Corkscrew Peak
Death Valley, California
April 20, 2009

In search for peaks to do near Las Vegas I was intrigued when I came across Corkscrew Peak on Summitpost. I was attracted to climbing a peak in Death Valley. Summitpost didn't give a route description but I was able to google a route for it. Good thing, as I had read about a party who didn't make it to the summit. They followed a canyon and became “rimwalled": they hit a dead end.

After parking on the side of the road, we set off up the trail and immediately became immersed in our surroundings: lizards, flowering cactus, huge beetles and unusual, colorful flowers everywhere.

We got off course a bit when we realized the trail we were on didn't follow the route I had. So we took off across the flats and reached the base of the mountain. Here the route ascended a ridge. We followed it until it intersected a well-worn path. Perhaps this was the trail we had been on earlier and our route was more direct.

Once on the trail we hiked easily to the top. Behind us, the vast expanse of Death Valley spread out, including Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation in the United States.

After we had our fill of the summit we headed down. It was hot when we started the trip but the summit air had been a comfortable temperature. Now as we descended, it grew hotter. It was 33°C when we walked back across the flats. Our next objective was an ice cream shop in nearby Beatty, Nevada!

KML and GPX Tracks

MOVIE (posted on YouTube)


Corkscrew Peak gets its name from its distinctive shape.


Horned lizard


When disturbed, a desert blister beetle can squirt a substance that can cause blistering on
human skin, something I learned later!


The route eventually wends right and behind the summit block.


Fishhook cactus named for its auxiliary hook-shaped spines.


After crossing the flats we finally start climbing.


We were careful not to bump into Barrel cactus. Mouse over to see a close-up of their spines.


Clockwise from upper left: beavertail cactus, smooth desert dandelion, desert fivespot,
desert chicory (mouse over each to zoom in)


Badwater Basin below is the lowest spot in the U.S. (86 m below sea level)


As we work our way around to the backside of Corkscrew, we see the mountains to the east.


The trip was never more than an offtrail hike.


From here we can only see the false summit.


On the far right, near the skyline, a trail goes up through the cliffs.


The route goes right, below the rock outcrops.


Some parties climb Telescope Peak (3368 m) starting from below sea level! Mouse over for a
close-up of Telescope Peak (on the skyline).


On the backside and now on a trail that leads to the notch above me.


Looking back as we hike up the trail.


A trail can be seen on the left, but we hiked offtrail between the two hills rising from the flats.


Nearing the notch


Posing in an arch


The trail continues to the summit.


Looking back


One last false summit


On top of Corkscrew Peak


Chloride City, Daylight Pass and Thimble Peak 1:24,000 Topos
(7.0 mi, 5781 ft, 3235 ft)


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