Climbing The Sisters, or Finding a Corpse

The Sisters on a snowy October morning

It was only late October, but heavy snows had already fallen on the high Spring Mountains above Las Vegas. I asked a buddy of mine and his girlfriend if they were up for a romp up The Sisters, a fine winter mountaineering destination I'd been up several times before. They said okay!

Leaving Vegas one morning and heading up toward the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, we turned onto the dirt Macks Canyon road, making a last-minute decision to climb nearby Macks Peak instead.

We were about a mile up the empty road when we started to encounter significant snow and...a truck turned sideways in the middle of the road with its nose dipping into a gully. We stopped just before the truck and cursed the sonofabitch who had gotten stuck in the snow and abandoned his truck, causing us to either forego our plans for Macks or add many extra miles to the already full and snowy day.

It was then that we noticed a strange contraption, an unusual arrangement - there was a gardening hose coming out of the tailpipe, the other end of which led back into the driver's window, which had a bunch of duct tape over it. Hmmm...ut oh.

My buddy and I got out of the truck, telling his girlfriend to wait there. Carefully approaching the vehicle, we moved around to the driver's side and saw a man sitting there. His eyes were closed and we couldn't tell if he was breathing. He appeared to be deep in a carbon monoxide sleep...or dead.

Hmmm. We pondered whether we should break the window and drag him out. But what if he was desperate, had a gun, etc. We made another decision.

Quietly removing the garden hose from the tailpipe, we retraced our steps to my buddy's truck and backed out of there. The ski resort would be opening soon. Let's head up there and use the phone to call the police. And that's what we did.

Not one to let opportunities fly by, we made the most of what was becoming a clear and windless day in the mountains. The Sisters was quite accessible from the paved road, so we drove back down from the ski resort for a couple of miles and parked on the shoulder.

Starting up the snowy slopes below the mountain, we made good time despite punching through to our crotches for awhile. Eventually gaining the ridge leading east up toward the small saddle below the summit, we hit better conditions and the views expanded.

Reaching the saddle, I explained to my buddy and his girlfriend that a little bit of scrambling up a snowy chimney would be need to be negotiated to get to the narrow summit ridge leading to the highpoint. My buddy, afraid of heights, opted to wait at the saddle and visit the bristlecones growing there while his girlfriend and I continued to the top.

Easily working up the chimney, we stepped left and made the final scramble to the summit ridge. A short catwalk along the exposed, snowy ridge would take us to the highpoint.

And just then, Kelly stepped through a hidden cornice. Fortunately, only her right foot plunged through and she was able to grab on and escape injury or worse. Shewwww.
CP just before the summit

Reaching the summit without further incident, Kelly celebrated her first snow climb! We'd all but forgotten the guy in the truck in the snow with the hose.

*Bottom photo by Kelly