Fri, Jun 23, 2017
We celebrated Laura's birthday a day late at Las Palmas in Bishop the night before. Our original plan was to drive up to White Mtn Rd and spend a few days tagging some minor peaks I'd had my eye on. Tom wanted to drive his Jeep up Silver Canyon Rd, one of the classic East Side 4WD routes. To this end, he suggested we stay in Bishop for the night and drive up early in the morning as a daytrip. It was the first time I had crashed at the Moose Lodge, Laura's hospitable abode. With temperatures hovering over 100F during the day, she left the AC running 24hrs which seemed a godsend when one comes in from outside. How the good folks of Bishop manage to survive in such summertime conditions must in large part be attributable to the invention of air-conditioning. That people lived here well before this modern convenience only reinforces my belief that most everyone alive today is a wimp compared to those earlier generations.
We got up around 5a when it was already quite light out, about 35min before sunrise. With three of us heading up, it would take some time to make coffee, collect all our gear in the Jeep and ensure that the beer was cooled to an appropriate temperature and securely stored away. One can't be too lax in preparations for such an expedition. Heading north out of town, We drove past Law's RR Museum east into Silver Canyon. The first five miles are relatively flat as the dirt road makes it way to the head of the canyon, with a number of creek crossings that provide only minor difficulties. The real climbing then begins in earnest, rising 3,200ft in three miles. A junction just below 9,000ft gives one the option of the steeper but shorter left fork or the regular route to the right with a few more switchbacks. We took the steeper route on the way up and the other option on the way down. It was nearly 7:30a when we topped out at 10,400ft on the crest of the White Mtns.
Starting off around 8:45a, we plied the road for the first hour or so as we made our way around the east and north sides of Piute Mtn. We went west over the crest on the north shoulder of Piute, then began the 1,500-foot drop down the west side. The footing was decent with vegetation holding the talus together better than one finds in the Sierra. I was well ahead of the others as we reached the broad saddle and then made the final 280-foot climb up to the summit. It was 11a before the three of us had reconvened at the top. With cell service overlooking Bishop and the Owens Valley to the west, we all took to our phones while enjoying a rest at the breezy summit. They were logging the summit on the peakbagger app while I was texting Laura that I had never heard these two whining so much before. Laura suggested I relay a message to the princesses to just suck it up. I attempted to allay some discomfort with a few ounces of summit treat which were quickly dispensed with. Looking south, we spied a tree-covered summit a few hundred feet lower about 2.5mi across Piute Canyon that we guessed was the second summit I had planned for the afternoon, Peak 10,700ft. More whining ensued, and I could hardly blame them - it, too, looked discouraging. Finding no register on our summit, we left one before packing up and heading back towards the crest.
The hike back up to the crest wasn't as bad as it looked though it had 400-foot section that was particularly steep and winded us. After a brief rest above this, we continued on and the general spirits improved as the gradient eased. Tom and I decided to tag Piute (more stat padding) since "it was so close" while Karl took a wide berth to pass it to the north. We were surprised to find that the only other visitor to sign the register this year was Doug Mantle the previous month. It was the second time this year I'd seen his name on a summit that wasn't on one of the Sierra Club lists. After leaving Piute we made a beeline for Limestone Peak, bypassing Sheep Mtn which we'd both already climbed. Tom hadn't been to Limestone yet, which was the main reason we'd gone up and over Piute on the return. We signed the register we found at the highest outcrop before dropping down the west side to the Jeep just below us. Walking along the road again from the north, Karl managed to return just ahead of Tom and I around 1:45p.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Piute Mountain
This page last updated: Wed Jun 28 15:18:52 2017
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