Translated from Spanish, Amargosa Valley means sour valley -- an appropriate description, according to the four Nevada Appeal adventurers who spent more than three hours there Tuesday, broke down once again in the sweltering heat.
"I'm pretty bitter right now, to be honest," said photographer Rick Gunn. "We're completely immobile."
Temperatures hitting 116 degrees in the Southern Nevada community caused the group's rented RV to overheat, stranding them within eyesight of their ninth challenge: the Amargosa Big Dune.
Despite unforeseen obstacles, they are determined to finish the 10 challenges on time, with or without the RV.
"Failure is not an option here," Gunn asserted. "Nothing will stop us short of death -- and that's a real possibility in this heat."
Before the RV troubles, the four climbed the Red Rock Canyon, their eighth challenge.
They chose a comparatively easy climb, a 5.8 on the scale of difficulty, but for the two with feet and knee injuries, there was nothing easy about it.
"Jeremy's toes look like squashed grapes. They swelled up, then we popped them," Gunn reported. "We both look like small rodents chewed on the back of our heals for several hours."
Gunn's feet were too tender to squeeze into the rock-climbing shoes, so he completed the challenge barefoot.
However, the misery was not so great as to destroy the pleasure.
"It was beautiful," Gunn said. "We climbed in the morning light. It's a very soulful place."
Photographer K.M. Cannon, who worked at the Nevada Appeal and now works for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, had only one regret.
"I wanted to show them more. I wanted to stay longer," he said. "There's about 1,000 climbs there. It was my hometown and I wanted to show it off."
But time constraints urged them onward until engine problems stalled their progress. The RV was on the road again around 5:30 p.m. and the four decided to wait for the coolness of the evening to start climbing the dune to sandboard back down.
The 10th and final challenge is to climb Boundary Peak today.
"After that, we're going to drink until we pass out," Gunn said. The three Northern Nevada residents plan to return to Carson City on Thursday.
Gunn, Cannon, sportswriter Jeremy Evans and copy editor Karl Horeis started Aug. 5 on a self-imposed quest to complete the 10 challenges outlined by the Nevada Commission on Tourism in 10 days.
The tourism commission laid out the challenges as part of the "Nevada: Bring it On" campaign highlighting Nevada's outdoor adventure spots.
Quote of the day: "We have 11 challenges in 10 days. The 11th challenge is the motor home." -- Don Quilici.