Kingston Peak Trip Report

7,323 ft

Date: April 6, 2003

Kingston Peak is on the California Fifty Finest list of prominences and was a long-sought prize of both Edward Earl and myself ever since we failed to climb it a while back owing to adverse weather that precluded even the drive-in.

I was initially skeptical when Edward told me that this 2,500 ft net gainer took a DPS group nine hours - and Richard Carey took "all day". They were right. Navigational problems complicated an otherwise easier climb as one proceeds south along the summit ridge to the peak itself.

The previous day we had climbed the Avawatz Range highpoint - another desert summit on the California Fifty Finest list.

The light pollution from Las Vegas to the east was very apparent all night prior to our climb.

We began at 6:02 AM in near-freezing weather at the roadside - mine tailings all about. As we departed I enjoyed matzoh with rose jam and butter, walking south across a tilted brush-filled plain to the base of a gulley that leads to the key ridge at its top. Two hours were consumed in this 1,700 foot elevation gain. We topped out and took a well-deserved break.

From here the route traverses a north-south trending ridge enlivened with impassable pinnacles. The key is to find a way around each of them without getting into class 4+ climbing suggesting a rope - we had none with us. Fortunately some cairns were spotted - and these aided our efforts considerably.

The final summit push is immediately preceded by the climb of a subpeak just north. The subpeak had burnt trees along its north slope. After a descent of four 10-meter contours Edward and I reached Kingston Peak proper. The 250 foot gain looked very daunting since no obvious path was found to avoid the numerous rock formations. By most good fortune we found cairns that, had they been absent, would likely have meant our failure.

We spent about one hour on top after five hours elapsed from my truck. I ate lunch - including a brown sugar pop-tart from Edward: I had run out of snack food since I thought we'd be returning via Baker after the previous day's climb, so allowing me to get more food. We signed the summit register.

The views were wonderful. Nevada was close at hand to the east. The Avawatz Range highpoint was west - our previous day's venue. Charleston Peak had a decent amount snow on top - the Clark County, Nevada highpoint. It was relatively pleasant temperature-wise: we were in a cold weather pattern that obviated much of our initial concerns about hydration for this weekend.

Our descent along the pinnacled ridge was quicker owing to a knowledge of the cairns and the expediency of following them when possible. The descent consumed four hours including all breaks. We returned about 4:15 p.m. Pacific Standard Time - so making for a ten hour day. Even though the world had shifted to Daylight Saving Time overnight, we had decided to remain on Standard Time for the purposes of our journey - and adjusted our clocks only upon return to San Diego.

On the drive home we listened to CBS Sixty Minutes at six o'clock - corresponding to the new time of 7 p.m. at which it is normally broadcast. At that time, in Baker, we switched drivers so I could enjoy my 1,445th pint of ice cream - this time vanilla for diabetics. I mixed in a wide assortment of tidbits from my two days of climbing, ranging from coconut-flavored white chocolate to almond brownie health bar.

Ninety miles later, in Victorville, we stopped for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Edward was hungry by then and ordered a three-piece meal with all the fixin's. He bought for me a two-piece meal that was very satisfying - it came with the usual buttermilk biscuit and honey. Used real whipped butter on it that I had taken for the trip, instead of (their) liquid margarine crap. I had a bottle of barbecue sauce so this diversion into greasy food was a real treat! Edward finished his meal incrementally since the first two-thirds of it had filled him up quickly. Meanwhile, I drove the remaining distance home while Edward dozed as my passenger.

This makes thirty-six of the CA Finest Finest for Edward and, if his count is correct, thirty-one for me.