Ascent of Mount Grant on 2021-06-28

Climber: Chris Gilsdorf

Date:Monday, June 28, 2021
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Grant
    Elevation:11280 ft / 3438 m

Ascent Trip Report

This one was a long time in the making, and one of a handful of western COHPs without public access that I still needed. It was also an area I vividly remembered from one of my first trips out west as a kid, riding the many hours from Vegas to Reno through the surreal desert landscape, and seeing the Hawthorne Army Munitions Depot and an enormous mountain and a great lake...Access here has gotten much easier in later years, but looked to have ground to a halt during the pandemic. I had been in touch with the fantastic Mary Jean Belzer and had secured permission to visit and pick up the key. Now, all we had to do was get up there...

Scott's ankle was still giving him some trouble, and it was unlikely he would be able to join me for the final real hike of the trip, so we caravaned separately. I met him in the Safeway parking lot in Hawthorne and we hopped into my pickup to return up to the base. Since this is something I realize has never been properly elucidated in any trip report I've seen, this is the process for actually getting the key:

1. Get to the army base gate. This is at Maine Ave on the west side of US-95 about a mile NW of the edge of Hawthorne. Park outside the gates to the right side where there's a large lot
2. After talking to the guards at the gate, go to the small building immediately left of the gates. Go inside and make arrangements to get the key.
3. Drive north on US-95 to the community of Walker Lake, take W. Cottonwood Dr through town to where it becomes a dirt road and reach the locked gate. Continue on to the summit from here.
4. Return to the base and return the key upon finishing your hike.

Everything went off without a hitch--except for relocking the gate! After making a crack about "how many PhDs does it take to close a padlock?" and joking that Mary Jean was probably watching us on video surveillance and laughing at us, we managed to relock the gate. But it seriously is a two-person job! The temperature in Cottonwood Canyon was well over a hundred, but we watched the temperature gradually mellow as we reached the saddle and turned onto the good two-track leading to the upper reaches of the mountain. Not rough, not very exposed, this was a pretty enjoyable drive through the high desert, all the way to the small lot at the end of the road, just 200' or so below the craggy summit pinnacle, where it was in the 70s. Poor Scott was really feeling his ankle now, and it took us a good half hour to get atop this pinnacle, which luckily was the highest one rather than the summit off to the north. We found an old register and marvelled at the views, most noticeably the brilliant blue of Walker Lake and the crazy sprawling complex of the army munitions depot far below. Storms seemed to be building over the high Sierra. We drove out to a lookout at the end of a spur road on the way down, which offered a better view down into Hawthorne. We made it back out and dropped off the key, then wandered around 108-degree Hawthorne looking for somewhere decent to eat. Joe's Tavern indeed proved decent. Scott finally headed toward home, while I hit the road for my last objective: Desatoya Peak.
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