On Feb. 7th, the 52 Peak Club did a hike to First Creek Peak. Normally this is a fun hike with lots of scrambling, but on this day there was ice high up on the route. Not surprisingly the ice was on the north facing side. This made things tricky and safety was the utmost thing on our minds.
Things Get Tricky and We Used Some Tricks
The higher up we climbed the more snow and ice we encountered. Luckily we were in fairly tight chutes, so we could use the walls for handholds and there was no exposure. Once we turned the corner and came to the ledge things changed. Ahead of us was a very exposed climb that had ice on it. A fall here would be deadly. Walking the ledge normally was no big deal, but with ice on it and a death-fall off to the right, it was a big deal.
We were close to the summit and did not want to turn around. We took rocks and started chipping away at the ice to the sandstone rock underneath. It worked! We carefully and successfully traversed the ledge. At one point we laid down a roped to make it safer.
After carefully hiking up the snow covered ground, normally this is an easy hiker's path, we stood at the base of the imposing summit block. We were all glad there was no ice or snow on this final climb. At the summit we rested, it had been a tough hike and looked across the canyon to the Hidden Bowl on Mt. Wilson. Not a speck of snow or ice, since it was south facing. Hmm...
We all realized descending the route we ascended would be very tricky and dangerous, even with webbing and cams. Most accidents happen during the descent. We made a group decision to traverse over the Hidden Bowl. The traverse was long, but very safe. We descended the Hidden Bowl back into the wash.
Bottom line is we all made it out without incident and had a memorable hike.
Better decisions lead to better hikes and a better life. This one example.
Branch Whitney is the author of Hiking Las Vegas and creator of the 52 Peak Club where members hike to the best 52 Peaks around Las Vegas, NV