Ascent of McCullough Mountain on 2012-11-12

Climber: James Barlow

Others in Party:Keith Christensen
Jennifer Blackie
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, November 12, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:McCullough Mountain
    Elevation:7026 ft / 2141 m

Ascent Trip Report

The hike started out just fine, certainly the best weather of the weekend (translation = least cold morning). We camped in the van at the beginning of DPS Route A on the east side of the mountain range. There is a fire ring here and it is relatively flat, so it makes a nice pre-hike bivy site. There was a "hunter in blind ahead" sign along the side of the road at this point, so it was a good place to stop anyway. We made our way into the correct wash and headed up DPS Route A. I cheated and plugged some waypoints and a track into my GPS ahead of time since navigation can be a challenge on this hike. As it turns out, it was pretty much unnecessary. The navigation is easier than advertised. About a mile up the wash, I attempted to take a picture and found that my camera battery was dead. I am quite a fan of photography on hikes as Keith and Jen can attest to, so I was very dismayed at the prospect of no pictures to remember this rather pleasant hike. I attempted to warm the battery in my pocket as we walked to no avail. It wasn't cold; it was dead. We found the correct spot to drop into the second wash that deposits you right near the summit and we easily made our way through the pinyon pine and juniper to the top. The register is only 1 year old and is only on its second page. We signed in and noted the usual suspects who had been here within the last year, mainly LVMC, DPS, and P2k fans.

At this point Keith the electrician kicked into good idea mode. We found some old wire on the summit (like every desert peak, McCullough has a little bit of wire and wood from a century ago on top). I also had spare AA batteries for my headlamp and GPS. Keith bent the wire and I suggested rubbing it against a rock to remove the rust. Keith instructed us on how to line up the negative wire to the negative plate on the camera battery and the same for the positive. Jen held the dead camera battery and the positively charged wire while Keith held the negatively charged wire and I held the 3 AA batteries. We held this for what seemed like and uncomfortable eternity, but was likely less than 5 minutes. I put the battery in the camera and unbelievably, it turned on. I quickly took a picture of the 3 of us and then we traded the camera around for a few more pics. Our summit victory photos include us holding the batteries and wire that we charged the camera battery with. I managed to get nearly a dozen shots in and the battery didn't even die, allowing me to take more pictures on the descent hike. It was quite a feat, and we owe it all to Keith, who knows how much I love my summit shots. Glorious Photos!

Just because we successfully returned to the car with a working camera and a now-departed hunter, doesn't mean that the adventure was over. Our intentions for the remainder of the afternoon were clear: bag the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness High Point from the approach road, a feat requiring nearly 100 feet of gain over a quarter of a mile. We felt that we were up for it. I even planned to make a gpx track as a light-hearted joke. We pulled up to the pass just west of this magnificent bump and jumped out of the van, ready for our 15 minutes in the desert. I walked around to the driver's side and heard a hissing. I alerted Keith and we backed the van up the hill just a bit so we would be on flat, solid surface for the inevitable tire change. At this point, Jen observed a completely flat right rear tire on the other side. Not good: 2 flats, 1 spare. We decided that in the time it would take to change the right rear tire, that the left rear would be completely flat. So, we made the split second decision to pile back into the van, sacrifice the right rear tire, and make it to pavement on NV-164, where our chances of finding help were much higher. By the time we hit pavement, the left rear was now almost totally flat. Naturally, none of us have AAA, somewhat unusual for a DPS group... We needed at least one good tire plus the spare to get to Searchlight. We took the worst tire off the right rear and put the spare on. The left rear would likely be driveable with some fix-a-flat, which we didn't have. Jen successfully waved down a vehicle, a very helpful and friendly local named Dave. I grabbed my wallet and cell phone, and we were off to Searchlight, with Dave agreeing to bring me back to Keith and Jen once I procured some fix-a-flat and a tire repair kit. We picked up the supplies in Searchlight and were back at the van pretty quickly. We used the tire repair kit on the left rear and then used the fix-a-flat to partially inflate it. It sucked, but it was enough to limp to Searchlight at 35mph to top it off with air. Luckily, we finished early enough in the day that Discount Tire in Henderson (Vegas) was still open, so we repaired the right rear tire at the Searchlight gas station so we would have an inflated spare, and we were off to Henderson at 50mph. We limped into Discount Tire an hour before they closed and Keith ended up purchasing 2 new tires, not exactly in the plan for the trip. We ended up eating rather dull food while we waited on the tires instead of our planned Mad Greek feast in Baker. Oh well...

7.84 miles round trip
3h 51m moving time
1h 36m stopped (all that battery charging time on the summit!)
2.0 mph moving avg
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2026 ft / 617 m
    Total Elevation Loss:200 ft / 60 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2026 ft / 617 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1826 ft / 557 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:200 ft / 60 m
    Route:DPS Route A
    Start Trailhead:5200 ft / 1584 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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