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

Damsel Peak has been on my hiking partner's list for quite some time. Dinah 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 northwest through Calico Hills and its amazing red and white sandstone formations. Past the colourful Hills, draped in dull gray limestone, rises Damsel Peak. 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 northwest ridge to the summit. Towering well above Calico Hills, Damsel Peak offers fine desert vistas.

KML and GPX Tracks
MOVIE (posted on YouTube)


Starting from the parking lot, we'll soon follow a trail that heads to the right

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 became more complicated when we reached a basin


Here we unknowingly took a wrong turn and went the wrong way, but soon corrected it


Passing a small "tank"


Back on track, we started climbing out of the basin


We worked our way left around white sandstone


Eventually we climbed out of the sandstone maze


We headed in the general direction of Brownstone Wash


Finally we see Damsel Peak (left). We'll drop into Brownstone Basin below. (Click for a larger image).


A closer look at Damsel


After leaving Brownstone Basin we hiked 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 on the right


Small arch


The summit appears in the distance


We followed 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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