Ascent of White Mountain Peak on 2017-07-30

Climber: Ray Thompson

Others in Party:Brian Thompson
Date:Sunday, July 30, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:White Mountain Peak
    Elevation:14246 ft / 4342 m

Ascent Trip Report

After summiting White Mtn Peak last summer I came to find out there are two days a year when the infamous "Locked Gate" is unlocked and hikers can then start from the Barcroft Research Station. Very cool, cuts four miles off the hike. Asked our younger son, Brian, if he'd join me for the adventure and he agreed. We drove up the 395 on a Saturday morning with a few stops along the way at Fossil Falls and Manzanar, eventually checking into the Motel Six in Bishop. Dinner that night was at the Mountain Rambler Brewery. Up early the next morning and, after the obligatory stop at Hing's Donuts to collect some ham & cheese croissants for breakfast, we headed back south on the 395 to the 168 and up the Westgard Pass. Shortly after turning off onto White Mtn Road we stopped to eat our croissants. And this is where the day started getting fun. After eating breakfast we get back in the car and . . . nothing . . . dead battery. In the middle of nowhere. With no cell service. Anyway after twenty minutes or so another vehicle comes along and we get a jump. On the way back down the 168 we return into cell service and make a call to the AAA. Only to learn they don't do Bishop CA on Sundays. Sorry. Brian does a Google search and we find there is a Pep Boys in Bishop that opens at 9:00AM. We pull in there at 8:50 and let the motor run until the store opens. The staff there were super helpful and lent us their tools to change out the battery they sold us. That little matter out of the way we headed back up to the mountain.

On the way we stopped to take in the view at a turnout overlooking the Owens Valley, just a mile or two shy of the Bristlecone Forest Visitors Center, when we noticed a tour bus making its way up the mountain road. Originally we had planned to hike the peak and then stop at the Visitors Center on our way back to Bishop, but looking at the hour and doing the math we figured we should stop in at the Center now if we wanted to do that, otherwise it would be closed we were heading back. We pull into the Center's parking lot where we see the aforementioned bus has also stopped to offload it's passengers. In the parking lot we meet the famous Ranger Dave "Bristlecone" Hardin who proceeds to give Brian and I a guided tour of the center. While Range Dave is taking us around we bump into Jody, a high school classmate of Brian's. Turns out she had been on the bus, which was carrying a Sierra Club group from SoCal. That little reunion done, we said good bye to Ranger Dave and jumped in the car again heading out for Barcroft. Brian noted that where but for the dead battery detour we would not have run into Jody.

We arrived at Barcroft around Noon and the parking lot there, such as it is, was packed. We get a little help from one of the staff there who directs us into a just emptied spot. And now finally, four plus hours late, we start up the trail. It was very pretty day with lots of white puffy clouds floating overhead. And then it starts to rain, albeit not too hard but hard enough so we can't totally ignore it. Brian asks me; "So what's our plan for rain ?" Response: "We get wet, ?" As soon as I said that, it stopped raining and started hailing. Well, the wet problem was solved anyway. Fortunately it was very small diameter hail, and within a few minutes stopped entirely. The balance of hike up was under blue skies and we passed a lot of people on their way down. At the summit the views were as magnificent as expected but shortly after our arrival a cloud rolled overhead and it started snowing. Actually it was more like snow flurries which melted as soon as they touched you or hit the ground. As we were enjoying that odd event ( snow in July ) we were suddenly startled by a very loud crack of thunder. Hmm . . . I told Brian that was our signal to head out and back to the car, right now. We got back to Barcroft Station in quick order and none the worse for a couple of sprinkles encountered on the hike down. At Barcroft we found the once crowded parking lot now had only one other vehicle besides ours. On the drive down White Mountain Road we saw a wild horse grazing near the crossing with Silver Canyon Road. Quite possibly, probably, the legendary mustang, Campito. ( He has a Facebook page: ) The drive back down to Bishop also included a spectacular pink and orange sunset. For dinner we walked over to the Holy Smokes BBQ. On the trip home to Torrance we stopped off at the Alabama Hills and made the short hike to the Mobius Arch. We also stopped in at the Indian Wells Brewery.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
White Mountain Peak weather: sunshine, rain, hail, sunshine, snow, sunshine, rain, sunshine. (2017-07-30). Photo by Ray Thompson.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1776 ft / 541 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Route:White Mtn Road
    Trailhead:Barcroft Research Station   12470 ft / 3800 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
    Weather:Raining, Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Variable - sunshine to snow flurries
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes

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