Strategy for the Six Peak Circuit In the Spring Mountains, Nevada
Harris Mountain (10,014ft), Griffith Peak (11,056ft), Charleston Peak (11,918ft),
Lee Peak (11,289ft), Mummy Mountain (11,528ft), Fletcher Peak (10,319ft)
Revised 6-Peak Circuit Strategy:
This strategy conserves energy both at the beginning and at the end of the run by starting with Harris Mountain and ending with Fletcher Peak. Beginning at 3:00pm helps ensure that the nighttime stretch is on good trails instead of traversing the wilderness. I successfully completed a 4-Peak Circuit in the Summer of 2019 running in this direction.
5-Peak Circuit Attempt:
This and another attempt taught me that the circuit direction makes a great difference. Attempting from Fletcher Peak to Mummy Mountain to Lee Peak to Charleston Peak to Griffith Peak and finally to Harris Mountain drains too much energy at the beginning of the circuit. Therefore, I created the above video with a revised 6-Peak strategy which goes in the opposite direction beginning with Harris Mountain and ending with Fletcher Peak.
Overview of the Six-Peak Circuit in the Spring Mountains, Nevada
Note: All images on the slide show on this page were pieced together from previous climbs. Once I’ve completed the 6-Peak Circuit I will post images taken along that route on the day of the adventure.
It is possible to complete a six-peak circuit in the Spring Mountains, Nevada in one day. This adventure is pretty remarkable in that it involves summiting 6 peaks, each over 10,000ft in less than 24 hours! Your total distance will be about 28 miles, total altitude gain about 10,000ft and total time about 17 hours. This achievement will take some serious strategy and conditioning. The strategy and conditioning came together during an attempt in the Fall of 2019 in which I set out to complete five peaks but only made the first two! How could that be? I think I have the answer which I have documented on this page.
Once I’ve completed the Six-Peak Circuit in the Spring Mountains, Nevada, I’ll create a page documenting the adventure. I project this to happen during the Summer of 2020. At that point my age will be 64.
Which Peaks Are in the Six-Peak Circuit in the Spring Mountains, Nevada?
In order of ascent:
- Harris Mountain (10,014ft)
- Griffith Peak (11,056ft)
- Charleston Peak (11,918ft)
- Lee Peak (11,289ft)
- Mummy Mountain (11,528ft)
- Fletcher Peak (10,319ft)
Strategy for the Six-Peak Circuit in the Spring Mountains, Nevada
What time of Year to begin the Six-Peak Circuit in the Spring Mountains, Nevada
The first strategic question is what time of year is best for this circuit adventure?
You’ll need both maximum daylight and a snow-free route. The most difficult stretch is below the North side of Charleston Peak where snow on the avalanche slope trail can create dangerous conditions, the potential of getting off-course and otherwise slow you down—and you’ll need to maximize every hour of daylight. I got off course going down the North Side of Charleston Peak in early July, 2019 due to snow, so my best suggestion is go for later July. Of course, the snow pack in 2019 was uncommonly thick, so you might scope out the North side of Charleston Peak during a conditioning trip in June. However, if you’re stopped by snow during that conditioning trip, you’ve lost a day of high-altitude conditioning during the crucial month of June, so my best wisdom is to stick with late July.
What time of day to begin the Six-Peak Circuit in the Spring Mountains, Nevada
Even in late July when the days are longest and the trails are snow-free, you’ll want to ensure most wilderness areas are traversed during daylight hours, and while you’re in the dark you’re traversing good trails. Therefore I suggest a 3:00pm start which puts you at Griffith Peak by nightfall giving you the greatest chance of traversing good trails from nightfall to sunrise.
Circuit Direction for the Six-Peak Circuit in the Spring Mountains, Nevada
The Spring Mountains in Nevada create a natural circuit which begs to be completed in one day. Two trailheads: The South Climb Trailhead at one end at the base of Cathedral Rock and the Trail Canyon Trailhead at the other end make it possible to complete the circuit entirely. Park at one trailhead, take a one-mile very good asphalt road to the other trailhead and complete the circuit ending where you parked. I’m going to add a little challenge: To complete this entire circuit on foot, you’ll need to use just one car and make the one-mile trip between trailheads on foot. I suggest you park at the trailhead where you will eventually complete your adventure in order to avoid having to walk that last mile of asphalt road when you’re likely to be very tired.
The next strategic question is, which direction to go?
My Best Wisdom Regarding the Direction to Loop
However, both directions have their advantages and disadvantages and here they are.
Parking at the Trail Canyon Trailhead and starting by summiting Harris Mountain
This IS my best choice as the disadvantages seem to outweigh the advantages.
Once you hit the summit of Griffith Peak, the rest of the route seems easier, and the longest stretch from Charleston Peak to the finish feels more like a downhill excursion. Also, in terms of overall energy, this direction is easier. When your energy is most spent near the end of the circuit you’re taking it easy sliding down the Northeast side of Mummy Mountain, regaining your strength to ascend the final summit: Fletcher Peak.
I see no major disadvantages to this circuit direction.
Parking at the South Climb Trailhead and starting by summiting Fletcher Peak
This is NOT my best choice as the disadvantages seem to outweigh the advantages.
The longest stretch from the beginning to the summit of Charleston Peak is more uphill and energy draining. So, in terms of energy expenditure, this direction is harder and could turn your six-peak circuit into a 2-peak circuit by the time you finish ascending Mummy Mountain.
I see no advantages to attempting the circuit in this direction.
Wilderness Stretches to Decide
There are 4 wilderness stretches on this circuit. You pretty much need to walk these stretches due to the rough terrain.
This wilderness route is described in text and on video on the Griffith/Harris Circuit page of this site.
There is an upper wilderness route between Lee Peak and Mummy Mountain along the top of the North ridge of Kyle Canyon. It’s a bit tricky and adds about one hour, but saves ascending and descending 1,500ft. That extra hour can be a time to relax and recoup energy for the rest of the circuit.
You can make it from Mummy Mountain to Fletcher Peak via the North East side of Mummy Mt. Descending this route via the fairly steep avalanche slope might be restful. Use your hands to lower yourself, and even slide a bit (a kind of effort with a different set of muscles you will have not have used prior to this point). This wilderness stretch takes about 5-6 hours when ascending in the other direction and should take between 3-4 hours when descending. Taking this wilderness stretch saves descending and re-ascending about 1,500ft which is what would happen if you took the other route descending the West side of Mummy Mountain to the Trail Canyon/North Loop junction and then reascending 1,500ft to the summit of Fletcher Peak.
Suggested Route Directions Around the Six-Peak Circuit in the Spring Mountains, Nevada
Park at the Trail Canyon Trailhead about 2:30pm and by 3:30pm you’re taking the asphalt roads to the South Climb Trailhead where you arrive about 4:00pm. From the South Climb Trailhead head through the wilderness just above the Rainbow Subdivision then ascend to Harris Mountian summit, arriving about 6:30pm. (About 3-4 miles)
Take the saddle between Harris Mountain Summit and Griffith Peak arriving at Griffith Peak about 9:00pm. (about 3 wilderness miles).
Rest about 20 minutes on Griffith Peak summit and light up your headlamp for the night trip to Charleston Peak (by 12:00am) and then onward to the summit of Lee Peak. (about 3:00am) At the base of Lee Peak you’ll be taking a left and leaving the North Loop Trail to head through a .25-mile wilderness stretch to the summit of Lee Peak. It may still be dark, but as long as you stay just below and to the right of the top of the ridge the route is pretty easy.
Take a right at the summit of Lee Peak and descend through another wilderness stretch and head down the ridge, staying just below and to the right of the top of the descent ridge until it reconnects with the North Loop Trail (about .25 miles). Take the North Loop Trail to a point about .25 miles before it begins to descend from the top of the North ridge of Kyle Canyon. (It’s now about 4:30am and the beginning of sunrise). Instead, take a left to the top of the North ridge and traverse the wilderness area along the top of the North ridge taking a left at the end of the North ridge to summit Mummy Mountain through the V-shaped final summit approach canyon. (It’s about 7:00am on the summit of Mummy Mountain) See the Mummy Mountain West page and the Fletcher, Mummy, Lee Circuit page for directions through this wilderness area. Most of this stretch should be in daylight.
Descend Mummy Mountain via the North East route then traverse the wilderness to the Mummy Springs trail and on to Raintree. (3-4 miles) Take a left at Rain Tree onto the North Loop Trail for about 1000 ft. until you reach a point where a large fallen tree once blocked the trail but the section over the trail has been cut away leaving half of the tree on each side of the trail. Take a right here onto the Fletcher Peak Trail and then on to the summit of Fletcher Peak (about 1.5 miles). (It’s now about 11:00am)
Descend Fletcher Peak taking a left at the North Loop Trail, then back to Raintree where you will take a left and descend the North Loop Trail 2 miles to the junction of the Trail Canyon Trail. Descend the Trail Canyon Trail 2 miles back to your starting point at the Trail Canyon Trailhead. (It’s now between 1 and 2pm) You’ve completed the 6-Peak Spring Mountains Circuit summiting 6 10,000 ft peaks in less than 24 hours!
Distance, Altitude Gain and Time Estimates:
Total estimated distance: 28 miles.
Total estimated altitude gain (counting both ascent and re-ascent): 10-11,000ft
Total time estimate: 17-20 hours
Conditioning for the Six-Peak Circuit in the Spring Mountains, Nevada
We’re assuming you’re running about 6 miles/day 5 days/week, resting one day and doing one of the following adventures one day/week.
Base Conditioning of 8,000ft by June 1st:
Conditioning to 11,900ft and 20-mile Mountain and Wilderness Distance by Late July:
From June 1st begin by alternating summiting Mummy Mountain 11,500ft (From the Trail Canyon Trailhead – Mummy is snow-free first in the season), Griffith Peak and finally Charleston Peak (from the South Climb Trailhead).
Lighter Rest Adventures
Also seed in a few shorter adventures to give your body a rest. I suggest Bristlecone Pine Trail, Rain Tree and Fletcher Peak from the North Loop Trailhead and Cockscomb Ridge (from Trail Canyon area).
By this point it’s late June and you’re ready for the 6-peak circuit! You now are altitude conditioned, physically conditioned and you know the route.
Again, see the video on this page for an example of what could happen if you attempt a circuit adventure under-conditioned. See the 4-Peak circuit page as an example of the level of conditioning that could handle a 6-peak circuit adventure.