Damsel Peak has been on Dinah's list for quite some time. She liked the name, perhaps because few peaks have feminine names, but it also looked like a fine peak to ascend. To reach it, the recommended route runs north through Calico Hills and its amazing red and white sandstone formations. Past the colorful Hills, draped in dull gray limestone, rises Damsel Peak. Of the 60 highest peaks around Las Vegas Valley, it ranks 34. Due to the onerous approach, it's seldom visited.
I didn't have a route description for Damsel; instead I relied on a GPS track that a friend gave me. Still, it wouldn't be easy. Although it starts on a trail, 80 percent of the route is offtrail. As I expected, the most challenging routefinding section was in the Calico Hills where there are numerous washes and ridges. At one point, the compass on my GPS receiver worked improperly and sent us in the wrong direction. We soon realized the problem, however, and quickly got back on track. After getting over Calico Hills, routefinding became simpler, mostly following a wash and then ascending the easy slopes to the summit. Towering well above Calico Hills, Damsel Peak offers fine desert vistas.
After leaving the parking lot, the trail rises to a saddle left of Kraft Mountain
Nothing but great desert scenery ahead
On our right, the colourful rock formations of Kraft Mountain
Looking back down the trail (click for a larger image)
Heading down the other side of the saddle. Turtlehead Peak on the left.
Cute little bird, probably a black-throated sparrow
Hiking up the wash to a fork
Ascending the wash after the fork
The route is straightforward in the wash
Routefinding becomes more complicated when we reach a basin
Unknowingly we take a wrong turn and go the wrong way, but soon correct it
Passing a bowl of water
Back on track, we start climbing out of the basin
We work our way left around some white sandstone
Eventually we climb out of the sandstone maze
We head in the general direction of Brownstone Wash
Finally we see Damsel Peak (left). We'll have to drop to Brownstone Basin below.
(Click for a larger image).
A closer look at Damsel
After leaving Brownstone Basin we hike up a wash towards Damsel Peak
A shallow prospecting cave in the wash
After climbing out of the wash the route goes behind the steep rock on the right
El Padre and La Madre in the foreground
The summit appears in the distance
We take to the ridge crest
Calico Hills below
The East Peak of Damsel
Back at Brownstone Basin, looking for our way back through Calico Hills
Graycap on the left
Looking for the route back
La Madre Mountain 1:24,000 Topo (11.2 mi, 6952 ft, 3232 ft)
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