We woke up the morning of Day 4 in Wright Lakes Basin, a lovely place that we seemingly had all to ourselves. This morning we weren’t packing up camp, rather we were off to climb Mt Barnard, the highest non-14er peak in the Sierra. And at 13,990 ft it’s close enough to 14k that maybe someday it will be measured as a 14er, so it’s nice to get it while it’s flying under the radar!
Although the summit of Barnard was less than 2 miles as the crow flies from camp, I had estimated our round trip route to be close to 10 miles of hiking. The southwest ridge of Barnard is an easy Class 1 slope but we still had some unknown terrain to navigate to even get to the ridge.
I’m not going to give away many specifics about how to get up Salsberry Peak. There is some basic info in Zdon’s Desert Summits, but the fun of this one is finding the way on your own. After a cross-desert trek towards the base of the peak you’ll find many washes and ridges, but if you find the right one you’ll be treated to some awesome narrows, steep dry falls to scramble, and many signs of desert bighorn including bones, tracks, and bedding spots. The final ridge to the summit is really fun with lots of small obstacles, and the summit itself is big enough to fit a group of friends out on a day of desert peak bagging. Rather than ramble on about it, I’d rather just show. Here are pictures of one of my new favorite desert climbs (and even more here).
On our way out of the park on our last day in Death Valley we stopped by Sidewinder Canyon. This is a great canyon just south of Badwater. At first glance, it’s a relatively boring and steep open rocky wash-like canyon, but if you start to peek down the side slots you’ll find some really cool stuff. Some of the slots are so narrow and have such high walls that you need a headlamp to see. I highly recommend this less-visited hike along the main park road. Some pics here.
Dave and I regularly head for the desert over Thanksgiving week. Aside from the crowds, it is a great time to visit due to the mild weather. This year’s trip was a mishmash of a lot of places: Rainbow Basin, Mojave National Preserve, Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, and Death Valley. Rather than throw everything into one photo album, I tried to break it down by area or hike. Trip report and photos after the jump.