Sunrise Mountain
Looking for a quick trip near Las Vegas, Nevada on 16 December 2011, I headed out to the eastern limits of the city to scramble up Sunrise Mountain.  Though not as popular as Frenchman Mountain to the south, Sunrise Mountain offers more interesting challenges, and its summit is not marred by telecommunications equipment.

Starting from the same trailhead for Frenchman Mountain along Highway 147 (Lake Mead Boulevard), I tiptoed around the detritus littering the vicinity and climbed over a low pass to the north.  Sunrise Mountain soon came into view as I descended the other side of the pass.  I aimed for the southwest ridge, but getting across the valley to the base of the mountain required some route-finding to navigate through the intervening maze of washes.  Once I gained the southwest ridge, I settled into an easy scramble up low-angled slabs and rubble.  Although the bumps along the summit ridge look daunting from a distance, they can be negotiated quite easily, and I had no problems scrambling to the top of Sunrise Mountain.

Instead of retracing my steps back to the southwest ridge for my descent, I simply dropped straight down the south face.  Though some of the slabs are steep here, the rock is wonderfully grippy.  Back down in the valley, I avoided some of the aggravating pitfalls I had earlier in the washes, and I efficiently made my way over the low pass and back to my car.
It's prudent not to leave anything of value inside your vehicle here. The standard route for Sunrise Mountain begins here and climbs over the low pass at centre.
Or at least I think it was a dog... Among the multitude of abandoned furniture and other garbage near the trailhead is what appears to be the remains of somebody's pet dog.
I just wanted to get as quickly away from all the garbage and dead things... Sonny climbs quickly up to the low pass.
How many hotels can you identify? From the low pass, the Las Vegas Strip is visible to the west.  Potosi Mountain dominates the horizon.
Now comes the fun part of finding a route to the base of the mountain... Sunrise Mountain comes into view on the other side of the low pass.
I chose to climb the nearest ridge on the left. There are many possibilities for ascending Sunrise Mountain.  The summit is just out of view behind the ridge at far right.
If you use this approach, you don't have to climb over the low pass, but you also start lower and have a longer hike in. This is looking back down the wash that is an alternative approach for Sunrise Mountain.
I wonder if there are any desert trombones... These are desert trumpets (Eriogonum inflatum).  Originally and erroneously thought to have been caused by insect larvae, the swollen stems play a part in the perennial plant's carbon dioxide regulation.
There were lots of these on Sunrise Mountain. A barrel cactus stands upright on the rocky slope.
Feels like spring already! A few desert marigolds such as this one are still blooming in December.
The scrambling is actually very enjoyable on this mountain. Sonny climbs up a false summit.
Stay high and to the left here. There is another false summit to bypass.
Easy stuff. Sonny traverses the ridge to the true summit.
Yay! The summit is just a few steps ahead.
Possibly the remnants of a US Army airway beacon. Sonny stands beside the odds and ends on the 1024-metre summit of Sunrise Mountain.
They did several laps over the city throughout the day and even flew up the valley below Sunrise Mountain. A trio of military Chinook helicopters perform manoeuvers over Las Vegas.
I'd like to go back and climb Frenchman Mountain in the evening one of these days. To the south is Frenchman Mountain.
Charleston Peak is the snow-capped one at centre, and to the right is Mummy Mountain. The Spring Mountains out west look very clear on this day.
Another classic Vegas peak. Gass Peak dominates the view to the northwest.
If you have extra time and energy, it might be worth checking out...or not! The ridge to the northeast is part of the Sunrise Mountain massif and looks nearly as high if not higher.
Lotsa little nubs to bag here! To the southeast is some interesting desert landscape.  Lake Mead is also visible in the distance.
I wonder what would happen to Las Vegas if Lake Mead dried up completely... Behind Lake Mead are Fortification Hill (dark flattop just left of centre) and Mount Wilson (centre on horizon).  Both are on the Arizona side of the lake.
A minor peak with major views. Diminutive Lava Butte is also visible to the south.
There was also a lot of smashed glass in the vicinity, so watch your step! Beyond the summit paraphernalia, Muddy Peak is visible on the eastern horizon.
They seem to favour sunny slopes. The south-facing slopes of Sunrise Mountain are cluttered with barrel cacti.
The scree ramp on the left might also be a quick way to descend. Sonny proceeds across the flats after descending the face behind him.
Any ideas what kind of animal this is from? Sonny finds a partial skull in one of the washes.
An excellent scramble! Here is a last look at the south face of Sunrise Mountain.
The right-hand track is approximate (I didn't notice that my GPS batteries had died during my descent). Total Distance:  approx. 6 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  4 hours 12 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  344 metres