Eagle Moutain Scrambling in Death Valley

As I researched the next hike for Manny and I, a short class 3 scramble seemed like a good next step. We had been on plenty of class 2 hikes, and my intuition told me that once Manny tried some class 3, he’d been hooked. I was right. Like many of the hikes in the Death Valley Area, Eagle Mountain is a relatively small mountain that stands alone in the vast desert plain. Somehow this aesthetic gives this mountain a lot of personality – and great views.

The warmup on this hike was pretty short. We left the car, and within 10 minutes, we found ourselves scrambling up extremely steep terrain. In fact, as we approached the mountain, the drainage we were headed toward looked so steep that I wondered if it was climbable. I checked my GPS a few more times just to make sure. There was a class 4 dry fall on the right, but to the left, there was a class 2 route that ascended 1000 feet.

The steep initial approach

We ascended the drainage quickly. Fortunately, the mountain is all volcanic rock, so the footing and handholds were extremely grippy. This allowed us to move quickly on steep terrain with sure footing. When we got to the top of this drainage, we took a short break, then traversed on a faint social trail to a class 3 summit ridge.

Manny taking a break on the saddle
Bryan taking a break
The traverse toward the summit
We are able to climb up toward the summit ridge behind this buttress

I brought a short rope and slings to protect ourselves, but in hindsight, I don’t think we needed it. That said, bringing the gear allowed me to reacquaint Manny with the practical use of protection on class 3 terrain. Manny served in the military, so all this came back to him quickly. The scrambling was a blast, and even the decent was fun. If the mountain was smooth granite, the descent would have been pretty sketchy and miserable. But because it was volcanic, all of the rock was surfaced with a fine layer of tiny knives that gripped our boots like glue. Falling on this rock would be a bloody affair, but fortunately for both of us, no one fell. There is an endless supply of class 3 scrambling in the American Southwest. Manny and I are both looking forward to doing a lot more of it in 2023.

The Eagle Mountain Summit

Elevation Profile

Route Map