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Towne Pk dayclimb & Plane Crash Site in DV, CA
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Sunday, 6 March 2005
A few weeks ago I posted a trip report for a day-climb we did to Panamint Butte. Rick Kent (Snow Dude and I met him in Williamson Bowl last summer) replied that he had also done the peak, but from the east (we did ours from the west). As he was hiking, he noticed what appeared to be a semi-intact plane on the west ridge leading to Towne Peak. After first reaching Towne Peak, he hiked 1000' down to have a closer look at the plane and take pictures. With all the replies to the thread, someone even uncovered the story of how the plane crash occurred. (http://www.arcassn.org/albatross.htm) On Jan 24, 1952, the crew of six bailed out of an AF Albatross, heading for San Diego, over Death Valley when one of the engines failed. The plane landed on a steep slope west of Towne Peak, on its own, in the dark, one engine running, intact. After reading the story, I naturally wanted to see it in person, so we scheduled a hike for Sunday, March 6th.
Bishophiker was supposed to do the Death Valley Double Century (200 mi bike ride) on Saturday, March 5th, but came down with a chest/head cold earlier in the week. Instead of wasting the $90 entry fee, Calhiker decided to do the ride in his place, even though he had just 2 days notice and hadn't been doing any long distance training.
We met up at Townes Pass Sunday morning where we began our hike to Towne Peak and the crash site. Calhiker was struggling on the steep terrain after his all-day ride the previous day, but once we reached the summit and headed down to the Albatross, he got his second wind and took off. It was amazing being there on the steep slope with the plane as it sat quietly, except for a creak or groan every once in a while. The slope angle was 38 deg (learned to do this in the avy class) and footing was tricky sometimes. Remnants from the plane were also visible down below in the rugged canyon. After 1/2 hr we headed back up the ridge to Towne Peak. Now the temperature was 45 degrees, and the cold wind was starting to bite. My knees were hurting, and with the uneven terrain, it really slowed me down on the descent. Calhiker seemed to be back to normal. We saw an amazing sunset on the way down, and hiked the last hour by headlamp.
Photos from Saturday, 5 March 2005 http://community.webshots.com/album/289943357HgVFgp
Solo weekend for me, since SnowDude was traveling for work. I took my 156 Prior Khyber splitboard on the mountain to get the feel of making turns on a bigger heavier board. Toe turns were awesome, but the heel turns sucked. After looking at it, the back heel was hanging off the back of the board. The board feels great, but I need practice.”
Justin that shot of you ridin' thru the flowers is so cool...nice shot bishophiker!
Corrine....you mean to say that the 8th wonder of the world had trouble hikin' the next day after doin' a double century?
Oy Vey.....he must be loosin' it!
Cool shots of the plane....you guys are in my prayers....peace out my friends!”
“Death Valley is the place to be right now, Joe. My bike ride went right through the best flower areas and it's the most crowded I've ever seen it out there.
Just took me a while to get my "hiking legs" back. It was a strenuous weekend to say the least!
Death Valley flower and bike photos:
Towne Peak and SA-16 Albatross photos:
“Beautiful pictures SN....Do you know what year that plane crash happened? How interesting and maybe a bit erie seeing that. And the journal entries with that group having to get rescued! Looks like you had a great day.
Calhiker the flower pictures are so beautiful...the desert five spot is really something!
Thank you both for sharing these pictures”
“Fascinating photos of the Albatross. And amazing that it held together as well as it did at impact against the side of that mountain. Six crew members bail, the aircraft smashes against the mountain and much of it's still relatively intact. Front end is shredded, but it obviously didn't explode.
Hey- It's good do see photos of you and your hike. Hope all has been well with you.
“Bishophiker....thanks for taking those shots....man those are so awesome! I sat at my this morning sipping my java and enjoying the slide show....btw...I downloaded a few to add to my collection...
It's hard to believe there's so much water there....an actual shore line....nice!
Tourons....yeah....I suppose with all the pretty flowers the yuppies will come out and ruin the landscape in their Lexus wannabe SUVs and nicely ironed Dockers....he he...want a bunch of losers....aahhh...don't get me started....
Justin....nice bike dude! You just might inspire me to get back on the road....i'm down to one bike...a custom Schwinn I had built way back...now i'm sorry I sold my carbon fiber Giant bike...not sure my butt is ready...
Peace out guys...”
“Joe, he started off a little wobbly, but came back. I thought the biking would slow him down, but he got that second wind after summitting. I would have done the flower tour that day if I rode 200 miles the day before! Crazy boy!
Calhiker, I like the biking photos too. Thanks for letting me borrow one. Hope to see flowers when we go back.
MiT, The crash happened Jan 24, 1952. Yeah, I was the same age as one of the boys that went for help. Cool reading stuff like that in registers! I didn't get photos of the register entries by the plane site, but there weren't many. It was pretty cool seeing the Albatross at the first ridge, then getting closer as the day went on. This trip has to be close to the top of the list as far as dayhikes in DV goes.
Tek, you flew planes in the service, didn't you? I think you would like this hike. I checked your website recently and saw the twins pictures. They're growing fast!
last edited: 3/11/05 2:43:58 PM”
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