Ascent of Pico Blanco on 2018-12-22

Climber: Lisa Barboza

Others in Party:David Sanger -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Saturday, December 22, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pico Blanco
    Elevation:3709 ft / 1130 m

Ascent Trip Report

Please note that the Palo Colorado Road to Bottchers Gap is closed, at this writing, 3 miles from the coast.

Pico Blanco, EL 3709 is the sacred peak to the native Esselen peoples of the Big Sur coastal area. It is said to be the largest limestone deposit in California, and was most likely at one time a large coral reef located somewhere in the Pacific Ocean that docked as an exotic terrane against the North American coastline. There is a significant amount of limestone evident in the nearby peaks as well. This peak divides the north and south forks of the Little Sur River.

The peak is owned by the Granite Rock company of Watsonville and was planned to be decimated for concrete. Environmentalists defeated this plan, although Granite Rock still owns the mountain. This is a place that should be protected and preserved for the future.

The climb is nice hike from the Little Sur River Trailhead on the Old Coast Road, and we found the trailhead after 6.5 miles on the Old Coast Road. See the GPS for the starting location. I recorded the descent, not the ascent in my GPS so be aware.

The first mile or so of the hike go on what was a maintained trail deep through redwoods along south side of the South Fork of the Little Sur River. In one place, the trail has been obliterated by a small landslide and you will have to cross the river, travel on the north side for 100 yards, and then cross back to the south side. We had little difficulty with the fords. The trail winds through specimens of old growth Redwood (Sequoia sempivirens) along with lush stands of Bay Laurel, Tan Oak, and oxalis (this area has been logged, but impressive specimens remain). The Little Sur river flows smooth and clear and is a spawning ground for steelhead salmon.

After leaving the shelter of the redwoods, you will cross the creek for a third time and gain a the south slope on the north side of the river. The trail will eventually take you to a road, which will lead to an abandoned quarry about 1/2 mile up this road. Follow the road to the right, and this road will take you, after about 4 miles, to an automated weather station. Most of the elevation gain is on this road, which is not maintained. Being on the south side of the mountain, it will be hot and exposed in some seasons. But for a winter hike, perfect!

Find a disused use trail just beyond the weather station at the end of the road, and climb about 300 feet to the summit. The use trail ascends through white limestone, which composes the entire ground as you climb the peak. Be prepared for incredible views of the Bixby Bridge on the coast and miles of ocean.

I would hike this again- it was such a great hike! For a humorous account, read this:
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Pico Blanco from the Old Coast Road (2018-12-22). Photo by Lisa Barboza.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4000 ft / 1219 m
    Round-Trip Distance:15.8 mi / 25.4 km
    Trailhead:-291 ft / -88 m
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Foggy morning, clearing at noon
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Lisa Barboza
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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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