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Polytick Peak (attempt)
Lake Mead NRA, Nevada
January 16, 2019

It's not often that I come across an obscure peak that leaves me awestruck, but Polytick Peak is one such peak. I'm no stranger to sandstone peaks – Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire have popular hikes through red sandstone – but Polytick stands out as it's both unknown and spectacular.

Our trip began from a pullout on Northshore Road. Dinah and I set off across the desert flats toward Polytick Peak. After hiking just over a klick, we reached Callville Wash North Road. One could drive the dirt road to this spot, but it's better left to 4WD vehicles. We crossed the road and continued to Polytick, heading to a rise that we would cross before dropping into a wash. Although we found ourselves at the base of Polytick, the slope of gray rock was too steep to tackle head on; we turned right and followed the wash to the Bowl of Fire, an area known for its brick-red sandstone formations.

We turned left and sought the steep ramp that leads to a plateau on the north side of Polytick. After crossing the plateau, and after going over a low ridge, the peak came into view. Its gray slabs stood out in stark contrast to the red plateau. We started up the slope.

We had no trouble reaching a spot just below the summit. But here, steep slabs were an obstacle to our summit bid. I scrambled up as high as I dared, stopping when the steep, smooth rock above me offered little purchase. Perhaps one could climb higher where two slabs met at a corner, but I wasn't comfortable with trying it. I was about a dozen metres below the summit when I turned around.

Fortunately, we could reach an easier point, the northeast subpeak. We dropped down to a saddle and hiked the sandstone monticule in no time. Although dozens of metres lower than the main peak, it still offered a commanding view of the Bowl of Fire.

We returned the same way, which gave us a chance to revisit the interesting nooks and crannies we had passed earlier. Although we didn't summit Polytick Peak, here was a trip where the journey through crimson rock was more appealing than the objective.

KML and GPX Tracks


Polytick Peak seen from the road


Drawing closer to Polytick


We'll cross the rise in front of us and drop down into a wash


Starting up the wash


We passed under Polytick


We'll soon enter the Bowl of Fire


We need to turn left here, but first we wanted to take in the view ahead

View of the Bowl of Fire


After turning left into a wash, we saw the ramp (above Dinah) that we'll ascend


Behind us is Murphy's Peak


We were surrounded by unusual sandstone formations


We stopped to investigate a canyon next to the ramp


This toddler's winter boot is a strange find here


Ascending the ramp


Looking back down the ramp


At the top we turned right


We hiked through a short canyon


After the canyon we crossed a plateau and kept right


Beyond the ridge ahead is Polytick


We headed to the saddle left of Polytick


Looking back as we ascended


A huge pinnacle appeared ready to fall down on us


Looking back after passing the pinnacle


We're close to the summit


I started scrambling up just below the summit. Notice the steep slabs above me,


Looking down at Dinah from as high as I got, about 12 m below the summit


We turned to the red subpeak above the saddle


Looking back at the slope we climbed


It only took a few minutes to climb the subpeak


Posing on the subpeak. Behind us on the right is Anniversary Narrows Peak.


Callville Bay 1:24,000 Topo (4.8 mi, 2615 ft, 771 ft)

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