Black Mountain Traverse

I traversed the Black Mountains in two sections, north of Dante’s View with Noe, Dylan and Ari in November 2020, and south (and west) of Dante’s View with Matt in January 2022.

Part I Dante’s View to the North

We drove Noe’s car up to Dante’s View, and left mine down on the road so we had something to aim for. We left my car near Nevares Spring, where I had ended my Funeral Mountain traverse.

The hike had spectacular views and good travel. We knew we couldn’t stay on the ridge too long though as it would cliff out. We were fully prepared to have to hike back to Dante’s View if we did not find a connecting ridge. We looked around and found one that seemed to go.

the crux
triumphantly back on flat ground

It was steep and a bit sketchy but it went! This hike may be better done in the other direction, as it is usually easier to go up then down. Bonus photos of us checking out some sites on the way out of the park:

Part II Southern Black Mountains Traverse

Matt was spending the month out in Death Valley, so I went out to visit him for a weekend. We set our sites on a partial traverse of the Black Mountains. Starting from Ashford Mill we made our way up Ashford Canyon, climbing 4500′ to Desert Hound Peak. The views from the top of the range were fantastic, and we watched the clouds dance on the Panamints in the distance. We wound our way north through the beautiful canyons and ridgelines. It began to sprinkle as night fell, and we foolishly did not bring a shelter. The Black Mountains are the driest range in the park, but in hindsight we should have been more prepared. By some miracle we found an overhang that kept us dry all night.

The next day, we climbed Funeral (6365′) and Coffin Peak (5489′), and planned to end at Dante’s View, but decided to make the over 5000′ in two mile descent to Badwater instead. Both Matt and I had had our eyes on this descent for quite some time, and were curious to see if there is a safe route connecting Dante’s and Badwater. Almost all ridges on this descent end in cliffs, but we had some beta on one that didn’t. We made the decision to attempt the descent fully prepared for the possibility of getting cliffed out and having to climb a mile back up.

Just as night set, we were about halfway down, and I realized I had lead us down the wrong ridge, so we had to climb 2000′ back up. Our spirits stayed high and we were determined to make it down that night, we hiked (sometimes scooted due to the loose and crumbly ridge) all the way down to Death Valley. It got warmer and warmer as we descended and finally we celebrated upon touching the sweet sweet asphalt of Badwater Rd. It was around 11pm when we got down to the Badwater parking lot.

As we were driving away we ran into some people who were a mile away from their cars and had been wandering around the salt flats since sunset, completely turned around by the vast scale of the Death Valley. As we drove them back to their cars we reflected on the truly massive scale of this place, and began to plot our next trip out into the desert.

Matt’s trip report: