Mummy Mountain NE Cliffs Descent | Spring Mountains | Mt. Charleston Wilderness, Nevada
Overview – Mummy Mountain NE Cliffs Descent, Spring Mountains Nevada
The Northeastern cliffs of Mummy Mountain are beyond avalanche slopes. I’d call them “avalanche cliffs” and I feel like a rolling stone! I’ve ascended these cliffs twice. Actually, there is no dramatic exposure, but the angle of descent is very steep and the surface is loose rock. I’ve looked down the cliff from the summit a few times and decided, “Not today!” Looking down is a lot more frightening than ascending, where you’re just hanging on and focusing on the ground immediately in front of you. Looking down reveals the extent of a potential fall.
Why Descend Mummy’s North Eastern Cliff?
So, there comes the obvious question, “Why even attempt to descend the Eastern cliff of Mummy Mountain?” Let me count the reasons:
- If I can ascend this stretch twice, I should be able to descend it.
- It’s Summer, the temperature in the Las Vegas Valley is 116 degrees today. It’s around 70-80 degrees on Mummy Mountain’s Northeastern cliff. Though the descent is a bit challenging, where else can I spend the day outside with a great view in comfort?
- If I’m to piece together a 6-peak circuit adventure including Harris Mountain, Griffith Peak, Charleston Peak, Lee Peak, Mummy Mountain and Fletcher Peak, descending this cliff is the one remaining section I have not yet done that completes this circuit.
- Near the end of the 6-peak circuit it should be relaxing to make this downhill stretch while recovering enough for the final peak, Fletcher Peak.
- Why not reverse the 6-peak circuit direction? I’ve actually taken that direction in parts. Because either psychologically or physically it tends to drain all my energy going in the other direction by the time I get to Lee Peak!
So, the Northeastern cliffs of Mummy Mountain are the “missing link” in the proposed 6-Peak Circuit Adventure. Again, what else can one do on a 116 degree Summer day?
Traction on the Avalanche Cliff
Secret weapon: 1-inch track spikes to provide additional traction while descending the avalanche cliff.
Trailhead Directions – Mummy Mountain NE Cliffs Descent, Spring Mountains Nevada
The route I took on this day to the summit is the route beginning at the Trail Canyon Trailhead just beyond Charleston Village in Kyle Canyon, described and documented by video on the Mummy Mountain West page of this site.
Route Observations for Mummy Mountain NE Cliffs Descent, Spring Mountains Nevada
Mummy Mountain Adventure Pages on Las Vegas Area Trails
To streamline this adventure description we’ll begin at the summit of Mummy Mountain. To see how we got to the summit, view the Mummy Mountain West page of this site which takes you from the Trail Canyon Trailhead to Mummy Mountain Summit. Another great description of this route is on the Mummy Mountain NW Cliffs page which takes you on the same route, but explores the Western cliffs on the opposite side of Mummy Mountain. There are a number of additional Mummy Mountain pages on this site which explore various areas of this, my favorite mountain in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness.
Locating the Northeastern Cliff Descent Chute from Mummy Mountain’s Summit
As you’re facing Mummy Mountain’s Summit and looking toward Angel Peak and the Sheep Range, look to your left to see a twin summit. Descending from that summit is a line of cliffs, and the NE cliff descent chute runs along the base of those cliffs.
Angle of Descent and Surface Conditions on Mummy Mountain’s Northeastern Cliff Chute
So, I headed over to the cliffs and began to descend. It’s a little unnerving to see what looks like a vertical drop-off every 25ft ahead of you on the way down the chute! However, every time you reach the edge of what looked like a sheer drop-off, a way appears down the next 25-50ft section. It was only the experience of having previously ascended this cliff chute twice that gave me the confidence to continue over each ledge. At one point near the summit I lightly tossed my hand-made yucca trekking poles ahead so my hands would be free to hold onto the rocks. Surprisingly, the poles began to slide and did not stop for about 100ft! This told me that I needed to keep a secure footing at all times — 3 points of contact — and never allow myself to slide. To add to the fun, the chute is dotted with thorn plants with 2-inch or longer barbed thorns as tough and sharp as metal needles!
There is a combination of steep slopes of loose rock ending in rocky cliff ledges that add challenge to this descent chute. My one-inch track racing spikes helped make every step more secure and added confidence.
Views Along Mummy Mountain’s Northeastern Cliff Descent Chute
Enough of the challenging part! The views along the way down are incredible. The combination of gray and bronze cliff faces on either side of the chute with ancient bristlecone pine trees amazingly growing out of the solid rock, along with views of Mummy’s Toes, Fletcher Peak, the La Madre Mountains, Angel Peak and other landmarks make this a magical spot.
Narrow Cross-Over Channel Near the Base of Mummy Mountain’s Northeastern Cliff Descent Chute
About 2/3rds of the way down the cliff chute you need to jog to the next channel to the right in order to avoid a 30-ft or more cliff drop-off. I had marked this cross-over point with a small cairn a couple years ago. The cross-over is not hard but does involve some class 4 down climbing for about 15-20ft. Then, there is the final 200ft narrow channel that ends at the beginning of the half-mile long avalanche slope at the cliff base.
Descending the Avalanche Slope at the Base of Mummy Mountain’s Northeastern Cliffs
There are actually 3 washes that form what looks like an upside-down river delta, so I refer to this larger canyon as Delta Canyon, though old timers in the area call it “The Fingers”. Descend the slope above and just to the left of the furthest wash to the left.
Navigating Through the Wilderness to Mummy Springs Trail
In about a half mile down the avalanche slope the 3 washes will converge, and this is where you want to take a sharp right to descend into and cross Delta Canyon. You’ll then ascend the opposite ridge, cross into a “Middle Canyon”, ascend its opposite ridge, cross over into a third canyon and angle down its opposite ridge to meet up with the Mummy Springs Trail at its first and lowest switchback.
There are no trails on this wilderness route and it may seem complicated, but if you stay pretty much parallel with the Mummy Mountain Cliffs and basically keep an even altitude, the route is not difficult and only takes about 30-45 minutes. You’ll be able to nail the location of the lower Mummy Springs Trail switchback because it is marked by a series of fallen trees that form a tee pee shape arching over the Mummy Springs trail. This is documented and described in the video and slide show.
The Stretch from Mummy Springs Trail Back to the Trail Canyon Trailhead
Once on the Mummy Springs Trail it’s an easy 10-15 minutes to Raintree, another 20 minutes to the junction of the North Loop Trail and Trail Canyon Trail, and about 30 minutes to the Trail Canyon Trailhead. I was running much of this final stretch on the trails, so adjust the time according to your speed. Curiously, the time of this entire adventure was 10 hours to the minute, lengthened a bit by a few rest stops, over an hour of video filming and the slow 2-hour or longer descent down Mummy Mountain’s Northeastern cliff chute.