Hollister Peak P1K ex-CC

Wed, Jul 1, 2009

With: Ryan Burd

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Hollister Peak is one of a string of volcanic peaks in San Luis Obispo County. Alternately named the Seven Morros, or Nine Sisters, or Seven Sisters, it is clear only that there is no agreement on the actual number. I counted ten named ones that could be included in the string from Morro Rock to Islay Hill, along with four or five unnamed ones that could also be argued to qualify. But I won't try to resolve the controversy here.

I have been attempting to climb all the named ones over the years. All but three are readily accessible to the public. Two lie on a military reservation and a third is private property that was turned into a nature preserve. I haven't had the gumption to go after the ones on the military base, but I thought I'd take a look at the third, Hollister Peak. It was a good night for a moonlight hike, so while vacationing in Pismo Beach with the family, I got Ryan to join me for a little clandestine adventure.

I chose to approach the peak from the south from Turri Rd. It is a narrow country road servicing ranches in the Los Osos Valley including several on the broad southern flanks of Hollister Peak. It was still 20 minutes to sunset when we started off, hopping a gate and moving quickly up a dirt road past a water tank until we crested a small rise and dropped down out of view from the road. This seemed to be a good choice for the approach. There were two ranch homes that we spotted on our walk north along the road. One was to the west and the other to the east, each about a mile distance. Our road was not well-hidden from view especially to the home on the west side, but it seemed far enough that detection seemed unlikely.

The hike did not last very long, taking us only an hour to reach as far as we could. We watched the sun set over Cerro Cabrillo to the west on our way up, a waxing moon already high overhead. We were greeted by a dire sign warning there is no access to Hollister Peak and all trespassers were to be cited by the Sheriff, no exceptions. Ignoring that, we followed a road up to where it turned to follow some power lines just south of the peak. This led higher to a point about 300ft below the summit, but the road continued down the other side. Along the way we had to climb under another fence marking the boundary of the nature preserve, and more dire warning signs. Since we were staying on the service road, I figured we weren't harming nature too much. At the very highest point we could reach on the road there was a side road leading up to yet another fence running roughly east-west across the landscape. I was hoping there might be a road or trail of some sort leading from here across the connecting ridgeline to Hollister's summit, but it was a solid-looking wall of chaparral. I didn't sign either of us up for nighttime bushwhacking of the worst kind, and besides the guilt of violating the nature preserve would have bothered me. The fence itself was rather formidable, too. It appeared there really was no access to Hollister Peak from this side, though we did manage to get within a third of a mile from the summit. I'll have to come back and investigate the north side another time.

Ryan was relieved to see me call a general retreat, something I rarely do. We had a very enjoyable stroll back to the car by moonlight. All told we were out less than two hours, an easy outing even for Ryan. :-)


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