Peak 8,180ft
Peak 7,860ft P300
Peak 8,580ft
Peak 8,660ft P300
Peak 8,900ft P300
Peak 8,860ft P500
Peak 8,700ft
Peak 9,100ft P300

Mon, Oct 19, 2020

With: Tom Becht

Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile

When Tom suggested we visit the White Mtns for a few days, we both hoped we might be able to avoid the smoke that was still smothering much of the High Sierra due to the Castle and Creek Fires still burning for almost two months now. We would have little luck in that regard. Fickle winds had shifted, pushing smoke into the Owens Valley and pouring over the White and Inyo Mtns. The air quality was unhealthful, views muted or non-existent throughout the day. All of the day's peaks were found in the southern half of the range between 7,800ft and 9,100ft. Cross-country travel in this part of the range, and indeed in most of the White Mtns, is pretty easy. The vegetation is mostly junipers and pinyons, very little in the way of brush, with much of the terrain bare dirt and rock.

Peak 8,180ft - Peak 7,860ft

These two summits are located off the south side of the high-clearance dirt road heading to Black Mtn off paved White Mtn Rd. Peak 8,180ft is a short, easy climb taking less than half an hour roundtrip. There are four equal-height contours vying for highpoint honors. We visited three of these, the southwest (and largest) one appearing to be highest. The hike to Peak 7,860ft is about a mile each way, with a drop to a shallow saddle before climbing to the summit featuring a rocky granite outcrop. It lies atop the north side of the canyon up which SR168 runs, with good views overlooking the Owens Valley if it weren't for the heavy smoke we had today. The views are better from Black Mtn to the west, and if you haven't climbed it, would be an easy addition with these two, simply driving to the west end of the road and climbing the short distance to the top.

Peak 8,580ft - Peak 8,660ft - Peak 8,900ft

These three summits are found about 3mi north of the first pair. I had grabbed Mihai's gpx track off PB and we made a variation of this three-peak outing. Mihai had parked off the shoulder of White Mtn Rd on the east side of Peak 8,900ft. We tried to drive the dirt road shown on the topo maps but got less than a quarter mile before it veered off in the wrong direction - better to simply park off the pavement and start from there. We made our way southwest to Peak 8,580ft first, contouring across the SE side of Peak 8,900ft, over a saddle and then more directly towards Peak 8,580ft, taking about 30min to reach the half-open summit. Nothing particularly special about this one. The better summit was to the west, another 80ft higher and more than 400ft of prominence. It took only 20min to cover the half mile distance to Peak 8,660ft. We left a register here before continuing on. Rather than return back over Peak 8,580ft and approach Peak 8,900ft from the south as Mihai had done, we chose to head directly to the third peak to the northeast. We had to drop about 200ft lower in the drainage, but the elevation gain was similar to the longer route because we didn't have to reclimb Peak 8,580ft. This longer leg took us most of an hour. A register left in 2011 had more than 20 pages of entries. Indeed, it is located just above the Grandview Campground (currently closed due to Covid restrictions) and only a short hike from there. We were amused to find Barbara Lilley was the last person to make an entry, back in July. At 91yrs of age, she's still getting up new summits. From the summit, we descended to the southeast the half mile back to our starting point, making for a 3.5mi loop in a little over two hours.

Peak 8,860ft - Peak 8,700ft - Peak 9,100ft

The first two summits of this group are found on the west side of Black Canyon. It may be easier to drive up Black Canyon from the south to access these, but that would have been a terribly inconvenient detour from White Mtn Rd. Instead, we started from a turnout halfway between Grandview CG and Sierra View. A motorcycle track starts from there, traversing the southwest side of Sierra View before dropping into Black Canyon around 7,900ft. Another spur road then leads up to a saddle at 8,300ft. From there we went cross-country, climbing to the ridgeline on the northwest side of Black Canyon that would lead us to Peak 8,860ft and then 8,700ft. The higher of these has 600ft of prominence. The furthest, Peak 8,700ft, was five miles from our starting point and took us more than 2.5hrs to reach. On the way back we traversed below Peak 8,860ft and another bump northeast of it, making for a more efficient return. We had considered dropping more directly down to Black Canyon, but that would have meant dropping an extra 600ft which we'd have to reclimb on the other side of the canyon. We decided using the spur roads and motorcycle track was probably easier. Once we got back to our start, we made the short excursion up to Peak 9,100ft just southwest of where we parked, taking half an hour for the roundtrip. There was another busy register (this summit is even closer to Granview CG). Barbara had visited this one as well back in July, the day before climbing Peak 8,900ft. It was nearly 5:20p by the time we finished up, the sun going down in an orange/red smoke haze much as it had risen in the morning. We ended up camping in the same location we'd used the previous night, closer to SR168. It got quite chilly after the sun went down and with campfires still prohibited throughout the state, we were driven to bed much earlier than we hoped...

Continued...


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