Ascent of Black Hawk Mountain on 2018-11-03

Climber: Rafee Memon

Others in Party:Ayelet Bitton
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, November 3, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Black Hawk Mountain
    Elevation:10348 ft / 3154 m

Ascent Trip Report

It was now November and the hiking season, frighteningly, seemed to have no end in sight, with several more weeks of clear weather predicted. Looking to capitalize, I planned a long weekend to climb Black Hawk Mountain with Ayelet on Saturday and Tehipite Dome with Daria on Monday. The west-side drive from Sonora Pass to Wishon Reservoir would be annoying, but I was just thankful to be hiking in November. Admittedly, I had low expectations for Black Hawk, but it turned out to be one of my favorite SPS peaks so far.

I left my apartment in the Bay around 2am on Saturday morning and made the easy drive across the Central Valley to Kennedy Meadows Campground, where I arrived at the end of the road shortly before 6am. Ayelet spent the night on the road in her truck and arrived a few minutes later. It was a bit chilly at the start, but we quickly warmed up once we got moving up the trail. We watch the sunrise on the canyon above the reservoir, and we were surprised to find that we were surrounded by beautiful granite in nearly all directions. We intended to climb the North Ridge route, but after we realized that we stayed on the trail about a mile too long, we decided to try the North Slope instead. We started cross-country through the brush, which required some effort to get through at the low elevations, but it lightened up pretty quickly as we ascended higher and reached the bottom of a large granite bowl. Somewhere in the trees, Ayelet pointed out a bear and a cub -- my first bears that I'd ever encountered in the Sierra, on my 73rd SPS peak. Unfortunately they were running away from us and I wasn't able to take a photo.

From the granite bowl, we appeared to have numerous options to gain the ridge that would lead up to the peak. It was questionable whether the more direct routes would go (at least keeping it to third class), so we went up a series of grassy ledges in the direction of Black Hawk Lake. We continued behind the ridge to a system of ramps between a cliff and a gigantic sloping slab of granite, after which we arrived at the final low-angle scree slope to the summit. I arrived at the summit around 11:20am, and Ayelet arrived shortly thereafter. The views were great, with Tower Peak dominating the skyline to the east. We dropped a little below the summit to stay out of the wind and enjoy lunch.

We followed the same ramps down from the summit to the north slope, where we took a more westerly descent. We climbed down slab after slab of granite almost the entire way back to the trail, reminding me a bit of the route to Mount Silliman in SEKI. While the entire route was very enjoyable, the highlight was a small hidden lake near the bottom, nestled up against the granite cliffs with a waterfall flowing from above. We reached our cars at 4:30pm and drove to Sonora to get dinner. From there, I drove to Fresno where I would spend two nights before Tehipite Dome on Monday, arriving at 10:30pm very tired.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5088 ft / 1550 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5088 ft / 1550 m
    Round-Trip Distance:20.6 mi / 33.2 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4528 ft / 1380 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3968 ft / 1210 m; Extra: 560 ft / 170m
    Loss on way in:560 ft / 170 m
    Distance:10.5 mi / 16.9 km
    Route:North Slope
    Start Trailhead:Kennedy Meadows TH  6380 ft / 1944 m
    Time:5 Hours 5 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4528 ft / 1380 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 3968 ft / 1210 m; Extra: 560 ft / 170m
    Gain on way out:560 ft / 170 m
    Distance:10.1 mi / 16.3 km
    Route:North Slope variation
    End Trailhead:Kennedy Meadows TH  6380 ft / 1944 m
    Time:4 Hours 38 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rafee Memon
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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