Panamint Butte - Unconventional Route

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Rockslide
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Panamint Butte - Unconventional Route

Post by Rockslide » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:07 pm

On Friday, April 13 I made it to the top of Panamint Butte, along a route which I've pondered before, and scouted out from several different angles, but had never made a serious effort at actually completing. There were two obstacles which I wasn't sure I could get past:

> At about 4,500' there is a steep, scary-looking, cliff-forming dark layer, with a similar cliff-forming white layer immediately above. From some angles this combination didn't look too bad; from others it looked impassible to those of us with poorly developed climbing skills and a strong sense of survival.

> There are several faults which cut across the face of the mountain. Not too far from here I was following a similar ridge route and was stopped by such a fault, and the associated 12' cliff face, just about 1/2 mile from my goal.

I'm sure that I'm not the first one to climb the mountain this way, but I couldn't find anywhere where it had been described, so I felt duty-bound to write something myself. For lack of creative inspiration, I've been calling this the "South Ridge" route, to distinguish it from the route which is in the DPS guide (the "North Ridge" route). When I have more time I hope to setup a slide show, but below is a pretty good sample of pictures I took along the way.

Panamint Butte, with the South Ridge route in red.
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The Topo USA view. I bought a new DeLorme Earthmate PN-20 GPS with my tax refund and this was it's maiden voyage. The waypoints shown were transferred from the EarthMate to Topo USA. BTW, I'm a left-hander, using a mouse on the right-hand side (one of the few times I conformed to the status quo), so don't expect those lines marking the route to be perfect.
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Eventually it's time to get out of the canyon and this is the best spot I found. Sorry about the flare; I tried twice to block out the sun and failed both times. It's easier to climb than it looks in this picture & you're better off to start up sooner than later (that way you come up right at the saddle).
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I made it past the intimidating-looking dark layer of rock & I'm about half way up the intimidating-looking white layer of rock.
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Hard evidence that I'm not the first human to walk this ridge...or could this possibly have fallen off the space shuttle?
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Getting close...
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Interesting rock, weathers into natural shingle-like pieces.
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Whew! While not, technically speaking, the top, this is where the view is the finest.
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The true top, with the almost-true top (where I just came from) in the background. Overall, I thought this was a pretty reasonable route to the top. The total distance is about 12 miles and the climb is about 5,050 feet.
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D.A. Wright
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Post by D.A. Wright » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:28 pm

Exhausting trip! Superb photos! Thanks for carrying us along in your backpack!

Question regarding your last photo - a.) The ammo can was already at the summit? I presume it had a log book or something. b.) The view is south into the Tucki Mountain area with a view down Death Valley along the left side?
D.A. Wright
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Post by Scott » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:53 pm

Outstanding report! I think it should be called the "Rockslide" route, which should discourage anyone from following in your footsteps!

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Post by Rockslide » Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:48 pm

Question regarding your last photo - a.) The ammo can was already at the summit? I presume it had a log book or something. b.) The view is south into the Tucki Mountain area with a view down Death Valley along the left side?
The ammo can was at the top already. It has a moth-eaten blanket inside, a binder with some stuff I didn't read (due to time constraints), and a log book.

The view is southwest, across Panamint Valley, with the Argus Range in the background. I don't know if you can see Tucki Mountain from Panamint Butte or not. Between Tucki Mountain and Panamint Butte is another peak which is higher than either one. I'm hoping to get back to DV in three weeks and hike up Tucki Mountain & will be able to tell then.
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Post by Rockslide » Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:53 pm

Outstanding report!
Thanks! :cool:
I think it should be called the "Rockslide" route, which should discourage anyone from following in your footsteps!\
Along the same lines, I thought about calling this "Loose Rock Ridge," but that description could apply to about 90% of the ridges in Death Valley. I haven't tried the DPS route from Big Four Mine Road, but I've talked to one person who has hiked it, and read about another (Snow Nymph) on this site and it sounds like the South Ridge route would be easier (though still plenty challenging).
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Post by D.A. Wright » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:59 pm

Rockslide wrote:The view is southwest, across Panamint Valley, with the Argus Range in the background.
Oh, OK. It didn't quite look right as far as Death Valley and the Panamints were concerned. Now I can tell which way you're looking.
D.A. Wright
~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.

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Re: Panamint Butte - Unconventional Route

Post by DesertDawg » Wed Apr 18, 2007 3:33 pm

Rockslide wrote:On Friday, April 13 I made it to the top of Panamint Butte, along a route which I've pondered before, and scouted out from several different angles, but had never made a serious effort at actually completing.
Outstanding! This is why I check this site everyday. Thanks for the report, pics, and especially the topo. I love hearing about different hiking routes.

I used to be more interested in the 4WD routes, but I've done just about all of them now. I'd need more than one lifetime to be able to say that about the hikes.

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Post by Lewis » Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:39 pm

WOW,

Breathtaking!

~Lewis
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desert varnish
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awesome hike, thanks!

Post by desert varnish » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:00 pm

Hey Rockslide,

I just hiked your route to PB. It was amazing. Thanks for sharing. I posted about the hike in Trip Reports.

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Candace_66
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Re: Panamint Butte - Unconventional Route

Post by Candace_66 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:16 pm

Bumping an old thread...

By chance, did anyone save the route map that was posted on this thread? If so, could you please re-post it here? Thanks!

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