Dancin Up Charleston Peak

“What happens here stays here-Las Vegas”

Let’s do the Charleston!

Most go to Las Vegas for fun and games and perhaps to get on top of someone. Call us stupid, but we came to get on top of a mountain-Charleston Peak. This was unfinished business.

I was chased off this mountain last year in May due to blizzard type conditions.
We left Friday evening and were on the peak by 11:00 A.M. the following morning.


El Lobo

Charleston Peak National Trail-18 miles-10,000’ elevation gain/loss-7 hours

Charleston Peak (11,915) is the most climbed major mountain in Nevada. Nevertheless, this intriguing mountain belonged on our list. The Spring Mountains are located just 20 miles north of the fringes of Sin City and these natural towers are in sharp contrast to mankind’s Vegas skyline.
The peaks are wet enough to support dense forests. For all its proximity to the city, this whole mountain range remains wilder than most. This is beautiful country.

The trail runs through woods of ponderosa pine, white fir, and mountain mahogany up to 10,000 feet. Beyond that, there are groves of bristlecone pines, the oldest trees on earth.
The peak is the highest point on a long U-shaped ridgeline that wraps around the head of Kyle Canyon. Here at the top of Southern Nevada, our horizon was huge. It was a clear day and we could see for over a hundred miles to Telescope Peak in the Panamint Range beyond Death Valley and to the Sierras beyond that. Our panoramic view took in portions of four states-California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.

Less than a mile to the top

It had been a long time since I have hiked with Hannu. He had been recently bitten by a brown recluse spider and his status was in question.
Hannu is a world class orienteer and he travels at one speed-FAST! His pace is legendary and feared by all that dare to travel with him. He does not like to stop and rest or enjoy the view. He just wants to continue at a torturous pace. I thought the spider bite would slow him down-wrong!

Note: Hannu is also acquainted with the famous Finnish Farter Jim. Jim is from California and can apparently fart at will. The Finns appear to be quite talented at many sports.

On the trail down, I insisted on taking a break and a fast tracking duo passed us. Hannu, paced like a caged animal on this short break, and then he relentlessly stalked the duo until they broke. They asked in a surprising tone, “Do you want to pass?”
After the kill, the energized Hannu increased his pace, now intent to kill me.

At the trailhead we broke out our camp chairs and guzzled down a couple of oil cans of Fosters. “(That’s beer in Australian)”
Later, one of the people we had passed came over to introduce himself and find out “who these fast hikers were.”
Jim is from Las Vegas and has bagged many high pointers in each state across the country as well as most fourteeners in California and Colorado. He wanted company on his next trip to Montana where he was planning on climbing some very remote peaks.
We exchanged email addresses with the promise to hook up sometime in the future.

Living it up at the Hotel Lady Luck

We stayed in a scummy, cheap, downtown room that reeked of smoke, (non smoking room) the television didn’t work, and the sink was stopped up.
Friday night I was awoken by someone vomiting and moaning in the hall. –Perfect!

Saturday evening we dined and slammed down pale ales at the “Big Dog” with my old Friends AAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL Yates and Dan Mackimmmmmmmeeeeee with whom I used to work at First Interstate in Reno.
It was great to see them.

That night the power couple in the next room went at it all night long, they continuously slammed their bed into our adjoining wall.

On the road home Nu and I set a record for stops at A.M/ P.M and eating Junk food. It was mighty tasty!!

Men Behaving Badly:

Zo for again being afraid of his boss Richard and being a “No Show”

Dingo for being afraid of Hannu’s pace and being a “No Show”

Erik S for promising us a plush hotel room and half price drinks with his Westin discount and then being a no show because he was afraid of his boss.

El Lobo for acting like he was gambling at Lady Luck in order to get free beers.
When asked where he was playing by the cocktail waitress, he said that he was playing quarters. Unfortunately he was at a dollar machine. His Corona was confiscated by the sexy cocktail waitress in a mini skirt that accentuated her CRLs. (Charging Rhinoceros Legs)

Nu for disgustingly exclaiming - “Sir?” on the trail each time El Lobo cut one.

Nu for continuing to argue that it is not possible to obtain an erection in a Finnish Sauna, even if Pamela Anderson was in there. C'mon Hannu, I know a guy named Disco Will that could!


Planet of The Apes-Babo

"I can see for miles and miles and miles"
The Who 1967

The Endless Weekend

Friday Evening

I had just returned from five days in Southern Utah's Canyonlands, backpacking in 65 mph winds and record rains. (TR to follow) The gear was a mess and required several hours to clean and put away.

Saturday Evening

Gerry and I spent a quiet, relaxing evening, enjoying a steak dinner outside by the pool. The weather was perfect and we polished off a couple of good bottles of Australian Shiraz while listening to some of our favorite oldies.
Quite a bit of time was spent analyzing and philosophizing the lyrics of "Making Love out Of Nothing at All" a million seller by the Australian group Air Supply, recorded in 1983.
This dialogue was similar to a discussion such as: "What is Goofy? Is he a dog? Exactly what kind of animal is goofy?"
This deep philosophical session put me in bed much later than I had planned.

Road Trip

It was four A.M. Sunday morning and we had been driving for for two hours. Just outside Tucson we stopped at a Circle K for coffee and breakfast. Dingo heated up a frozen breakfast burrito. Mad Dog had not been to bed and scarfed down a frozen Pizza. Zo inhaled a hot dog. Lobo sipped his coffee, pondered the situation and cursed. Why had I planned and organized this outing? Why did they decide to go?

We all, of course knew the answer .....This was unfinished business. Our last attempt at Babo left us 600' from the summit. We were not going to be denied again. By noon we would be on top of the sacred peak.


Dingo Dan
Mad Dog Dan
El Lobo Grande

This time we made our approach from the West. We followed a good dirt road 10 miles to Baboquivari camp, which is beautifully maintained by the Tohono O'odham tribe. There was no one there at 7:00 A.M. There was no sign of the drug runners that the border patrol had warned us about.
We started our approach up a well maintained trail and hiked up 3500' to the "Great Ramp" where the trail ended and a scramble was now required. This part would be scary for non climbers who may mutiny and demand a belay.
We were shaded from the morning sun by Babo and this provided some relief. Along the way we discovered several campfire pits and areas to camp. (and hide)?
We reached the base of a 150' rock face, the Ladder Pitch at 11:00 A.M.

Zo climbed up unprotected and set anchors for us to climb with the protection of a rope. This pitch is a 5.6.
Mad Dog on his first rock climb (Pic by Zo)

After each of us climbed this face, we went South/West and free climbed a tricky short section with a chockstone. We then followed a vague route to the summit.

Alto de Montana

The summit was simply awe inspiring! The views were 360 degrees into the great wide open. You could see for miles and miles into old Mexico.
A few Indian trinkets had been left as an offering. Several species of large birds soared overhead.

Dozens of starlings zipped past, miniature jets flying 90 miles an hour. A few came too close for comfort and El Lobo became quite eager to start down. I mean, we were only half way done and still had a dangerous down climb to negotiate.
I was convinced that the starlings were sending us a message from the gods to leave the sacred mountain. The boys did not feel my sense of urgency.
"You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know."
- Rene Daumal
Free climbing down the top section was nerve racking but we went slow, had great communication and teamwork, and slowly worked down to the face. Here we each rapped down with a belay from Zo and then he followed.

At the "Great Ramp" we enjoyed a leisurely lunch before scrambling down to the trail. Hiking down was hot and arduous. El Lobo took a bad fall and his arm hemorrhaged. Along the way we spotted a pack hidden in some trees. We did not investigate.
After 10 hours of climbing and 9000' of elevation change we heard loud music coming from the direction of the camp.

We cautiously approached Zo's truck and were delighted to find a group of Tohono O'odham families having a picnic. The children were swinging at a piƱata, having a great time. We set up our camp chairs and collapsed into them. It had been a long day and we still had over four hours of driving left.

Pacificos flowed through our exhausted bodies. A large hard bloody lump had formed on El Lobo's arm. We all debated as to it's status-broken or bruised?

We drove out the back road through a beautiful thick forest of stately saguaros and we arrived in Tucson two hours later where we had dinner and cervezas at the eccentric Old Congress Hotel.

We arrived at Dingo Dan's at 11:00 P.M. Zo, the road warrior, got us home safely again.

Thanks to Zo for leading the climb and driving.

Babo! Babo! Babo!

Hombres Malos

Lobo - For being TOO much of a morning person at 2 a.m. He arrived at Dingo's house half inebriated with the radio on high volume and woke up Dingo's neighbors.

Lobo - for leaving noxious gas in Mad Dog's face during the climb.

Mad Dog - for sticking his snout too close to Lobo

Dingo, Zo and Mad Dog- for torturing the superstitious El Lobo on the summit by purposely taking their sweet time taking pictures and relaxing before descending.

Dingo - For bringing climbing shoes -- it's only 5.6 Dingo! Even Mad Dog, who's never climbed, didn't need climbing shoes.

Mad Dog For laughing loudly at Lobo's bludgeoned arm. Perhaps if Lobo had fallen to his death Mad Dog would have thought that it was hysterically funny?

Mad Dog For mooching a quart of water from Zo, a quart of grapefruit juice from Dingo and a liter of Gatorade from Lobo and then running out of water on the descent and acting dizzy in order to get more free liquid from us.

Lobo - For EXAGGERATING his sneezes at the Congress Hotel.

Group - For not paying the day use fee at the Babo campground.