Thursday, August 6, 2009

Boundary Peak

Several months ago I read a posting about summiting the 50 state high points, and I have become pretty interested in trying to accomplish that feat. Living on the east coast gives me opportunity to knock out quite a few states in a short amount of time with minimal effort. However, I have not had the time off to drive around collecting high points. For at least 2 months, I've realized that my trip to Nevada for work would offer me a great opportunity to nab the Nevada state high point, Boundary Peak- 13,143 feet. I had never climbed to that height, so I spent a decent amount of time researching routes, time required and equipment needed.

Boundary Peak is the one on the right
in the distant background.

My fellow flight surgeon, Thomas, and one of the squadron corpsmen, Pangan, both wanted to come along. After arriving in Fallon, 2 of the other corpsmen (Hand and Nicholson) decided to come along with us. None of them had much experience climbing, especially at altitude.

At our dinner stop Saturday evening
(me, Thomas, Nicholson, Pangan, Hand)

Our trip started in Fallon, and required a 3 hour drive south on Hwy 95 before hitting a dirt road off 264 just south of the 264/773 intersection. After 40 minutes to drive 15 miles on said dirt road in our rented Kia minivan, passing a couple other groups camping on the way, we reached the trailhead where 2 highpointers were waiting for morning in their trucks.

Good thing Thomas is an Eagle Scout

The trailhead is about 9000 ft, and we started off at 0645 Sunday morning. The first hour was pretty gentle hiking with minimal elevation gain, and the second hour brought us to the Trail Canyon Saddle (10,800 ft). Turns out this was the route to take after talking to the other 2 guys later who had taken the more direct/steep route. One of them likened it to running on marbles.

Nicholson asked if the hard part was over. No, it was just beginning.

Around 1015 we stopped for lunch at the 12,000 ft pass. This was the highest altitude I'd ever been to, and we can could feel the lack of oxygen after coming from Virginia only a week prior. We made it to the site where the two routes join up in another 15-20 minutes after an easy walk along the west edge of a minor peak.

The view of our goal from our lunch break

This is when the hike became a climb as the next hour required a bit of scrambling with some need of using hands to get grips going through the big talus fields. We got pretty strung out at this point, and one of our group was forced to reconsider his ascent at 12,500 after he realized there was an on-going phobia of falling off the side of a mountain. We left him hugging a rock after he decided he wasn't having fun.

The view from the top of the scree pile that is the other route. We started at the far end of the canyon in this picture.

I summited just after 1130. The view was beyond words. The sky was a perfect, clear blue and we could see peaks all around. We signed the log, took pics and headed down the mountain. We took the steep, direct route and realized how glad we were that we had not gone up that way. The trip down was quicker (only about 3 hours), and we packed up camp and headed back to Fallon.

I used my new camelbak and carried a bottle of gatorade on the trip. I drank about 70 oz and could have used more if I hadn't shared it.

I can't wait to get out and see more high points.


  1. Thanks, Ryan. Good pictures and description of your adventure. Sure glad I wasn't along. I would have stopped much sooner that your friend. Grandpa

  2. I like the pics. Only 49 more to go....