Sonoma Peaks


We visit Sonoma Peak, just east of Winnemucca, Nevada.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

The weather hasn't been cooperating much recently. Our really cool trip to the Beaverheads got cancelled, then so did our hopes for a loop in Christian Gulch. Then Notch Peak weather went south. Sad and dejected, we each spent hours observing NOAA forecasts and going over websites for ideas. Then Dave found a "hole" over Winnemucca. Nevada, here we come.

The next morning, there was indeed a hole of sunshine over the Winnemucca area. However, our peak was suffering from a syndrome I'll call the "hole of the donut". That's it in the clouds ahead.

I can't really complain. I just sat back and let Dave and Michael work the whole thing out, then asked where I should be and when for the long drive (ride, for me). I was enjoying being relaxed and oblivious of our itinerary.



Dave got us most of the way to the 'trailhead', despite the fresh snow. I kept suggesting, "We could walk from here", but I think Dave was having fun making me nervous about getting stuck.

Finally, Dave decided we could walk from here.

Miners Peak

The road ended on a rocky ridge. This was becoming much more sporting than the sagebrush hike I had envisioned. Hooray!

South Fork of the Salmon River

We found some more tracks farther up the ridge. The route finding was simple: Just head into the worst of the storm.

And then my camera batteries quit. I suppose I was taking this new "casual" thing a bit too far by not taking care of my equipment. So the remainder of the pictures were taken by Dave. So when you look at them, you'll notice that "Dave's not here."

Miners Peak close-up

We seemed to be right on track, because as we headed into the storm, the visibility dropped to about 50 yards.

Ponderosa forest
When it flattened out, we were pretty sure there was a summit somewhere nearby. Snowshoes
Oh, this must be it- the big pile of slippery rocks. The top of West Sonoma Peak. Upper ridge and lookout

Our next chore was to find the route off West Sonoma Peak, which descended a somewhat vague ridge. In the fog, we could not see any landmarks. Dave and Michael looked at the maps while I tried to find north with the compass in my watch, knowing full well that I had no idea what was the declination.

I also tried to fire up my GPS, but in the howling wind, my glasses were fogging up. I didn't have a map loaded for Nevada. The batteries were really low. And my GPS has a touch screen, requiring that I take off my gloves.

So we winged it a bit for the first 200' of drop, then I got behind a rock to fuss with the GPS. About the time I finally got the thing to function, the clouds lifted a touch and we could see which way to go. 30' away, we also found a track.

Approaching the cornice

So we cruised down to the saddle to start the next 700' of climbing. As we moved up the ridge, the sun was poking out occasionally, if only briefly. Hooray!


Summit of Sonoma Peak.

Nice view!

Summit ridge

We were seeing sunshine and blue patches occasionally, but for the most part it was still foggy, snowing, and howling as we descended towards our third peak for the day.

View from lookout

From up high on Sonoma, our next peak didn't look like much more than a little bump. But remember, Sonoma is a 4k prominence peak.



When we got down to the saddle, we were all pretty tired. Or at least I was. So from this perspective, the little bump looked pretty big. I was thinking of pleading my case for turning left and going downhill to the car, but then Dave said it was only 500'.

Really? Doesn't look like it. But I can always do another 500' (or so I think!). And heck- now it's sunny!

Blackmare Peak
This one required some fun, but slow, rock scrambling to get to the top. That's Sonoma in the cloud in the left background. Donut hole. Ridge
I'm not sure if we were too tired to get up for the summit shot, or Dave was too tired to ask and wait. Nick Peak

That fun rock scrambling to climb wasn't much fun on the way down. So we were very relieved to finally hit this lovely grass path back to the car.

Is it just me, or does it seem a whole lot greener than when we started?

Summit ridge

Map of our route.

If Dave gets his site back up, I'll put a link to his version here.