Mon, Nov 18, 2013
||Story||Photos / Slideshow||Maps: 1 2 3 4||GPXs: 1 2 3 4||Profiles: 1 2|
There was a beautiful pink and orange sunrise in the morning shortly before 6:30a when I first awoke, but I did not venture outside for another hour (it was 30F outside). This gave me a chance to warm the van and myself and eat breakfast before starting the day. From the parking area, there is a use trail zigzagging a short distance to the highpoint, less than five minutes' effort. There was both a benchmark and a register can, but sadly the can held only a marker, no notepad or paper. The summit has a very fine view, west to town, north to the lake and the higher Southern Sierra north of SR178, south into the heart of the Piute Mountains. The peak looks good from below as well, which makes it a bit of surprise that it isn't on the HPS list.
Butterbredt Canyon Rd is a dirt/sand BLM road that conveniently connects Kelso Valley Rd with the saddle between Walbrecht and Gold. A high-clearance vehicle can easily negotiate the road. My van might also have been capable, but I didn't notice the condition of the road until I was well along on the hike. I had played it safe by starting at the end of the pavement where the PCT crosses Kelso Valley Rd, a longer way to do the three, but still only about 4.5hrs. In the end I was glad to do it the longer way since it let me fill up the rest of the remaining daylight. I followed the PCT for the first four miles, until at a dry canyon on the west side of Pinyon Mtn. As part of the Jawbone Canyon OHV area, there are other roads and motorcycle single tracks that can be used throughout the area. One of these leads to the summit of Pinyon by circling around the west and north side before going over the summit.
Pinyon's summit has the smashed beer cans and other detritus that comes with motorized access. Pinyon's benchmark similarly showed the abuse heaped upon it by the same folks, as though defacing a benchmark can somehow pay back for a lifetime of injustice at the hands of The Man. These things are pretty tough, so you have to really go at it with a hammer or heavy wrench or something. It amuses me to imagine someone taking swings at it with unleashed fury, their buddy next to them asking, "Dudes, what's your problem?" The views stretch east into the Mojave desert and the drier portions of Sequoia National Forest in the other three directions. To the south, Gold Peak and Walbrecht are most prominent, and it was to these I next turned.
The obvious route is to follow the motorcycle track down the south ridge, but for some reason I questioned this and dropped to the southwest, eventually having to sidehill across sandy rocky slopes to get back on track to the saddle with Gold Peak. From the saddle, a road continues around the east side of the peak, bypassing the summit, but a decent use trail can be picked up from the saddle leading to the rocky, almost-class 3 summit blocks. A register found in a plastic jar from 2009 had four pages of signatures, most recently from a party in February that included Bob Rockwell.
I dropped west off the summit, cross-country down a short distance to a road, making use of an older one at a junction that is closed to vehicles. The BLM went to great efforts to enforce this closure, digging up large pits in the track to make things as difficult as possible for motorcyclists that might not be happy with the restoration (i.e. curtailment) effort. At the saddle with Walbrecht I climbed directly up the northeast side, reaching the summit after 4p. There are two summits found here, the south one is class 2-3 and has an HPS register. It was from this register that I first learned that the peak had been given an unofficial name. The peak saw many visitors in 2002-3, probably in anticipation of it being added to the list. But this never came to fruition and the visitors became fewer. The highpoint is actually a large summit block at the north summit which I investigated, but appears to be class 5 and not the sort I would solo. The holds are there, but the rock is somewhat crumbly and I would prefer the safety of a rope tossed over the block. Not having one handy, I left it unclimbed.
I descended the NW Ridge back down to the start at the end of the pavement several miles away. The PCT use to share much of this ridge with OHV enthusiasts as is shown on the 7.5' topo map, but the PCT has since been re-routed lower on the north side of the ridge, bypassing Walbrecht altogether. The sun had set behind the Piute Mountains to the west before I could return to the car but not before providing some color displays on the thin clouds overhead. It was 5:15p by the time I returned. As the stretch of road here is pretty lonely, I used it to take a shower in the middle of the pavement before dressing in fresh clothes and heading out. I drove to Ridgecrest and then on towards Trona, spending the night at a small overlook within the Trona Pinnacles area south of Trona. The next day's adventure to Straw Peak was a long one, and Trona Pinnacles would be my starting point.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Wyleys Knob
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