Travelers from the northern NCR have been whispering about a small community of super mutants located high in the snow-capped mountains west of New Vegas.Fallout New Vegas loading screen
If you are able to make it to the area around Mt. Charleston and Charleston Peak, you will see a significant change in scenery in the real world, similarly to in the game. It overlooks the desert but does not feel or look like the desert at all. The same can be said for the in-game equivalent, which is the only place (to date) in the Fallout universe that has snow.
I talked a little bit about snow hazards when I was writing about Ruby Hill mine, but I forgot to say that the Nevada 511 website doesn’t work ideally in poor reception zones, the map never loads very well for me, so in a pinch you can follow @nevadadot, @nwsvegas, @caltrans8, @nhpsoutherncomm, and/or @gomtcharleston on twitter, which seems to work ok in poor reception, most of the time anyway. That is all I know how to do on twitter, due to my terrible oldness.
# 1 – Charleston cave
# 2 – Jacobstown
# 234 – Griffith Peak
# 270 – Jacobstown bungalow
# 272 – Mt. Charleston
# 273 – Jacobstown lodge
# 2 – Jacobstown – The locations listed are sort of confusing when comparing to the real world equivalents. The way I sort it out in my brain is by considering Jacobstown to the the town and Mt. Charleston to be the mountain or area. In the real world, both the mountain and town are called Mt. Charleston.
The town of Mt. Charleston is a vacation location and tourist destination, with lodges and cabins, campgrounds, and a ski resort. A small number of people live here, in houses scattered around the area.
I have been to the area a half a dozen times, and the last time I went was during the holidays last year (December 2019). The winter is the busiest time of year, so I was not staying there (thankfully) but wanted to snowboard at Lee Canyon. There was a massive snowstorm that closed mountain roads a day before I arrived, so I had to shuffle my itinerary around and came back the next week when it had all melted. I had the correct type of vehicle to make it, but no reason to risk it.
It closed pretty much all the New Vegas-related sites I had planned for those few days, even Red Rock Canyon and Mojave Outpost, so I headed northeast to the Valley of Fire area until everything was cleared. I have the luxury of being out here for large periods of time and can move my schedule around, but if you are making the rounds on a tighter itinerary, just make sure to take it into consideration if you are planning a winter trip.
# 273 – Jacobstown lodge – There are two locations in our world with the same curse of similar names – Mount Charleston Lodge & Cabins and The Resort on Mount Charleston (this location was renamed Retreat on Charleston Peak in late 2019 but referred to in this guide as the former name). I have stayed in both locations and enjoyed it. The best time to stay is in the warmer months, because it is less expensive and there are less people here for skiing.
The resort is located farther east than the in game equivalent but looks nearly identical, so I consider it to be the more true to form location. I have to start by comparing the real world sign, which is remarkably similar.
By zooming in on the sign in-game, it is clear that the real world sign was definitely the inspiration. I tried to highlight in purple the aspects of the sign that I could make out, to show even more of the likeness.
The building in and of itself is exceptionally similar as well, from the color, style and shape, all the way down to the pond in front, which in game has dried up but you can tell it used to be there. The inside is similarly open with the same style of lighting.
A massive discovery that was completely unintentional was the pinball machine! I can not describe how much joy it brought me. I walked up to it, in awe, afraid to even touch it, like are you real? Is this a mirage? I can say it was definitely one of the most exciting “finds” of the entire project. In the real world, it is in the lobby area. It is just for looks and is not functional. There is even a dresser next to it. So awesome.
No endearing super mutants though. One of my favorite moments in game was here, passing by and hearing a super mutant tell me that they hope it snows later. Or really everything Lily says. The fact that super mutants express such sentiments is such a stark reminder of how well done they are in this game.
In addition, I found a rock that looks like the hollowed out equivalent outside of Jacobstown. I am not a fan of defacing our beautiful desert in the real world, though. Remember to Leave No Trace.
# 270 – Jacobstown bungalow – As opposed to the lodge’s equivalent being The Resort on Mount Charleston, the bungalow or cabins more-so resemble the aforementioned real world location Mount Charleston Lodge & Cabins, located about 4 miles away to the west.
# 1 – Charleston cave – I found out from the Visitor Gateway that there are many caves in the area, and was given an “inventory” (interesting word) of the caves, which include Mary Jane Cave, Soda Straw Cave, Compton Cave, Soul Cave, and more. I chose to hike to Mary Jane Cave, the cave most northwest of Mt. Charleston, which would most closely mirror the game.
This was a slow and steady hike that was not too tiring. You can find the instructions I used to hike to this location here, from Dr. Boone. I was impressed with how wide the entrance of the cave is. I did not go inside to far, since I am pretty cowardice about such things, but I was able to admire it more from a distance.
I also found this bizarre sign, which is hard to read due to my piss poor photography skills, but reads something like “non-detonated explosives used for avalanche control may be found in the area, do not touch” – which had strong “The One” or I suppose “Megaton” vibes.
# 272 – Mt. Charleston – I have included the two peak locations with the aforementioned places, but unlike the hike to the cave, which was fairly leisurely, each of these peaks require an entire day on their own. The first hike was to the top of Mt. Charleston. The entire roundtrip took me 8 hours, 5 hours up and 3 hours down, and was very challenging. Click here to read Dr. Boone’s guide, which I used to navigate the climb. I am sure others could complete it faster, but keep in mind I have only 1 Strength and 3 Endurance.
In our world, Mt. Charleston is both a town and a mountain. Sometimes resources would call the mountain “Charleston Peak” instead, perhaps to alleviate the same issues I am having with separating the two. This peak is the 8th highest in Nevada and 11,918 feet / 585 m in altitude. This meant that the hike is not only physically demanding, but my not being used to high altitudes made it even more tiresome. I did the climb in September, and there was snow then too. Make sure to bring a lot of water (I use a camelbak style backback (mine is “Field & Stream” brand), a windbreaker jacket, waterproof boots, and food like dried fruit or clif bars.
It is about 16 miles total and the first 5 are very steep. It levels off after that and you can see some pretty meadows and the charred trees from a past forest fire. When the meadow ends and the trees begin, the environment changes and it becomes much more inhospitable. The wind picked up and was very strong. The pine trees started to look withered and dead, almost like Jacobstown’s fence.
I started breathing very hard at this point and realized I was at 11,000 feet in elevation. Shortly after I found some sort of wreckage, taking a few photos and learning later that it is the remains of a plane that crashed here in 1955. It was a very solemn moment.
Addendum: When reading about this plane crash, I found out that the pilot of the aircraft and one of the individuals who perished was named Captain George M. Pappas Jr., an Air Force pilot from Amarillo, Texas. I wonder if this Captain Pappas was an inspiration for the NCR’s Captain Marie Pappas. In any case, I hope all the individuals who lost their lives here rest in peace.
The last part of the climb to the summit was excruciatingly hard. I consider myself to be in fairly good physical shape but it did not feel like it with such wind and thin air. I wanted to give up several times. It is only about half of a mile to the summit from the plane crash, though. However, it is a very steep grade. The wind is relentless. And just when I thought I could not walk any more, I made it to the top! The view is incredible. You can see far reaching views of Nevada, California, Utah even – including Pahrump Valley, Nevada Test Site, and neighboring peaks. I rested for awhile and headed back down, proud of myself for finishing.
I wish in hindsight I would have worn a vault jumpsuit to the top, but they were having a much, much needed wash. Maybe next time.
# 234 – Griffith Peak – In game, Griffith Peak is an unmarked and untraverseable location. In our world, it is a mountain top about 2 miles southwest of Mt. Charleston. I learned that Griffith Peak is Nevada’s 43rd highest peak with an elevation of 11,064 feet / 3,372 m. I used Dr. Boone’s guide, per usual, to make this hike.
This hike was a little less difficult than the other but still incredibly challenging. It was also hotter when I hiked this one and this trail has less shade. It took me 6 hours, about 4 going up and 2 coming down for about 10 miles total. The last quarter mile or so was so hard that I sat down, defeated, within view of the summit. I dug deep and continued, staring at my feet, one foot in front of the other, over and over, until I finally reached the top.
Before I could celebrate my epic feat too much, I saw a dog bounding up the path after me with no problem. I guess this pup was wiser with his trait or spec choices. So much for my 9 Intelligence. The pup’s name was Tex by the way, and I learned he is a senior dog that loves to climb, which keeps him young. He gave me many kisses before we parted ways for the next adventure.