Ascent of Moapa Peak on 2015-04-03

Climber: Steven Thompson

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, April 3, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Moapa Peak
    Elevation:6471 ft / 1972 m

Ascent Trip Report

Three-thirty AM, a tad early for the alarm to go off, but after my last attempt on Moapa peak, where I arrived way to late, I didn't want to take a chance of not having a full day. I probably should have camped at the trailhead, but I haven't had a chance to go through my camping gear yet this year. Mesquite was packed for the Easter Holiday weekend with not a room available in sight. I'll leave Cedar City, UT by 4:00 AM (Mountain Daylight Time) and arrive in Mesquite by 5:30 AM (4:30 AM Pacific Daylight Time). With road construction in the Virgin River Gorge, early morning will be the best time anyway. Single lane on I-15 does not a good holiday combination with traffic make.

The trailhead is easy to locate. I can verify that typing N36 60.118 W114 26.513 into Google Maps will give the correct directions to the trailhead. I can also verify the travel time will NOT be correct. I started a timer when I left the asphalt and it read 51 minutes when I arrived at the trailhead. I have also driven this road before, so I would add another 15 - 30 minutes for first time driving. Four wheel drive is preferred with high clearance. At the trailhead turnaround and main wilderness sign, an ATV trail leads through a small canyon to a flood control dike. I drove on the ATV trail to the flat area on the west side of the dike to begin my hike.

After filling up with gas in Mesquite, and grabbing a quick breakfast sandwich, by the time I parked the Fj and began loading my pack, the morning sun began peaking over the ridge behind me and cast a beautiful ribbon of yellow and red across the rocky face of Moapa Peak. It's going to be a beautiful day.

The air is cool, and a modest breeze is blowing as I begin my ascent up the creek bed. Stay to the left and follow the main flow. A rocky outcropping is coming off a low ridge line and ends right at the edge of the wash, this provides a good line of sight for the direction of travel. Familiar with this section of the hike, I am making good time. The sun is up, but it is still chilly. I'm dressed for it with jacket, hat and gloves, but as I cross behind the rocky outcropping I disappear into shadow. It is down right cold without the sun. The wash ends at a slot canyon, a cairn marks the exit spot to the hikers left. Follow any one of the many trails up the wash toward the saddle. I prefer the east side of the wash, staying on the upper cliff bands of the east side.

As soon as I hit the sun, I take my first break. I drink some water, and eat a light snack. I'm thankful the high will only be 71 degrees today and that I don't have to carry to much water. I am carrying 3 liter and a half bottle of Gatorade. This amount would never do during anything warmer, so be very careful to calculate you water needs on this hike.

At the first saddle, I am now in new territory. I check my TOPO map and GPS track from others who have gone before, and begin to hike up the ridge. At the cliff band, I go right when I should have gone left. Right is a short class 4 climb up a dryfall area, good hand holds exist, but I would not be comfortable down climbing this area. On the return I noted my error and had no problem down climbing the class 3 section to the left. It is amply marked with cairns, I simply missed them.
The remaining climb to the next saddle is very well marked and plenty of cairns lead through the cliff bands. A fairly good trail is easy to follow as there is not much deviation in this section of the route.

The second saddle opens stunning views to the west, and the rocky cap of Moapa Peak can be seen to the northeast. Direction in this area always messes with my mind. The mountain ranges run in a mostly southwest to northeast direction, where a lot of ranges simply run north and south. The faint trail continues to head in the general direction of the rocky summit and I continue to climb. The trail is moving up and to the northeast, I stop at the occasional point to look directly down the rugged southern (eastern?) face of Moapa Peak. Breathtaking.

Finally I reach the summit rock face. This is the long traverse along the base of the face, in and out of two deep ravines to the northeast summit ridge. A class 2+ scramble through another cliff bands leads to the final saddle and rocky summit cap. (Note: the trail is very close to the cliff face for a good portion of the hike, I wished I'd brought a helmet for protection). Once at the base of the summit cap, depending on climbing skills, you can scramble directly up onto the ridge. For us weaker climbers, drop off the back side of Moapa Peak and follow the cairns around to a weakness which allows access.

The next hundred yards or so is what makes this peak worthwhile to climb. An absolutely stunning solid class 3 scramble along a razor back ridge to the summit. Extreme exposure in places make for heart stopping fun. I stopped at a wide area, and downsized by pack to lighten the load. Once across I don't think this was necessary, but I felt it needed at the time. The summit itself is unremarkable when the high wire ridge line empty's onto a large rock and sand cap. A summit cairn and registration container exists.

I spend an hour or so on the summit, enjoying the warming day and a nice lunch. The sky is clear and the wind has died out. Wonderful views in all directions. Looking east (southeast) a small dark ridge line can be spotted and with really good eye sight, a small shinny black and white spot can be seen. It's a long way back to the Fj. This is the first summit I can recall that required more time to descend than climb. Loose scree and cliff bands cause extra caution. Three liter of water was the perfect amount as I drank my last drink several hundred yards from the car. Pretty much a perfect day.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5588 ft / 1702 m
    Extra Gain:1158 ft / 352 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.4 mi / 10.3 km
    Route:Established Route
    Trailhead:3199 ft / 975 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 27 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 3 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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