Near the town of Death Valley Junction a distinct peak rises from the desert floor. This peak is part of the “Bat Mountain” range, and has always been on my radar due to its interesting profile. Topo maps label Bat Mountain as a smaller bump on the north end of the short range, but the true high point of the range is on the southern end. Furthermore, two peaks are often confused as the high points, and are usually referred to as Bat Mountain (N) and Bat Mountain (S).
The peak with the interesting profile, Bat Mountain (N), is the true high point by a few feet. This is a very infrequently climbed peak and it was difficult to find beta. Fortunately we got just enough that we felt confident enough to spend the day after Thanksgiving hiking to the summit.
On the way to our starting point we were fortunate enough to find the Amargosa wild horse herd enjoying some fresh water from the recent storms. They had a new little guy with them this year!
We decided on an approach from the north end of the range, driving the surprisingly good-condition Clay Mine dirt road to a gate at some old mine ruins. From here, we headed south through the range, alternating between hiking up canyons and over ridges.
Staying slightly to the left (east) side of the range kept us in pretty straightforward terrain. Some nice little canyons with dry fall scrambles made things interesting, and each time we’d pop out at the top of a ridge we’d get a better view towards our ultimate goal.
Since we didn’t have a lot of information, we frequently stopped to visually pick our line through the canyons and ridges. Ahead we could see a low saddle to the east of the peak, so we decided to head for that point before picking our way up the peak. A rocky chute followed by a traverse below a large rock outcropping looked like it would work for us to climb towards the saddle. I took the photo below when standing on one of the small ridges. We’ll drop into the wash below us, follow it to the next intermediate hill, then down into a wash on the other side. Following the wash, it turns into the chute that the pink arrow is pointing towards. We’ll traverse under the brown band of rock to the saddle labeled by the green arrow. From there, we’ll figure out how to get to the summit (yellow arrow).
The rocky chute was only annoying for a short period of time since the loose boulders gave way to more solid ‘velcro rock’ towards the top. We gained the saddle and regrouped before heading up the final stretch to the peak.
From the saddle, a small intermediate bump blocked our view of Bat Mountain’s summit, so we hoofed it to the top of the bump to study the final approach. My initial reaction upon seeing the view in front of me was a bit of “oh $%^&”. It looked incredibly steep and loose, not fun at all.
But, I’ve had enough experience in the mountains to know that looks can be deceiving. Furthermore, David was only about 20 minutes ahead of us and already on the summit. It couldn’t be as bad as it looked! I decided to go for it and headed over to the base of the final climb.
As soon as I started up I knew it would be fine. The perspective I had from the bump made the slope look nearly vertical, but in reality it was just a steep slope with lots of great rock. The scrambling was quite enjoyable and it didn’t take long to pop out on the summit.
David, Robin, Fred, Sooz and I all ended up doing the final climb to the summit. Hurray! Another bucket list desert peak!
We returned the same way we came, and then got a great view back on the peak as we drove back to camp at sunset.