A Loop of Fire Benchmark and 'The Raven'

Where: Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
When: January 31, 2009
Partners: DB

Fire Benchmark from the north

I'd been wanting to get to Fire Benchmark, an obscure peak in the Muddy Mountains not far from Echo Bay, since Jason Pease first made mention of it. A rugged peak housing an interesting network of technical and semi-technical canyons, I was eager to explore its ramparts.

Knowing that Jason (joined by our friend Mike C.), as well as our friend Harlan S., had explored a couple different routes up the mountain before, DB and I set out to pick our own way up. Piecing together a somewhat convoluted (read: hard to describe) route directly up the mountain from the east, we got to the top and enjoyed the views.

With plenty of energy left, DB was easily talked into embarking on an exploratory traverse to a prominent peak to the south that I'd come to dub 'The Raven'. Dropping south along Fire's summit ridge, we soon angled southwest into the drainage below us and walked down-canyon for a bit until we could climb out the other side to a low saddle northwest of 'The Raven'.

Once at the saddle, we simply followed the undulating ridge to the summit of 'The Raven', so named for the cawing ravens we'd enjoy the company of during our subsequent descent.

Having spotted some significant cliffs on the northeast face of the peak, which we'd intended to descend, we picked our way down just enough to gain a gully that dumped us off in one of the many drainages that ultimately led to the car.

With some initial easy hiking in the drainage, it soon slotted up, and then a 2-rappel dryfall sequence presented itself. Intentionally leaving the rope in the car, we found a spicy bypass of both rappels that utilized a hidden ledge and a loose chimney then continued down-canyon.

Soon, we downclimbed a steep drop underneath a boulder and into a keeper pothole. A ledge on the ledge allowed us to bypass the keeper, immediately coming to a shallower pothole that we could bypass on the right. Before we knew it, we were walking easy desert back to our patiently waiting vehicle.
The Raven beckons

Photos courtesy of Harlan