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Pigs in Zen Peak, Lonesome Peak, and Mount Stocker

Eldorado Wilderness, Nevada
April 11, 2019

What Eldorado Wilderness lacks in big peaks, it makes up for with stunning desert scenery. And by linking three peaks together in one trip – Pigs in Zen Peak, Lonesome Peak and Mount Stocker – it's possible to pack a lot of adventure in a short time. That adventure comes in the form of routefinding. While our route never exceeded class 2, seeking ways down hidden washes and over minor ridges was challenging, a veritable roller coaster ride.

Shin, Dinah and I parked at a pullout near the town of Nelson, two kilometers southeast of Pigs in Zen Peak. After climbing a low ridge, we had an unobstructed view of Pigs in Zen. Cliffs prevented a direct assault on its summit, but on the left we spied a break in the north ridge. Crossing undulating terrain, we made our way there.

After gaining the ridge at the break, we traversed the base of cliffs on the west side to the summit. Just below the summit we found a rocky chute that provided easy access to the top of Pigs in Zen. We signed the first of three summit registers. After taking a panorama (above), we started back down.

We got back below the cliffs and continued down, aiming for Lonesome Peak. After losing 160 m, we climbed to a low point on Lonesome's south ridge. From there we hiked up along the ridge, over a small false summit, to the top.

After a brief stay, we left Lonesome all by its lonesome. We went back along the ridge a short distance before dropping into a wash. We followed the wash to Oak Creek, a dry stream bed. From there we sought a huge, cube-shaped boulder that stood out on the lower slopes of Mount Stocker. The ascent gully is near this boulder, but hard to spot. We relied on GPS to locate it. Once we found the gully, we climbed to a break in the cliffs. Like Pigs in Zen, the final ascent followed the base of cliffs before they yielded to a chute leading to the top.

Of the three peaks, all close in height, we enjoyed Mount Stocker the most. Maybe it was the backdrop of the Colorado River and Lake Mohave, or maybe because the summit offered a more comfortable space to relax and have lunch.

Thus far, our route had resisted being easy because of the complex landscape, and getting back to our car was no exception. After returning down to Oak Creek we faced an intervening saddle to our car, nearly a 100 m ascent. That was followed by ups and downs over minor ridges. Fortunately the wonderful desert scenery eased the way, distracting us from the travail and we relished the final leg.

For this route we referred to Stavislost.com. Hands down, this is the best hiking website I’ve come across. Not only is it ridiculously easy to use, but it has over 800 trips ranging from class 1 to class 5. I was fortunate to meet the prolific hiker, Stav, for coffee in Henderson the day after our hike, and just hours before he “moved” to Utah. I say “moved” because this 28-year-old itinerant adventurer lives in his car, does web design for a living (Starbucks is his "office"), and travels all over the States to hike. Stav continues to knock off trips for his website at a prodigious rate.

KML and GPX Tracks


Pigs in Zen Peak seen from the pullout


After climbing over a low ridge we set off for the far end of Pigs in Zen


We headed to a break in the cliff band north of the summit


Drawing near the break


Looking down the break


After gaining the ridge, we made our way along the slope


To reach the summit (left), we ascended the chute between Shin and Dinah


Behind us is our next objective, Lonesome Peak


Going up the chute


There's a steep climb just before the top


Shin reads the summit register


Nelson Benchmark lies south


Our third objective, Mount Stocker, appears guarded by imposing cliffs


Heading to Lonesome Peak


To ascend Lonesome, we first had to lose 160 m


We headed to a low point right of Lonesome


Looking back at Pigs in Zen


After reaching the ridge we faced a steep climb ahead


We came across a young chuckwalla


The true summit seen from the false summit


On the summit


Summit panorama


Heading to Mount Stocker


The area holds some of the tallest yuccas we've seen


To reach the base of Stocker we lost 200 m. From here we headed to the solitary boulder on the skyline. The break in the cliffs is just after that.


As we approached the boulder, we looked for the ascent gully


Starting up the gully


Looking back at Lonesome Peak


Ascending the gully wasn't fun


After reaching the ridge, we made our way around cliffs


We traversed some distance to reach the base of the summit which was behind the point above us


We climbed a steep chute below the summit


There's the summit


Behind is the Colorado River and Lake Mohave


On top of Mount Stocker


Summit panorama


We retraced our steps back down Mount Stocker and headed to the saddle ahead


After starting up the other side, we were surprised to see a huge window at the end of Stocker (mouse-over)


The ascent to the saddle wasn't difficult, but it seemed long


Looking back after reaching the saddle


We dropped down into a wash and followed it a short distance


Owing to washes and low ridges, navigation back to the trailhead wasn't easy


We faced several minor ups and downs on the way back


After getting into our car and starting back, we spotted a turkey vulture by the roadside


1:24,000 Nelson Topo (5.2 mi, 3862 ft, 2572 ft)

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