Monday, September 25, 2006

Boundary Peak, NV

Highpoint #5
13,143 feet ASL

The night before my hike of Boundary Peak didn't start out as I had planned. My original plan was to come down off Mt. Whitney, drive over to Boundary Peak, spend the night camping, then wake up in the morning and hike. But altitude sickness coming down off Mt. Whitney put me in no mood to drive or camp for the night. Instead, I decided to spend the night at a motel with the four others who had summited Mt. Whitney with me that day. The was the right move, because the next morning I felt quite refreshed. I grabbed breakfast with my fellow summiters, which took longer than expected (2 hours). I was beginning to wonder whether I could even make it to Boundary Peak in time to complete the hike.

At 10:15, I left the motel and headed out for Boundary Peak, Nevada stopping to pick up an alarm clock and plenty of energy goo and electrolyte powder. At 11:45am, I arrived at Janie’s Ranch, the entrance to the gravel road, which takes you to the Queen Canyon Trail route. The road up to the 4 wheel drive road wasn't that bad, just very dusty. (However, if wet, it might be a different story.) By 12:10pm, I had my daypack on and started up the 4 wheel drive road to the official trail of Boundary Peak. However, when I arrived to the stated trailhead, all of the hike information had been stripped, leaving only an empty board and some posts.

My thought was that I would only complete part of the trip before having to turn around. I was completely ready to do so if the weather got to cold, or I felt tired, or sick, or if time got too late. As I went though, I realized I was making pretty good time, I felt physically great, and the weather could not have been better. The first three miles of the trip were fairly easy, with a long stretch of practically level ground. By 2:15, I had made it to Trail Canyon Saddle and the start of the real climb, which consists of scree, rocks, and more scree. I started up. I kept going and going, little bits at a time. It was hard, but definitely not impossible. I found that small steps on the scree worked well. Another technique that worked was to use the larger rocks as steps.

Eventually, I knew there was no turning back, I could make it to the top of Boundary. The only other difficult part of the trail is trying to stay on it, especially near the top. The trail often splits into two. There are many cairns to guide you and even some painted rocks indicating the way, but even so I lost the trail several times. Eventually, you can get back on the trail by moving towards the ridgeline, but it can be tricky in parts. At 4:15pm I made it to the apex and it was beautiful. I would even say that I enjoyed this peak more than Whitney because 1) I felt better and 2) there was no one else on top. Judging by the summit register and the fact I had seen no one on the trail, I was the only one to summit today. I found a NGS survey marker at the top of this peak. The only disappointing moment was that I could not find the geocache at the top of Boundary. However, it may not exist anymore. I stayed for about 15 minutes and started down.

The descent is what I would call scree skiing. I was so thankful that I had gaiters, otherwise the descent would have been miserable. I made it down to Trail Canyon Saddle and picked up the pace. However, I began to get worried. I had remembered reading that this was rattlesnake country and I had seen numerous holes in this section coming up. However, I couldn't be sure they were snake holes. I thought they may have even been small rodent holes. I soon learned this was not the case. Soon after passing the saddle, I thought I saw a scaly head in one of the holes, but I couldn’t be absolutely sure. I pressed on with a little more caution. Nearing the last mile of the hike, I became certain that these were definitely snake holes. As I passed a hole, there staring at me was the distinct rattlesnake head. I quickly snapped a picture and finished the rest of the hike with full caution and worry. What if I got bit? Could I make it to the car, would I be able to drive? I did not know. Thankfully, I did make it back to the car with 0 venomous-filled puncture wounds. I arrived just before 7:10pm, as the sun was setting. A 10-mile hike with over 4000 feet of elevation gain in under 7 hours. Not bad, especially for someone who is used to breathing air at 100 ft ASL.

Waiting at the car were two hikers that were going to hike Boundary the next day. I had a good conversation with them. They liked to bag 14K peaks. It got cold quickly, but I was soon in the car with the heat cranked. On the way down, I nearly hit three jack rabbits. You have to watch out for those critters.
I didn’t know exactly how I would make it back to the Reno airport. I could tell I was pretty worn out. I did find a small diner and ate dinner around 8:00pm. I stayed until 9:00pm trying to sleep at the table. As I headed onto Route 120, I realized this would be a good place to catch some cat naps. The road was basically deserted. I passed no more than 5 cars on over 40 miles of road. There were also several fun dips in the road you could hit going 60mph. I made it to Reno Airport by 3:00am and was safely on the flight by 6:05am. Trip successful.

GPS Data
  • You can download the Google Earth Track file (.kml) of my ascent hike here.
  • You can download the GPS Trackpoint file (.gpx) of the gravel road drive and the ascent/descent here.
  • You can download a waypoint file (.gpx) of the Queen Canyon Mine Route here.
(Note: To download the file, left click on the link and follow the instructions. Right clicking and pressing save as didn't work for me.)

My Route

Boundary Peak via Queen Canyon Mine Trailhead at EveryTrail

Elevation Profile

Topo Map


john carr said...

Hi Brian. I'm thinking about climbing Boundary and Humphreys Peaks in early March. I haven't see where anyone has done Boundary at that time of year. Do you know if there's ice and snow there?


John Carr
Altoona, PA

PattyLM said...

Brian, where is the motel you stayed in before climbing Boundary Peak, and what is its name?

Which route did you take to get to the trailhead?

We will be driving an ordinary sedan to the trailhead. Do you think such a vehicle can make it?

We want to climb it in July, but we are having difficulty figuring out how to get there in ample time to summit and return. The person I hike with doesn't want to camp.

BW said...


The motel I stayed in was nearer to Mt. Whitney, than Boundary Peak. It was called the Dow Villa Hotel in Lone Pine, CA. It was probably a 2+ hour drive to Boundary Peak. I would think you could find something closer, but I wouldn't know where.

I took the Queen Canyon Trail route. I thought it was a good route. The first few miles is steep, but pleasant. You then get a nice relaxing flat section, before the final ascent of steep scree.

The road to the beginning of the trail contains some ruts, but is drivable for a two-wheel drive sedan if the road is not wet. I would stop at the mine entrance and then hike the rest of the way to the actual Queen Canyon Trailhead. I wouldn't go past the mine entrance in a vehicle unless you had 4 wheel drive and a good amount of clearance.

One day is ample for this trip, if you keep a decent pace. But be prepared for bad weather, just in case and make sure you have plenty of liquids.

go1bucs said...

Brian...Nice trip report and website. I summitted in early November of 2006 starting at the Trail Canyon trail head. I never once thought of rattlesnakes...wish I would have though! Some of your other posters have questions that I might be able to answer (or at least give an opinion). I tried Boundary in 2004 starting from the trailhead at Trail Canyon. The drive in is not a problem for any vehicle, from this direction. I used the vehicle as a tent to get an early start. Didn't help. I kept losing the path as you described, but I had a hell of a time finding the route and eventualy ran out of time. In 2006 I left Vegas at 3:30am and arrived at the trail head at 8am. This time I focused on the cairns and mutiple trails and eventually made it. It made for a long day. I could have knocked a few hours of the drive by staying in some of the small towns on the way. I think there is a benefit to sleeping at the trail head (roughly 8k feet), as Vegas and home (Tampa) don't prep the body for altitude very well.
Good luck on your future climbs. Really like your website.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog Brian. I particularly like your gps route and elevation graph. Being a longtime resident of Nevada and hiking a majority of Nevada's highpoints, I think you are unnecessarily scaring people about rattlesnakes. For one, I've never seen a rattlesnake that didn't see me first and thus give me the rattling warning. Second, rattlesnakes do not live at 11,000 feet plus on the side of mountains (you'd be lucky to see one above 6,000'). Too little air, food and most importantly too cold at that altitude.

Korine said...

Nice description, thanks! I'd love to download the .kml and .gpx files, but I get an error message. "This site can’t be reached’s server DNS address could not be found."
Would it be possible for you to email the files, or make them available again? Thanks!