Silver Peak 2x OGUL / PYNSP
Silver Peak P750 WSC
Colorado Hill P500
Peak 8,262ft P300

Fri, Jun 28, 2019
Silver Peak
Silver Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile
Silver Peak previously climbed Sat, Sep 8, 2001

It was nearly July and I hadn't yet visited any real summits in the Sierra this year, owing to the abundance of snowfall the range had accumulated. I'd made plans more than a month earlier to climb Petit Griffon on Jun 30, so I headed to the Sierra a few days earlier to do some acclimatizing. Tioga Pass was not yet open, so I'd have to go over Sonora or Ebbetts Pass to get there. Silver Peak popped up on my radar recently when looking over the WSC list. This prompted me to use Ebbetts Pass, and by leaving San Jose around 6:30a, I was able to make it to the starting point before 10:30a.

Silver Peak

There are two summits to Silver Peak, both of which appear on peak lists that were originally concocted by the Sacramento area's Motherlode Chapter of the Sierra Club. The lower summit appears on the OGUL list as well as Pete Yamagata's Northern Sierra Peaks list (a superset of the OGUL list). I had visited this summit back in 2001 along with Highland Peak with several friends. At the time, I'd found a register on the southwest summit and called it good since this was the point on the topo map depicted as Silver Peak. But I could see that the northeast summit was higher and knew that I should have climbed it at the time, and it has mildly haunted me ever since. Then I found that the WSC list more specifically describes the higher summit, and with more than 800ft of prominence, I was going to have to get after it sooner or later. There are various ways to reach it, the one I chose via Noble Canyon from SR4 seems to be the shortest. The route is about 3mi each way with nearly 4,000ft of gain. There are two hairpin turns in SR4 as one descends from Ebbetts Pass on the east side, both of which can be used to start. My original plan was to use the lower one, cross Noble Creek and start up on the NW Ridge more directly to Silver Peak. I found the creek raging far too much to make a safe crossing anywhere in the vicinity. Not wanting to do anything foolish, I returned to the jeep, drove back up to the higher turn, and restarted from there using the well-defined trail.

This was probably the better starting point, too. Though it is slightly longer, One can use the Noble Creek Trail for more than a mile and a half before starting the cross-country. I detoured off the trail after the first half mile to see if I could cross the creek again, but finding no good option I returned and continued south on the trail. At the one mile mark it crosses the creek to the eastern bank at a wide spot where the water wasn't too deep. I took off my boots and socks, rolled up my pants and walked across, the water never reaching to my knees, but freezing cold. On the other side I continued on one of several trail threads for another half mile before starting up the slopes to the east. Here the gradient becomes steep, growing steeper yet as one gains the NW Ridge and climbs higher above treeline. Though not predicted to be so, the sky was overcast and threatening light rain at times. This had the effect of washing out the views and scenes, but perferably keeping it cooler for the climb. There were areas of snow the higher I went, but the class 2 ridgeline continued all the way to the lower summit without needing to step on any of it. I was quite a bit slower than I had thought I might be. Most of this I chalked up to this being the first time I was above 10,000ft since last summer. I had to pause often to catch my breath even though I wasn't moving all too fast. I reached the lower summit just after 1:30p, a three hour effort. The rocky ridge between the two took only 20min to traverse with a short section of snow to cross at the saddle between the two. The snow was slippery but not really dangerous as I cautiously made my way across. There was an ammo box with several registers at the summit (I found none at the lower summit, this time). The older registers were in a plastic bag and completely soaked, now just unreadable paper mush. I signed the newer register, noting that fellow Sierra Challengers Rob Houghton and AJ Kaufmann had been the last to sign in, back in October. Later in the day I sent them a text with a picture of the entry to which AJ shortly replied. The next day as I was driving south on US395 towards Mammoth, I passed AJ on the highway. Small world.

My route back went much the same way, though in places I traded rockier talus slopes for brushier ones. I found my way back to the trail, the creek crossing, more trail and eventually the highway at the turn I'd started from. About 5.5hrs for the roundtrip effort.

Colorado Hill

I descended SR4 to its junction with SR89, taking the latter up towards Monitor Pass. There were a few summits along this route I noticed might be done as easy bonus peaks and detoured to check them out. The area was the scene of mining activity back in the day, the largest of these found at the huge Leviathan Mine. Colorado Hill, found just north of SR89, had lots of prospects, a few small mines, and lots of roads dug into it, but not a whole lot of value taken from it. Most of the roads on the hill have fallen into disuse or were deliberately closed to vehicles. The dirt Morningstar Road climbs up from the highway to the east of Colorado Hill. I drove up this a short ways, finding several bad washouts and stopping at a nasty-looking one. From this point I was little more than half a mile from the summit so it didn't seem worth adding more punishment to the jeep. It took half an hour to make my way up the modestly brushy slopes, past the various prospects and what looks like a quarry found near the summit. The highpoint is found at the west end of the summit with some decent views. Not a terribly interesting summit, overall.

Peak 8,262ft

This unnamed summit was easier, and a little more interesting than Colorado Hill. It's set further back from the highway, so involved more forest road driving. I used the Leviathan Rd (partially paved) for a mile and a half to the Morningstar Rd (the other end of the road I had used earlier) which I then drove about the same distance to Peak 8,262ft. A rougher spur road goes higher up the northeast side of the peak, eventually blocked by downfall. It was a short six minute walk to the unassuming highpoint among a few stunted trees and shrubs. It was after 6p by the time I got done with this one and time to call it a day. I still had some driving to do to get over Monitor Pass and down to US395. I ended up camped for the night in Mill Canyon, a quiet, lonely spot in the foothills of the Eastern Sierra south of Walker. It would do quite nicely...


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For more information see these SummitPost pages: Silver Peak - Colorado Hill

This page last updated: Fri Jul 5 10:42:21 2019
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