February 8, 2014
The Funeral Mountains are a small desert range bordering the eastern side of Death Valley. The range is characterized by several long bands of limestone (many of which are hundreds of feet thick) which make up the mountains. The highpoint of the Funeral Mountains is Pyramid Peak, a picturesque feature located at the southern side of the range.
|Peak||Elevation||Topographic Prominence||Summit Coordinates (lat/lon)|
|Pyramid Peak||6,703 ft||3,720 ft||36.391894, -116.612181|
|"Trapezoid Peak"||6,259 ft||519 ft||36.41232, -116.6029|
|Eagle Mountain||3,806 ft||1,666 ft||36.211276, -116.356485|
Getting to the trailhead (Pyramid, Trapezoid): From Death Valley Junction, take CA-190 west. After about 11 miles, an easy-to-miss paved road will branch off left to an abandoned trailer park. Park here in one of several empty lots. The trailer park is located just outside of Death Valley National Park, and it is legal to camp there.
Getting to the trailhead (Eagle)
Trailhead coordinates for Pyramid & Trapezoid (lat/lon): 36.338730, -116.598772
Trailhead coordinates for Eagle (lat/lon): 36.213149, -116.379562
Pyramid Peak seen from a spot near the trailhead
After camping at the trailhead the previous night under pleasant temperatures, a large group of us (Dagmar, Craig, Bill, Sung, Mark, Greg, and I) set out for Pyramid Peak on Saturday morning at 7:25 am. We headed north across the desert floor aiming for a canyon between Pyramid Peak and an unnamed mountain to the east.
Red Team ready to rumble
Pyramid Peak route overview
About 2.8 miles from the trailhead, we branched off into a side canyon to the northwest (left) of the main canyon. The side canyon was not visible until we were standing at its mouth.
view of the turnoff into the side canyon from the main canyon
looking up the side canyon
Once in the side canyon, we followed it a short distance to its end, then continued north onto a ridge, clambering up some loose rock towards a saddle at 4,580 ft.
walking on marbles
From Saddle 4,580 ft, we turned left and followed the ridge northwest. This ridge would lead us directly to the summit of Pyramid Peak. What seemed to be the highpoint as seen from Saddle 4,580 ft turned out to be a false summit at 5,970 ft. After the false summit, a small use trail appeared here and there. Many portions of the ridge contained sections of sharp black rock which almost seemed to hurt when touched with bare skin. It would be bad to take a tumble on this terrain. This rock, however, was very firm, grippy, and several times better than the loose rock found below Saddle 4,580 ft. The ridge afforded very picturesque views of the surrounding terrain, which bore a mix of red, black, and white rock.
looking up the ridge from the false summit
true summit in view
About 1.5 linear miles NNE of Pyramid Peak was an unnamed peak bearing 519 ft of prominence. Because this peak looked like a lopsided trapezoid from the summit of Pyramid, I later dubbed it "Trapezoid Peak." Leaving my pack at the summit of Pyramid, I traversed to Trapezoid Peak along a connecting ridge which branched NNE off Pyramid. The traverse was mainly class 1-2, but included a short class 3 section shortly before Trapezoid Peak.
looking NNE from Pyramid Peak
views from traverse
looking back at Pyramid
The summit of Trapezoid Peak was not very eventful. The surrounding landscape looked drab and monochrome under the overcast sky. Just below the summit were a few old wooden stakes and some survey wire.
views from summit
I headed back the same way I had came- traversing back along the ridge towards Pyramid. When I reached Pyramid, the rest of the group had just left. I picked up my pack, which felt like it was filled with bricks.
a little surprise from Mark
We arrived back at the trailhead just before 2pm and decided to head for Eagle Peak since there were still a few hours of daylight to spare.
The route we had picked for Eagle ascended its West Face. From the trailhead, we headed east across the desert floor for a little under a mile, aiming for a series of gullies left (north) of the highpoint. We took the leftmost of three main gullies, the entrance of which was indicated by a faint use-trail. From here, the ascent was straightforward up to the main crest at a saddle at 3,440 ft, involving mostly class 2 terrain with short sections of class 3 thrown in here and there. We had the choice of either ascending directly up the chute, which involved a considerable amount of loose rock, or ascending one of several small ribs bordering the gully which contained more solid and sticky rock.
Eagle Mountain seen from the trailhead
ascending the leftmost gully & ribs
A small trail appeared at Saddle 3,440 ft, which headed briefly around the east side of the crest for a few hundred feet, then crossed back over to the west. A very well defined trail then headed south along the crest towards a rocky section not far below the summit. From here, the trail bypassed the rocks to the right (west), contoured for a few hundred feet, then ended below some class 3 rock. We scrambled up this short and enjoyable section to the summit.
beginning of the class 3
Bill on the summit
view towards the Resting Spring Mountains (foreground range) and Spring Mountains (background range)
views from descent
Stats for Pyramid Peak and Trapezoid Peak
6,000 ft gain/loss
Stats for Eagle Mountain
1,790 ft gain/loss
Trailhead (Pyramid, Trapezoid)
Pyramid Peak, Trapezoid Peak
Trailhead (Eagle Peak)