Ascent to Berryessa Peak-38.6869, -122.2065 on 2019-06-15

Climber: Scott Burley

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, June 15, 2019
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Point Reached:Berryessa Peak - 38.6869, -122.2065
    Elevation:1878 ft / 572 m
    Remaining Elevation:1179 ft / 359 m (35% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

I knew it was a bit late in the season to attempt this peak. I had hoped that a relatively mild forecast (highs in the low 80s) and an early start would let me bag this one quickly, avoiding the worst of the afternoon heat.

Unfortunately, the trail is in terrible condition after last year's County Fire. Most trail signs, wooden steps, and the neat stile at the fence crossing are all gone. I counted four downed trees across the trail, and several washouts. Much of the trail is obscured by tall grass, waist-high or higher in many places. Route-finding in the sea of grass is an issue in a few places. One is often simply walking on flattened grass, which obscures the ground underneath. Is the next step going to land squarely on the bench cut, slide down the slope, or perhaps stumble over a hidden rock? The grass is also full of thistles, which covered my legs with hundreds of tiny puncture wounds through my pants.

On the bright side, what appears to have been a serious bushwhack below the cliffy area on the SE end of the first ridge is now just a few blackened branches that are easily pushed aside. Also, I was surprised to not see a single tick.

After hours of slow going, with the temperature rising and little or no shade to be found, heat exhaustion finally got me in perhaps the worst possible place, just past the bottom of the canyon between the two ridges. Not only is this a particularly shadeless area, but it left me with a 400', 1 mile climb on rough trail to get back out of the hole, while feeling dizzy, weak, and nauseous. It took me 2.5 hours. Oh, this was also when I discovered I was down to my last liter of water, and had to bust out the iodine tablets to purify some scummy creek water. On top of all this, the cold I thought I had beaten a couple days ago decided to take advantage of my weakened state, and I started coughing and snorting out gunk. Needless to say, hiking out was miserable and even slower than the hike in.

All that said, there are some really beautiful views along this trail. I plan to come back in cooler weather, hopefully after a trail crew has had a chance to do some major work.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
2014 vs. 2019, after the County Fire. Most of the nice trail work is gone, and tall grass has taken over (2019-06-15). Photo by Scott Burley.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2993 ft / 911 m
    Extra Gain:838 ft / 255 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9.7 mi / 15.6 km
    Trailhead:561 ft / 170 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 30 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Scott Burley
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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