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Damsel Peak
aka Pincushion Peak
Red Rock Canyon NCA, Nevada
April 6, 2012

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.

MOVIE (posted on YouTube)

KML and GPX Tracks

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

Small arch

The summit appears in the distance

We take to the ridge crest

Calico Hills below

Summit pose

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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