Churchill County High Point Trip Report

Desatoya Peak (9,973 ft)

Date: September 26, 2001
Author: Mike Coltrin

My plan was to drive in from the south on route 722 just east of Carroll Summit. I had hoped to be able to find my way up Campbell Creek, cross the divide into Milkhouse Creek, use Andy Martin's route up Smith Creek to Desatoya Peak, then escape over Basque Summit and connect with US 50 north of the Desatoya Mountains.

The drive in went well, for the most part. The route up Campbell Creek was easy enough to follow but very rocky and steep in spots. You definitely need good ground clearance and four-wheel drive. (I remember telling myself after crossing the divide just west of point 8670 that whatever the Basque Summit road was like it couldn't possibly be worse than this one.) My plan fell to pieces along Milkhouse Creek. Northwest of point 7635 I came across a fallen aspen. This totally blocked the route. (From an examination of the area it was apparent that a rancher had recently cleared another aspen-fall so I don't expect this obstacle to remain for very long.) Being late in the day, I retreated a mile or so and camped for the night.

The next morning, Sep 26th, I returned to the saddle near point 8670 and took the westward road up to the range crest. Just before reaching the crest, a faint 2-track angles northward at about the 9,300 foot level. This soon ends at a nice place to leave the vehicle. From here it is about four hiking miles to Desatoya Peak.

The hiking route had its ups and downs but there was a trail to follow most of the way. Climbing out of the saddle north of point 9462, the trail braids into obscurity. The two easiest options for a hiker are to tough it out and climb the ridge and reacquire the trail somewhere east of point 9812 or contour eastward to a small saddle at the 9600 foot level and reacquire the trail there. Either works, the entire crest is above tree line. The last six hundred feet to the summit is also trail-less but not a problem.

Even though this hiking route was longer that that used by Andy, it had it's reward when I came across a herd of more than 40 bighorn sheep on the south slope of Desatoya. I estimate the round trip was about eight miles with roughly 2,000 feet of elevation gain.