Ibapah summit

There are 57 peaks in the lower 48 with at least 5000 feet of prominence (ultra-prominence peaks), including a disappointing number of range highpoints in the wastelands of Nevada and western Utah. In the past, I have used them as a way to break up drives between the Rockies and Sierra. Lying 50 miles of dirt from the nearest pavement, and over 100 from what passes for civilization in northeastern Nevada, Ibapah is about as close as you can get to the middle of nowhere. For this reason I had put off climbing it, and considered skipping it entirely. However, faced with yet another drive across Nevada, I decided to tag this last western ultra, leaving me only Mounts Washington and Mitchell back east, which I can hike when I retire.

Deep Creek range from the east

Following the approach description on Summitpost, I drove across Utah on I-80, then south from Wendover on US 93 before taking a series of progressively worse and more remote roads through Gold Hill. The occasional intersections featured BLM signs indicating that various ghost towns or natural features were disturbingly far away in some other direction. I had been driving since dawn, so when I reached an old Pony Express station around dusk, I camped there instead of continuing to the trailhead. The station had some BLM interpretive signs, and a register showing a surprising amount of traffic for such a remote location.

Climbing potential

The next morning, I drove down the east side of the Deep Creek range, then up the Granite Creek road to just past the first stream crossing, where I parked at one of a number of nice campsites. The road rapidly deteriorates beyond this point, becoming impassable for anything but ATVs within less than a mile. Unsurprisingly, the walls of Granite Canyon are decorated with various granite crags and spires; it would probably be a popular climbing destination if it were closer to civilization.

Starting up Granite Canyon

The road turns into a trail, which gradually fades as it climbs to the saddle south of Ibapah. I left this trail shortly before the saddle, heading cross-country below the spine of the range toward the summit. The crest itself is undulating and rocky in places, so the ascending side-hill traverse seemed faster. At the last notch before the summit, I was surprised to find a constructed trail switchbacking up the final slopes. It was probably built by surveyors, as I found a pile of bricks near the summit suggesting that Ibapah may have been a triangulation point.

North from summit

I noted a couple of familiar names in the register, surveyed the nearly-empty valleys to the east and west, then headed back toward my car. Rather than following the trail, I decided to do what Ted had done, dropping straight down a ridge to the south. This worked well at first, as I descended steep grassy slopes covered in granite boulders, then open woods. Unfortunately, the final half-mile or so to the trail was made miserable by undergrowth, making my shortcut only slightly faster than following the trail. Once back on the standard route, it was a pleasant jog to the car.

I cooked lunch, rinsed off in the creek, then started the long drive to California. Consulting my printed atlas, it looked like it would be faster to continue south on the main dirt road to highway 6, which leads all the way to Bishop. Indeed, this is a simpler and possibly even shorter approach to Ibapah for someone already on a cross-country drive. Less than a mile from the trailhead, exactly what I had dreaded occurred: I hit a sharp rock and got a flat. I yard-saled the back of my car to get at the doughnut spare, then spent the rest of the afternoon slowly driving 110 miles to Ely, where I arrived just before the tire place closed. Thirty minutes and $16 later, I was back on the road, putting in about a half of a Nevada worth of miles before camping in the Currant Mountains.

2 responses to “Ibapah

  1. Tom Gathright says:

    I too have been putting Ibapah off due to the long dirt road access, but your comment about the drive on the dirt road to the south toward US50/6 rekindled my interest. It still looks like about 57 miles of dirt going through Gandy, Partoun and Trout Creek. What can you update me on the condition of that road? Thanks a million.

    1. drdirtbag says:

      It’s generally in better condition than the roads from the Wendover direction, and much less confusing. The locals in pickup trucks were doing 40-50 MPH, and I was fine going about 30 on a donut spare. It’s only the last couple of miles to the “trailhead” that are a bit rougher.

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