Spirit Mountain
On 26 January 2011, Kelly Bou and I hooked up with Dinah Kruze to scramble up Spirit Mountain near the village of Cal-Nev-Ari in southern Nevada.  Dinah was on a condominium-hunting trip in Las Vegas but could not resist the lure of a desert peak, especially one that her partner, Bob Spirko, had previously climbed.  With both Spirko's trip report and the one from in hand, we drove to Christmas Tree Pass and began hiking up to the initial saddle.  A brisk wind kept temperatures cool and would be our constant companion throughout the day.  Descending beyond the saddle, we missed the good trail that climbs up to the mid-mountain notch on the southwest face, but we managed to get there anyhow by grinding up the adjacent steep and loose terrain.  At the notch, we picked up the heavily cairned route and followed it for what seemed like an eternity up to the south ridge.  The cairns were invaluable for pointing us in the right direction, but we still had to route-find our way around the odd troublesome obstacle.  A notable hazard is the plethora of cacti found everywhere.  Early on, I clumsily kicked a small barrel cactus and got stabbed by a single spine in the side of my shoe.  Later, Kelly inadvertently grabbed a prickly pear cactus and spent a long time pulling out the multitude of hair-like prickles (also known as glochids) stuck in her hand.

The remainder of the ascent was highlighted by a fun scramble through a cleft in a rock wall just before Spirit Mountain's west (true) summit.  Because of the wind, we did not linger too long there.  While Kelly and Dinah headed for the lower east summit, I stopped to take a few photographs before going over to tag a rock fin that was a short distance south of the west summit.  The wind was not much better at the east summit, and by the time I caught up to Kelly and Dinah, they were already preparing to descend.  We eventually took a lunch break lower down, but sensing the growing lateness of the day, we kept the break short and soon resumed our descent.  Not to miss out on all the cactus action, Dinah caught a few spines after brushing against a cholla cactus on the way down.  I also unwittingly barreled into another barrel cactus with painful results.  I just never learn, I guess!

By the time we got off the southwest face of Spirit Mountain, the sun was disappearing rapidly over the horizon.  Our climb back up to the initial saddle was not exactly fun, but it did not take as long as I thought it would either.  After a quick descent to Christmas Pass, we were soon well on our way back to Las Vegas.  Kelly, Dinah and I capped off our fun-filled day with a surprisingly good (and inexpensive!) dinner at Ellis Island Casino & Brewery.
All that is missing are the presents under the tree! This is one of many decorated trees at Christmas Tree Pass.  The top of Spirit Mountain is visible at upper left.
Looks easy enough so far... Kelly and Dinah head for the initial saddle.
Getting to the base of the mountain is more challenging than it looks. This is the view of Spirit Mountain from the saddle.
Having to climb back up at the end of the day is gonna suck! Dinah descends from the saddle.
Look at all the barrel cacti! The mid-mountain notch is somewhere above and behind the big block of rock.
Of course, it would have been easier if we had found the proper trail... Kelly and Dinah work their way up steep and loose terrain.
Now let's play "Follow the Cairns"! Dinah and Kelly walk through the notch.
I wonder if it's a scramble... Here is a closer look at the striking pinnacle from the previous photograph.
The summit looks impregnable, doesn't it? Here is another look at part of Spirit Mountain's complex southwest face
Mind the cacti. And those yucca plants can be nasty too! Dinah and Kelly hike up typical terrain on the southwest face.
Probably the crux of the route. Dinah and Kelly traverse an exposed ledge.
Probably one of the few trips that Dinah actually gets to lead most of the way! Dinah begins to take giant steps up the mountain.
Still some work left, but we're getting close! Kelly gains the crest of the south ridge.
Definitely more fun than hanging out on the Las Vegas Strip! Kelly watches as Dinah scrambles down a cleft in the rock wall near the summit.
Yayyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!! Sonny, Kelly and Dinah stand on the 1709-metre west (true) summit of Spirit Mountain.
To the left of North Peak is Little Peak, according to Garmin's Topo USA 2008. This is looking southwest toward Christmas Tree Pass from the west summit.  The initial saddle is right of centre.  Note the antennas on top of North Peak (centre).
I guess if Lake Mead dries up, Lake Mohave will likely follow suit. Lake Mohave is visible to the north.  The dark peak at centre (nearly obscured by the lighter peak in the foreground) is known as Devils Thumb.  On the horizon at far left is Mount Wilson (AZ) which is over 80 kilometres away.
Hmmm...looks almost as high as the summit I'm standing on... South of the west summit is a rock fin (right of centre) that Sonny would subsequently tag.
Even the east summit looks higher from here! Kelly approaches the cleft in the rock wall.  The east summit of Spirit Mountain is visible at upper left.
Just as fun the second time around! Dinah waits as Kelly scrambles through the cleft.
My GPS gave the rock fin an elevation of 1711 metres... This is looking back at the west summit from the rock fin.
Looks like the west summit is truly the "true" summit! This is the view of the west summit from the east summit.
Hualapai Peak is one of Arizona's county high points with a respectable height of 2566 metres. The view southeast includes the south end of Lake Mohave, Bullhead City, Arizona (far right), and Hualapai Peak (left on distant horizon).
At centre is the described campsite from Where the heck would campers get water up here?? This is looking south from the east summit.  In the fading distance at right is Mount Manchester.
Whew! It's nice to sit down for a few minutes! Dinah and Kelly stop for a quick bite to eat.
Neat pinnacles! Kelly retraces her steps down the mountain.
Look but don't touch! Trust me! Here is a close look at a prickly pear cactus.
Try not to land on a cactus, Dinah! Kelly watches Dinah slide down the exposed ledge that was previously shown.
OWWWWWWW!!!! Here are the bloody results of Sonny's second encounter of the day with barrel cacti.
Did I mention that climbing up at the end of the day really sucks? The last rays of sunshine for the day light up Spirit Mountain.
A rugged but rewarding scramble. This is the route as viewed in Google Earth.
My GPS actually recorded 1229 metres of total gain which is drastically in error, and yet, it kinda felt like we climbed that much...

Total Distance:  6.9 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  6 hours 35 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  740 metres (estimated)

GPX Data