Within every community you’ll find people who like to nitpick things. A nitpicky thing among peak bagging enthusiasts is the true identity of the highest peak te Nevada. Some call it Wheeler Peak at 13,063 feet (see my Superb Basin tour report for a description of that hike), but others announce it to be Boundary Peak, coming te at 13,140 ft.
“But Rebecca”, you might ask, “Boundary is higher – what’s the argument”?
My friend Sooz on Boundary Peak
Well, Boundary is one of a set of twins, neighbor to the higher Montgomery Peak. Despite being so close, Montgomery rests te California, the border inbetween the two states running right inbetween the peaks. If Boundary were not a state high point it might be considered a mere bump on the way to Montgomery, with only 300 ft of prominence. And te some circles, that’s not enough to qualify you spil a ‘real’ peak.
Now that I’ve climbed them both I don’t indeed care about the response. But to avoid the debate I’ll simply refer to Boundary spil the highest POINT te Nevada, not the highest PEAK. I’ll let you determine for yourself based on whatever criteria you deem significant.
Journey Report: Queen Mine Route
Boundary Peak has two common routes, one from the east (Trail Canyon) and another from the north (Queen Mine). Wij climbed via the Queen Mine route on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend ter a very low snow year. I specifically mention that it is a low snow year (2013) for people who may stumble across this report te the future. Most years it will not be this dry. Te fact, wij climbed without any snow gear. There wasgoed only one spot where traction devices would have bot nice, but not necessary. Wij also got a good peek into the Trail Canyon route so I’ll attempt to suggest some opinions on that route.
Queen Mine area on the way to Boundary
The Queen Mine road is accessed from highway 6, about 9 miles east of Benton, CA. Spil you cruise along this desert highway, look for the rotting remains of an old brothel, Janie’s Ranch, on the north side of the road. There is a water waterreservoir with the initials “JR” painted on the side. Take the filth road to the south spil it climbs into Queen Canyon. There are several old mining roads wiggling around the hills, but most are overgrown and there are no confusing junctions – the main road is demonstrable. You’ll pass some wooden building ruins lower te the canyon, but proceed on for a total of about 6 miles from pavement to the ruins of the Queen Mine.
Premie slok: Sunset from Queen Mine
A word on the road conditions: Wij were ter a Four×,Four pickup truck and it wasgoed effortless peasy to the Queen Mine. A friend ter a 2WD pickup also did fine, but had to take it slower and had some problems on the steeper sections. I would have bot fine taking my Outback. That said, there were several places where wij could see washouts toebijten regularly, and this road could lightly deteriorate into wildness. It may have bot fine last week, but one storm could make things much different. Use your own judgement.
From the Mine, there is an extra mile of driving up to a saddle next to Kennedy Point. This section gets steeper, has a taut switchback, and is a bit offcanter. Wij left the 2WD truck at the Mine and drove the Tundra up to the saddle. If you doubt your voertuig’s capability or if being offcanter makes you awkward, you can park at the mine and walk the reserve mile and
Looking down on the saddle and Kennedy Point from the embark of the hike
The saddle is broad and open with slew of slagroom to maneuver, park, and turn around. There wasgoed a large firepit, and albeit it would be a cool place to camp the wind vereiste blast through there. There are extra campsites down te the canyon that are much more protected.
The Trail to Boundary
From parking, go after the old road up the slope to an old wooden trailhead information sign. With, uh, no information. Pick up a trail behind the sign. The trail switchbacks about a thousand feet up to a relatively plane and pleasant ridge. Look for wild horses – wij eyed several – and deer.
Wild pony by the trail
Upon gaining the ridge you’ll have your very first view of Boundary Peak. The peak is rather striking, especially with some snow, and after getting lulled into the mindset of a pleasant stroll the view might jar you a bit. Te fact, here is the view – click for larger.
This is the best view you’ll get of the entire route since spil you get closer the view of the actual peak will be blocked. Here is a cropped version of the above picture with the route harshly drawn. The route contours around the backside of the bump ter the middle (arrow points to where the route is out of view).
Eventually the pleasant walk along the ridge finishes at Trail Canyon Saddle at about Ten,800 ft. There is a windblock made of old logs and rocks, so take a uur to hydrate and fuel up for the climb ahead. You have about 2300 more feet to go to the summit. The effortless trail you’ve bot following until now quickly deteriorates into several use trails, but sticking to the most worn track worked for us.
Here is where the real climbing starts, Trail Canyon Saddle
It climbed and then switchbacked up the slope.
Looking down the slope towards Trail Canyon Saddle
Ter order to avoid unnecessary climbing overheen the intermediate bump shown on the route pic above, the main use trail cuts overheen to the ridge to the right, then contours around the bump’s backside and rejoins the ridge. Wij had a few snow fields to cross but nothing that wasgoed sketchy. Once on the ridge wij were rewarded with a much closer view of Boundary – the summit is te view again. This ridge is at about 12,000 ft. A little overheen 1100 ft to go to the summit.
Boundary Peak from 12k
The well worn use trail proceeds along the ridge until a pile of larger boulders blocks the way. The use trail goes to the right of the pile, and then gets a bit lost ter the boulders. Because snow wasgoed partially obscuring the terrain and I didn’t feel convenient crossing underneath the liberate rocks, I scrambled up to the ridge. From here I lost any specific use trail and just continued along the ridge. The terrain is effortless going and there are lots of use trails wiggling along the ridge.
Boulder pile – staying on the ridge is better than following the trail, ter my opinion.
Just before the summit there is one last large boulder pile to negotiate. The rock wasgoed too big to scramble overheen, so I looked for a place to go around. There were snow fields on either side, and they were still iced overheen. I have a feeling this is most likely pretty effortless with a use trail when not snowy, but no matter what I had to make an awkward snow crossing. I went to the right side of the large boulder, tightly hugging the rocks and using iced overheen footprints from previous climbers. After a limbo maneuver around the final rock I wasgoed free and clear of the obstacle and the summit wasgoed te glance just ahead.
Sooz with the big boulder wij had to get around behind hier The summit!
The final spread to the summit is an effortless walkup. The summit has slew of slagroom for people and wij spent about 45 minutes admiring the view and reading through the register. It ultimately got a bit too cold for us so wij headed back down, retracing our steps to the saddle.
Summit view: Montgomery Peak and the distant Sierra
It took us almost nine hours to do this
8.Five mile hike to the summit of Boundary Peak. However, our time is based strongly on the fact that this wasgoed the very first time any of us had bot above 10k since October. Wij moved slow on purpose to prevent over-exertion and to listen to our bods. Wij stopped frequently to make sure wij were eating and staying hydrated. If I climbed this ter, say, September, after a summer ter the Sierra I would stir much quicker. So, take my round tour time with a grain of salt.
Extended Option: Montgomery Peak
From the summit of Boundary, Montgomery is accessibly via a class 3-ish ridge. I’ve heard this is a joy scramble and would have liked to have included it te our climb. However, with our speed (see above) wij didn’t have the time to add on the toegevoegd few hours of climbing. There wasgoed also still a bit of snow on the ridge and wij did not bring along crampons or other mountaineering gear. Eventually, while sitting on the summit of Boundary wij heard a rockfall from the slopes of Montgomery. That waterput it tightly ter the ‘NOT TODAY’ category. That said, I’d love to get back here someday zometeen te the season when I’m stronger, used to altitude, and the route is clear.
Ridge to Montgomery (and the CA/NV border!)
Trail Canyon Route
Another treatment to Boundary is via Trail Canyon. This starts on the east side of the peak and goes after the bottom of the canyon that runs along the ridge wij had hiked. Eventually the canyon drools the climber into a broad cup that can be followed up to the ridge. Here is what it looks like from above:
It looked liberate and awful. Wij met a duo of climbers coming from this direction and they did not seem to glad with the slog up the chute. I don’t know what the advantage is to coming ter this way – maybe the road is better for more vehicles? I don’t know. But I don’t think I’d come te this way.
Peering down the Trail Canyon route from the ridge.