Ascent of Owens Peak on 2018-12-19

Climber: Rafee Memon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Owens Peak
    Elevation:8453 ft / 2576 m

Ascent Trip Report

I got a leisurely start from my hotel in Bakersfield, getting an omelette before starting the enjoyable drive up to Walker Pass. I arrived at the pass around 9am, finding one other car parked in the dirt near the trailhead. I packed up my pack and started up the PCT on the north side of the road towards Owens Peak around 9:15am.

Early on, I passed another hiker, who was presumably the owner of the other car at the trailhead. The trail became intermittently snow covered as I wrapped into the shade on the north side of the hills. I became a little concerned as I didn't bring any snow gear, but since the ridge on the peak was entirely south facing, I didn't worry too much. Slightly surprisingly, I passed another hiker heading in the direction of the trailhead, but he would be the last person I would see all day. I considered climbing Morris Peak and Mount Jenkins on the return; I quickly ruled out Morris as the efficient route was covered in snow, and I would climb Jenkins if time permitted.

I trudged though many powdery snow drifts on my way to the saddle below Owens, which I reached around noon -- a little slower than I had hoped for. I had a snack before starting up the ridge to the peak. The use trail was ducked to oblivion, and I had little trouble following the intended route. Before reaching a mini-saddle near the summit, I went directly up the ridge instead of under, which provided me with a bit of third-class excitement. I briefly reached the trail for the "main" route before finally reaching the summit around 1:40pm. From there, it was clear that winter had arrived in the Sierra: to the north, the Kaweahs, Whitney, Langley, and Olancha were beautifully blanketed in a layer of snow.

I didn't stay at the summit for long as it was now certain that I would be hiking a portion of the return in the dark. I took many photos of the rich sunset colors over the Domelands to the west. I didn't need my headlamp as the nearly-full moon lit my way after the sun was gone. I returned to the deserted trailhead around 5:30pm. Overall, I think I only lost about a half an hour due to the snow. I packed up and continued to my next hotel in Riverside, where I would take a rest day before hiking the "Three Saints" of Southern California. On the drive, my upper back became extremely sore; I guess my body was already out of hiking shape after nearly a month off!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4296 ft / 1308 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4296 ft / 1308 m
    Round-Trip Distance:19.5 mi / 31.4 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2+
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3772 ft / 1149 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3248 ft / 990 m; Extra: 524 ft / 159m
    Loss on way in:524 ft / 159 m
    Distance:9.8 mi / 15.8 km
    Route:SW Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Walker Pass PCT TH  5205 ft / 1586 m
    Time:4 Hours 25 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3772 ft / 1149 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 3248 ft / 990 m; Extra: 524 ft / 159m
    Gain on way out:524 ft / 159 m
    Distance:9.7 mi / 15.6 km
    Route:SW Ridge
    End Trailhead:Walker Pass PCT TH  5205 ft / 1586 m
    Time:3 Hours 40 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rafee Memon
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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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