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Ascent of White Mountain Peak on 2013-07-02

Climber: Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach

Others in Party:Nate
Date:Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:White Mountain Peak
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:14246 ft / 4342 m

Ascent Trip Report

My first 14-er peak! Hooray!

I've always wanted to see the Bristlecone Pine Forrest, and towards the end of our road trip from Carmel-Yosemite-US 395, Nate and I decided to give this hike a go.

Drove up to the 12,000 foot TH on the 1st. Watched a massive thunderstorm blow through, managed to keep our tent from blowing away, and were asleep by 9:30 pm. Because we had been spending so much time above 6k-9k feet, the altitude didn't seem all that bad. Both Nate and I were surprised.

Set my alarm for 5 am, with the goal of setting out to hike between 0530 and 0600. After a quick breakfast and cup of coffee, we were on the trail by 0550.

Very easy trail to follow - as it was a clear road ALL the way up. Not a ton of elevation gain for the first 5 miles - maybe 1300 feet or so? Perhaps a bit more? Hiked 2 miles to the Barcroft research facility and was walking past their sheep pens at 0628. Good pace and feeling strong! Up to a saddle and then descended to a beautiful valley and the peak came into view. Hiked up to another saddle and descended to the final part of the trail before ascending to the peak. At this point, it was 7:50 and we took a short break - had a goal of reaching the summit before 9 am. Nate's GPS said that we were at approx 12,900 feet, which meant that we still had 1300' to climb to the summit. Hard to tell if his GPS was off OR if that's really how far it was. We set off - after just under an hour of hiking up (we met a heard of Bighorned Sheep!!) - we were on the summit by 8:48, just shy of 3 hours after we started out. Epic views and amazing to be above 14,000 feet! Felt the altitude kick in around the 13,700 mark (I'm guesstimating) - as long as the slope wasn't too steep, my legs were great - but the moment that the slope increased - I could feel the lack of Oxygen in my legs. Sorta weird - but interesting to note. Final push to the summit together - it was amazing!

Nate pulled out his radio and we spent about 90 minutes on the summit - taking in the views, talking (in French!) with some other hikers from Quebec, and enjoying the views. I was surprised to have cell phone reception - so I shot off a few texts and updated my FB page with a picture of the bench mark (holy cow!). I was wary of the weather and could see more thunderheads building over the Sierra Crest to the west, north of us along the Owens Valley, and also to the SE towards Death Valley.

We left the summit at approx 10:30 and hiked at a fast clip back to the car - It was surprising how fast the storm clouds grew, and there was a little bit of light precip that fell on us before we crested the saddle above the Barcroft Research Facility. We saw one other person at the facility, and figured that if the lightning became a problem, we could always seek shelter in their buildings. After hearing thunder about a mile from the car, we alternated jogging and hiking. I wondered briefly about the other parties behind us - but figured that if they weren't worried about the weather - well, there you go.

Back to the jeep by 12:45 - we could hear thunder rumbling to our north and were surpised at how quickly the thunderheads built over the peak. THEN again... with unseasonably hot temps in the area and the official start of monsoon season - it's pretty much to be expected. Plus - the trend with storms over the past few days (in Yosemite AND when we were in Mammoth) - were clear mornings with light puffy clouds, growing into massive thunderheads by the afternoon. Alarming, but not surprising.

Quickly changed out of the hiking gear and made the call to drive home to SoCal instead of having around the Sierras for another day. It had been an EPIC trip - but we were both tired from car camping and doing LOTS of hiking.... while we were jogging from the lightinign down the peak, Nate had commented about wanting a beer from Pizza Port - I think that sealed the deal. After changing, we stopped briefly at the Bristlecone Pine Sherwin's Grove Visitor's Center, bought the pin bench mark, and drove straight home to Pizza Poart. We were drinking beer by 8:45 pm - it was awesome!

Great end to an epic trip and got a chance to climb my first (although easy) 14,000 foot peak!
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2246 ft / 685 m
    Distance:15 mi / 24.1 km
    Route:Jeep Road
    Trailhead:Gate on White Mountain Road  12000 ft / 3657 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
    Weather:Thunderstorm
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 55 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 20 Minutes



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