Peak 12,362ft P500
Peak 10,982ft

Thu, Aug 6, 2020
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Peak 12,362ft

The day before the 2020 Sierra Challenge called for an easy day. I had spent the last three weeks climbing every day at elevation, so I didn't really need to worry about acclimatization or fitness level this year. I had driven up to Coyote Flat southeast of Bishop the previous evening so that I would have a comfortable place to sleep in the jeep. In the morning I continued the drive on the rough 4WD road network, one of the few such places in the Inyo National Forest where off-road vehicles can have the run of the land. I was primarily interested in Peak 12,362ft, a summit near The Hunchback with more than 600ft of prominence. I had somehow missed it ten years earlier when climbing the Hunchback during the Challenge, and it was one of those pieces of unfinished business that slowly crept up my todo list. While the peak can be climbed in a more sporting fashion from the west starting at South Lake, Coyote Flat from the east would offer the easiest approach. I managed to get within 2.5mi of the summit, stopping when the road got too rough for my liking. One can legally drive another mile closer, but you have to really want it.

From my starting point, I followed the continuing road to the west, at the edge of the mesa that drops south into the Baker Creek drainage. Peak 12,362ft rises straight ahead, on the edge of the Wilderness boundary. Where the road ends, I headed up the ridgeline, following this all the way to the summit, about an hour and a half all told from the start. It's all class 2 and the talus that covers the upper slopes can get pretty tedious - not one of the more memorable climbs. The summit offers some views of the Sierra Crest and the Palisades, but Sky Haven blocks much of it. More of the Sierra Crest can be seen to the west and northwest. Sugarloaf and Round Mtn can be seen to the east across Coyote Flat. A register was left here by Eva Pollan in 2014, the same person who'd left the register on Peak 9,070ft the previous day. It was surprisingly busy, with 9 pages of entries. My return followed much the same route, though I did drop off the ridge some to avoid some of the talus by aiming for the forested areas. It didn't seem any better in the end, however.

Peak 10,982ft

After returning to the jeep, I spent 45min driving back out through Coyote Flat and then on another spur road that allowed me to access this summit from the east. It took only 25min to reach its summit, partly on old road, partly cross-country. Little more than a lower heap of talus, there wasn't much to recommend this one either, other than the good view of Peak 12,362ft to the south. Once back at the jeep, it would take another two hours to drive myself back out to Bishop. After getting supplies, I hung around town to have dinner with my brother and Laura, then drove up to Mammoth Lakes where I spent the night camped at Agnew Meadows. TIme for the Sierra Challenge...


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