Ascent of San Benito Mountain on 2013-09-29

Climber: Eric Noel

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, September 29, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Summit:4x4 Vehicle
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:San Benito Mountain
    Elevation:5241 ft / 1597 m

Ascent Trip Report

There is more than one way to bag a peak but the following is what I did from Pleasant Hill. Not all junctions recorded, stick with main road unless otherwise stated:

680 South to 580 East to I-5 South to Exit 379
0.0 Turn right at end of exit ramp onto J1/Little Panoche Road
20.0 L on Panoche Road at T
23.0 Go Straight
26.0 BLM Signboard on L
40.2 Branch Fence Ranch
43.2 End Pavement more or less
Pass thru New Idria Trash Heap/Historical Site with 1 resident
44.2 Left Fork. Right might, or might not, work too
44.5 Mine Door on Right
44.6 Road crux in my opinion.
44.9 Squeeze between rockfall currently
45.2 Ignore Gravel Pit on R
45.5 Switchback to Right
45.6 Switchback to Left
45.7 Right
45.8 Straight, ignoring side roads
46.2 Straight, ignoring side roads
46.3 Straight
46.7 Right and flat
46.8 Straight
46.8 Open Gate, No signs
49.6 Continue Straight towards signed Wright Mtn on R11
50.7 Right on signed R13/R10 towards signed San Benito Mtn
51.4 Right fork on signed Not A Through Street R012
51.7 Summit

From the end of pavement and especially from 44.6 on you need high clearance. I think a high clearance 2WD would work in dry conditions but having 4WD High would give some comfort on steep or rutted sections. The road is never bad enough for 4WD Lo or anything hardcore, at least on a dry day as it currently stands. Lots of rutting and slow driving. I think if you can make it past the section at 44.6 you can handle anything else as it really gets no worse than that. This took me like 9 hours RT from the East Bay and even with less traffic and some navigation mistakes that I won't get into here it would take probably 7.5 for me.

Right at the highway there was a sign saying the CCMA, the area the peak is in, is closed. This did not prove to the case in any way. I did see the one gate mentioned above as well as a one road closed sign although the road was never closed. I did not see any signs preventing access except for some very faded and ambiguous Keep Out signs at New Idria that I genuinely think apply only to the properties adjacent to the road. I didn't actually see anything posted about the asbestos closure.

The summit boulder is obvious and not bad. I found it to require an easy class 3 move but there may be a class 2 option. No problem.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:21 ft / 6 m
    Distance:0 mi / 0 km
    Route:Drive to Scramble
    Trailhead:Summit  5220 ft / 1591 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2.5
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear

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