Bizarre Route to Charleston (NV) & back

pics by Harlan W.S.
Oct 14, 2010


This was my 24th time on Charleston, and probably my 12th route.It’s getting hard to find new routes; I wanted something that would put me on established trails to Charleston as little as possible; I also wanted at least 5000’ elevation gain for the day.


I looked at Branch Whitney’s “East Face” route, and for some bizarre reason, decided to try the arÍte just north of his waypoints 1 and 2.This was certainly a memorable experience, but not one that I am likely to repeat.The 600’ vertical that I gained on the arÍte was extremely tiring; in part because I was solo and rehearsed every move, and in part because I did a lot of high-stepping to avoid loose rock. The arÍte was definitely class 4 or worse in places.At one point I found cairns, which led… to a bivy site, and then ended.



The red trace is my strange route; the blue is the conventional route (Trail Canyon – NLT – SLT) over Charleston.


View S as I start off down the trail to Mary Jane Falls.


Now I’m heading WNW through the wash.





I will eventually climb that cliffy lump ahead, exiting by the arrow.


There is much avalanche debris from the 2005 season, but I found it was easy to walk across the logs (though I would hate to try this in rain).


I originally intended to try Branch Whitney’s East Face route, which wound up this neat canyon.





There were a few odd foods left near the western dryfall; BW describes this dryfall as class 5, and urges one to ascend the earlier S wall. I could see where logs had been leaned against the dryfall in an attempt to climb.


This section of the dryfall is about 15’, from the horizontal line to the notch. With heady overconfidence, I assume I could mantle up.Alas, the final band was at least 6’, and the rock was worn smooth by water and sediment.


So rather than follow BW’s good advice to try the S wall, I retreated back and started up the arÍte to the N.Soon I saw an over-hanging wall, which I must find a route past.





OK, view N as I climb past the wall.


I’m actually above the wall; this view down doesn’t look creepy here, but trust me, it was.


I traversed and went on the R side of this pinnacle.





Now I look back S over the arÍte that I ascended.


I’m slogging up through steep forests, and get this “different” view of Chaz.


Finally I hit the NLT, and get this 1st view over into Lee Canyon.





I went over Lee Peak to avoid the trail as much as possible.


View of Mummy from Lee Pk.


I briefly used the NLT to get to Devil’s Thumb.





I’m looking up at the conventional route up the cliffs in back of Devil’s Thumb.But I recall that someone had asked me if the next chute S “goes”… so I guess I’ll try it!


The arrows show the normal way up the Devil’s Thumb shortcut. Alas, I am on a chossy chute to the S.


OK, at the top of the ridge, viewing Chaz, with a bit of remnant snow.





On top of Chaz.



I took the ridge to avoid the trail some more. View back at Chaz from ridge.





View ESE on ridge.



Now I start down the Cathedral Rock herdpath; I first heard about the route from Richard N.





View bac of my route from Kyle Canyon to the ridge.


More Mummy.


This is the vies E from the S end of Cathedral Rock.





What the…?There were carrots spread along the Cathedral Rock trail.


Cathedral Rock at ~3:30PM.Though the sum won’t set for nearly 2.5 hours, it is dark in the shadows.


Cathedral rock and yellow (avalanche-favored) aspens.





Cathedral Rock (L) and Mummy.

Then there was a long boring trek back to my car… and 8.5 hour day, much longer than I expected. 5300’+ elevation gain, but only 13 miles.