Calico Tank Peak
Red Rock Canyon NCA, Nevada
October 29, 2009

Dinah and I expected to knock off Calico Tank Peak in short order but the trip was fraught with intense routefinding beyond anything I've encountered before. This peak is located in the incredibly complex Calico Hills. Deep canyons and towering boulders make it impossible to see your way up through any route. We stopped often to explore possibilities. Sometimes we had to backtrack. And rarely did the scrambling let up.

We followed the descent route taken from Harlan Stockman's web site with little trip description but a good route map. A shorter, easier route could be taken from Sandstone Quarry, but our route from the other side, Calico Basin, avoided the crowds.

After a meandering start we were fortunate to find a cairn. Continuing in the general direction of the summit, we kept searching for cairns, which were usually hard to find or even absent.

After climbing for 2.5 hours we reached a saddle where we met a group that started from Sandstone Quarry just 35 minutes earlier! They turned back while we scanned the white rock above that was Calico Tank Peak. After much searching we made the summit.

Despite the challenges, we enjoyed the trip. Most of the rock was solid for scrambling and the views from the summit better than expected for a little peak. But I don't recommend trying this route without instructions!

KML and GPX Tracks


Driving into Calico Basin we hoped to see wild burros but have no luck


Setting off for Calico Tank Peak (centre)


The trail takes us by this tree


Unsure of which way to go, we went right (unseen) but descended from this canyon


There are many route possibilities but we went through the narrow gap (upper right)


Dinah worms her way through the rocks


Dinah heads to the cairn in front of her


We need to get to the broad slope above but reaching it was harder than it looked


We pass fascinating rocks along the way


Cairns marked a steep route. Getting to the top (arrow) was easy but tricky after that


An easier way was this chute on the right


The only easy section. The summit ahead.


We still had to find a way up the summit


Looking for a way up


All the rock was solid


After searching the right side of the summit we try the left and find a way


On top of Calico Tank Peak


Coming down


Dinah heads to a tiny arch that looks like an elephant's head


Mostly a scramble on the way down


Following cairns, I tried a different route down but it led to a drop off


I climb back up to Dinah


Eventually we make it to the bottom of the canyon and follow it out


La Madre Mtn. 1:24,000 Topo (3.1 mi, 4921 ft, 1220 ft)

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