Borax BM is a scenic peak in close vicinity to Furnace Creek which has excellent views of the Funeral Mountains, Panamint Mountains, and a hidden basin to the south containing a very colorful landscape. Difficulties encountered on the hike include working through significant route-finding challenges in order to get from the parking area to the summit ridge. Topographical maps of the hiking route can be found by clicking on the buttons above. GPS coordinates for the parking area to use our hiking route are 36.389341, -116.759401. GPS coordinates for the pass used during our hiking route are 36.376052, -116.775794. GPS coordinates for Borax BM are 36.372170, -116.778633.
Borax BM (right background peak on logo image above) is an interesting summit to attempt when staying at Furnace Creek. I say attempt because this little summit has given a lot of trouble to Death Valley hikers through the years. When looking at it on a map, it doesn't seem like reaching the summit should be all that difficult. But access to the summit ridgeline is blocked by a maze of drainages, hillsides, and areas of challenging (and sometimes brutal) terrain. Before setting out on the hike, I spent considerable time at home studying satellite imagery and past successful hikes which have been documented online. Eventually, I settled on a route that my sister Tiffany and I would use in our attempt to reach the summit. Our route would involve parking about 9/10 of a mile southeast of the exit spot of the one-way 20 Mule Team Road. For the first 7/10 of a mile, we would hike south in some of the main washes until the area of soft hills ended, and then begin trending southwest to cut over into a main wash leading up toward the background hills. Basically, we needed to get into the next main wash west of Corkscrew Canyon. The two washes are separated by about 1/3 of a mile. After hiking for 2 miles, the wash curves around toward the west and ends up at a lower pass and then a higher pass. Borax BM is clearly in sight just above you at this point, but it looks impossible to get to. You can't head straight up the mountain because there are sheer cliffs in between the higher pass and the summit. Thus, it is necessary to get further to the west where the hillside slopes are more gradual. You must use these gradual slopes to get onto the summit ridgeline. Unfortunately, even these slopes are challenging to reach. The main wash you get into on the other side of the higher pass begins heading to the northwest and taking you in the wrong direction. However, once you follow the main wash long enough, you can turn off into one of the many side canyons and find a way onto the hillside. Just don't turn off too early. Once on the hillside, you can climb up to the ridge and then it will be an easy walk to the summit. If that entire description sounds a bit confusing, that's exactly what taking the route will be like. I think my fellow Death Valley hiker Kauri summed it up well when she wrote: "Due to stories I have heard of hikers getting lost and having to be helicoptered out of these areas, I do not recommend this hike to anyone except an experienced Death Valley hiker and route-finder." The hike to the summit of Borax BM is about 3 miles each way with a cumulative elevation gain of 1,250 feet. But we did not stop our hike at Borax BM. One of the highlights of a visit to Borax BM is that the summit is directly opposite a hidden basin which contains a minor peak known to regular Death Valley hikers as the "blue mountain". The blue mountain is exactly what it sounds like -- a minor peak covered by blue (and green) colors which is quite beautiful to behold. Several hiking groups in the past have tried to continue on and find a way to the summit of the blue mountain, but all previous groups failed. So we decided that we would attempt it as well. We followed the main ridge past Borax BM for an additional 1 mile until the ridge terminated at rocky cliffs on all sides. Along the way, we checked out three different routes which would have dropped us into the hidden basin behind the blue mountain, but all the routes proved to be too treacherous to continue. Despite not reaching the blue mountain, we truly enjoyed the additional views along the ridgeline of the blue mountain, the hidden basin, and the cliffs above Corkscrew Canyon. And something fun and exciting happened along the way. To find out what, check out our follow-up report (which is a continuation of this hike) covering Corkscrew Canyon. Our hike took place on February 24, 2017.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT