the grass. I marveled at my capacity for car abuse as I rattled and rolled along what was nothing more than a track, and when the ruts became too deep for my car I left the ruts and just bajaed cross-country, feeling cool, as if I were one of those macho guys in a Jeep commercial.

A mile from the paved road I stopped at a barbed wire fence, where there was also a windmill and small, open water tank. I then put on my parka (it was very windy), and, using my map, struck out across the open grassland to the east.

By following the line of a barbed wire fence that marked the state line I soon came to a small concrete monument marking the point where CO, WY, and NE all met. I then continued east a little bit, across the rolling, grassy hills, until I saw what looked like a monument on the horizon to the northeast. Leaving the state line fence, I crossed into Nebraska, but I soon saw that the “monument” was a pipeline marker (and the picture I had taken of it was useless). I continued, on a slight northeastern tack, until I saw the real high point monument. I walked over one last shallow grassy valley and soon was standing at the highest point in Nebraska, on the Constable family farm, Kimball County, NE, after a mile hike from my car.

It was a pretty fantastic experience. For as far as the eye could see there was nothing but wide open, empty grassland, except for a few tiny barns and silos in the far distance. It was very late, so the sun was low in the sky, casting bright light out from the west, but overhead were dark, turbulent clouds, including the major thunderstorm out to the south. I felt like I was the last person on earth, at the edge of the world at the same time.

The little monument looked like a gravestone with a pipe fence around it, and after taking a couple of pictures I started back towards my car, since I was worried about tornadoes or getting struck by lightning if the clouds decided to act up, and it looked they might at any second. I hiked back to the car uneventfully, dodging meadow muffins on the tussocky grass, passing the tri-state corner, and arriving before any weather hit. I took a picture of myself with my car improbably parked on roadless prairie, then drove the bouncing, jolting route back across the grass to the cattle guard at the main paved road, and headed back into Pine Bluffs, WY.

A tiny monument marks the highest elevation in Nebraska, with endless plains stretching into the distance (1989-05-10).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:79 ft / 24 m
    Trailhead:5350 ft / 1630 m
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country
    Weather:Cool, Very Windy, Overcast
Thunderstorms in distance

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