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Mt. Charleston summit hikes

Discussion in 'Misc. Vegas Chat' started by mattjs33, Mar 8, 2016.

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  1. mattjs33

    mattjs33 Low-Roller

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    So over the last few years my wife and I have started getting rental cars and heading up to Mt. Charleston one day of our Vegas trips. I never imagined myself the hiking type but it's pretty awesome getting up there and hearing just the breeze and not much else. We've only done a few different trails but are planning another hike this August.

    We've stepped it up each time and one thing on my bucket list is to climb a mountain. I have zero mountaineering skills so I had no idea how I would ever do that, up until I realized that you can hike all the way to the Mt. Charleston summit.

    It's a pretty grueling hike though, some say 8 hours one way, and if we try it my wife is saying she might be more comfortable with a guided hike or tour or something similar. We're still kind of novices and don't know what we don't know. It'd probably be best with a group that knew what they were doing, more so than we do.

    Firstly, has anyone here ever made a summit hike? And second, does anyone know of anybody offering guided summit hikes?

    It might not be Everest but it'd still be pretty cool to stand on top and say I made it.
     
  2. Jerry Snuggit

    Jerry Snuggit Tourist

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  3. chef

    chef Resident Buffetologist

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    Yes, I've done the summit several times and it is grueling in the sense that Mt. Charleston is the eighth most prominent peak in the lower 48. That doesn't mean it's the eighth highest, but more like the eighth steepest. That's why it is difficult to climb.
    Don't let that scare you away, though. It can be done in one day with an early start. There are two approaches - either the north loop or the south loop. Both are about the same difficulty and each 17 miles round trip.
    What makes Mt. Charleston doable for the novice are well-marked trails free of ruts, debris and foliage. It's a clean hike in that no bushwhacking is required.
    The best part of the South Loop is an expansive meadow halfway up. However, that bit of flatland makes the rest of the hike extremely steep and towards the top, there are no trees to protect you from the wind.
    A mile or two from the top are remnants from a U.S. military plane, circa 1950s. That's a nice diversion from the brutal switchbacks.
    The North Loop doesn't seem as steep because it is more of a gradual climb, as it doesn't have a meadow. That doesn't make it easier, though. The north route has a small spring for drinking water, but you sometimes it is dry, depending on the snow pack.
    Bring your own water for the whole way. Once you get to the peak, you can see all the way to Pahrump, the Vegas valley and maybe even Area 51. But, after hiking 8-12% grades, there needs to be some kind of payoff.
    If you want to work your way up to the Charleston hike, perhaps try Griffin Peak first. Like Charleston, it is still over 11,000 ft, but is a substantially shorter hike. It can be accessed from the South Loop trail.
    I wouldn't worry about needing a hiking guide. The park service did an excellent job on making the trails user-friendly. Virtually impossible to get lost.
    As far as the estimate of 8 hours one way, that moving super slow. We have no problem doing the whole thing 17 miles in less than 8 hrs.
    Another suggestion is to walk as far as you can and if you get tired, head back down. The return trip is much easier.
     
  4. mattjs33

    mattjs33 Low-Roller

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    Thanks for the replies. Maybe not this year but hopefully next if I can get my wife up to it. If it was just me, I'd give it a go, but she's more rational in the sense of "let's work our way up to it."

    Probably why women typically outlive men.
     
  5. Plaza Rep Earl Torreliza

    Plaza Rep Earl Torreliza Plaza Representative

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    I love going to MT. Charleston. If you get the answer you're looking for, please let me know! All I do when I drive up there is either drink hot chocolate at the lodge on the left, or hiking up Mary Jane falls.
     
  6. mattjs33

    mattjs33 Low-Roller

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    Chef, might I ask what certain things I'll want to have along on this hike? Previously on our short hikes we've literally just carried a few bottles of water and had some trail mix or energy bars with us. I've never owned a backpack but I would imagine I might want along a few more things that just some water.
     
  7. larryg

    larryg Low-Roller

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    The last time I checked, the South Loop to Charleston Peak was still closed, due to the Carpenter 1 fire in 2013 -- and no one was offering an opening date. Parts of the area had hundreds of large downed trees, and regulations prohibit the use of power saws -- although it appears that they could apply to use dynamite if they so chose!
     
  8. chef

    chef Resident Buffetologist

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    As far as I'm concerned, that's all a person needs - some water a little snack or two.

    I heven't heard yet either on South Loop officially being opened back up again.
     
  9. Flowers

    Flowers VIP Whale

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    Thanks OP for the post. I ran across this last night. I am not a hiker and not in good shape at the moment but my goal is to get in better shape by my birthday in August, where I'll be headed to Vegas again to celebrate. I'm planning another 10-day trip (woo hoo!) and am thinking about a one day-trip to Mt. Charleston, including hiking to the top, in the middle of the trip. If mid-July rolls around and I am not physically where I want to be I'll still plan to go but will enjoy a visit by car mostly and will still enjoy the sights!
     
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