Silver Peak BM 2x P300
Peak 10,940ft
Piute Mountain 2x P900 DS / DPG
Limestone Peak 2x
Peak 10,700ft
Peak 10,940ft 2x P750

Fri, Jun 23, 2017

With: Tom Becht
Karl Fieberling

Silver Peak BM
Piute Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2
Silver Peak BM previously climbed Sun, Jun 14, 2015
Piute Mountain previously climbed Sat, Aug 24, 2013
Limestone Peak previously climbed Sat, Aug 24, 2013
Peak 10,940ft previously climbed Sun, Jun 14, 2015


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.

Silver Peak BM

Immediately to the south is the telecom installations atop Silver Peak. Since Tom hadn't yet been to the top, I suggested we should drive up for some stat padding. Unlike my first visit when I had to walk a short distance, the Jeep made it a very easy drive-up. I found the benchmark I'd been unable to locate on my first visit and we all climbed the nearby wooden tower structure for better views and because we're all really just 10yr-olds boys trapped in much older bodies.

Peak 10,940ft/Piute/Limestone

After the minor diversion, we drove back to the White Mtn Rd and headed north, wondering just how far we'd be able to drive. The USFS's website had reported the road blocked by snow just beyond the Patriarch Grove turnoff and this proved fairly accurate. A large snowdrift less than a mile from the junction blocked the road. A snowcat parked nearby had made a flat path across the snow to allow personnel to get to the Barcroft Research Center further up the road, but we had serious doubts that the Jeep could manage the crossing without getting stuck. Even if we made it across, the softening snow might prove a trap upon our return some hours later. We were about 3mi short of where I had hoped to start, but this would have to do, adding some additional miles to the hike. Peak 10,940ft lies about a mile and a half west of the crest and much lower. Most of the hike would be above the elevation of our summit, a somewhat discouraging factor that Tom and Karl would use to question my choice of summits. That the prominence was minimal didn't help, nor that it was for some obscure list for which the peak might not even qualify. Sometimes even I have to wonder why they put up with me.

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.

Peak 10,700ft

We repositioned the Jeep about a mile and a half to the south just above Campito Meadow. This second unnamed peak was similarly west of the crest and would require a significant downclimb to reach it. On paper it looked better than the first since we didn't have the road walking to start nor as big a drop, but that was made up for with a number of ups and down with false summits as we made our way west. After making our way up to the crest, we dropped about 1,000ft before working our way along the ridgeline. There was some minor scrambling on limestone rock and steep sand as we made our way across the forested ridgeline near it's end. Surveyors had visited the summit decades earlier for a spot elevation measurement, leaving a surveying pole held up with baling wire. The summit had slightly better views of Bishop to the southwest and a more interesting view of Piute and Sheep rising high to the northeast behind us. Without additional bonuses nearby, we headed back more or less along the same route, getting us back not long after 5p.

Peak 10,940ft

Fortified with beverages from the cooler in the back of the Jeep, we stopped for one last stat padding on the drive back. This summit is the highpoint of the crest just west of Wyman Canyon. The road passes within 100yds of the top which can be most easily reached by approaching from the south and west sides. We chose the class 3 scramble directly up from the road on the east side which takes all of about two minutes to accomplish. With that finished, we continued back down Silver Canyon Rd to Bishop and the Moose Lodge where Laura had prepared a delicious salmon dinner for the three of us - not exactly the camping experience we had planned on, but no one was complaining this time...


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