Ascent of Pico Blanco on 2015-11-21

Climber: Andrew Kirmse

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, November 21, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Pico Blanco
    Elevation:3709 ft / 1130 m

Ascent Trip Report

From Bottchers Gap, I quickly descended 3.5 miles and 1000 vertical feet along the dirt road down to the Boy Scout camp, which was nearly unoccupied during the offseason. I forded the Little Sur River (only a few inches deep this time of year), then took a sharp right and followed the hiking trail signs past the main lodge and then up the hill.

Shortly I came to a wooden sign titled "Little Sur Trail" and turned right. The narrow trail went through some blowdown, overgrowth, and poison oak on its steep climb up to a point marked 2194 on the topo map. From here, I took a sharp right into the brush along the faintest of use trails. Soon even this petered out, and about 1400 feet of trailless gain remained up to the peak.

I stayed to the right (north) of the peak, attempting to make the north ridge. The ridge appeared thoroughly overgrown and so I stayed a little below it as I moved south. The slope was steep and covered with various grassy plants and chunks of limestone, making each step difficult and exhausting. I was stabbed by yucca leaves and fell onto the sharp limestone several times due to the poor footing. Progress for the last half mile was agonizingly slow. Finally, I reached the sawtooth rocky limestone summit area and scrambled the last few hundred feet to the top. I had brought a summit register, which turned out to be unnecessary, as the heavy steel pipe that's there will likely survive the Apocalypse. Given the long, tough ascent, I was surprised to see several dozen signatures from just this year. Views of the ocean and the Ventana Wilderness were excellent.

On the way down I traversed the limestone ridge again, then went a little lower (farther east) than on my way up as I worked my way north, turning right (east) at about 3000 feet, retracing my steps back down to point 2194 and back to the Boy Scout camp. From there, a long walk back along the road, and a final 1000 feet of gain back to Bottchers Gap as the sun went down. The round trip was just over 14 miles and just under 7 hours.

Update: It's possible to pay $10 to park at the Boy Scout camp, saving 6 boring miles of walking along the road. Get the parking reservation form here (look for "Parking at Camp to Access to the back country").
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4309 ft / 1312 m
    Extra Gain:1400 ft / 426 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14.2 mi / 22.9 km
    Trailhead:Bottchers Gap  2200 ft / 670 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 

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