Ascent of Condon Peak on 2016-02-24

Climber: Andrew Kirmse

Others in Party:David Sanger
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Condon Peak
    Elevation:4970 ft / 1514 m

Ascent Trip Report

David and I drove down to the San Benito Mountain area to climb Condon Peak, which is on the CC list. The trailhead is on BLM land in the Clear Creek Management area, which requires a $5 per vehicle permit to enter. I bought the permit online, which requires an additional $6 “processing fee” to As it turns out, you can just buy the permit at the trailhead for the $5 face value. Condon Peak is outside of the high-concern asbestos area, so we didn’t need the additional per-person permits that you need to enter that area.

We took Coalinga Road past the main Clear Creek entrance turnoff, to the Condon Peak campground. Finding the gate open, we drove up the dirt road another half mile to where a steep trail went off to the left, though the road continued level to the right. We started here and immediately ascended a steep path straight up the hill on the right side of a barbed wire fence marking the boundary between San Benito County and Fresno County, which we would be following most of the day.

The trail ascended directly and steeply over slippery, sandy ground. By the time we reached point 4442 on the topo map, the trail had pretty much given out, and we crossed the fence many times (usually by going over it), searching for areas less choked with yucca and other brush. We made our way up to point 4900, climbing over several rocky pinnacles. The trail would be much more enjoyable if the fence were removed. It doesn’t appear to serve any purpose with the current land ownership.

Descending the east side of point 4900, the trail reappeared, and turned into a dirt road marked “R18”. From here, we walked over 2 miles along the dull road through low, uniform brush, gaining another 500 feet through occasional rolling hills. At least we had good views to either side from the ridge. At the road’s high point, we struck out to the right and quickly reached the summit, where we couldn’t find the “Dome” benchmark indicated on the topo map. I left a summit register under a rock cairn.

At the top are excellent views of San Benito and Santa Rita, including the huge Union Carbide open-pit asbestos mine, now a Superfund site. The Sierras were exceptionally clear, and we could pick out Ritter and North Palisade. We descended the way we came.

We saw signs that the R18 road had been recently driven by trucks or ATVs, leading us to wonder whether it might be possible to drive much closer to the summit. At one point on the R18 road we passed an intersection with another road labeled R17. A map down at the campground makes it look like we might have been able to get closer by driving east past where we parked, and eventually turning north up the mountain. The sign indicates that this road is cleared for ATVs and highway-legal vehicles.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3210 ft / 977 m
    Extra Gain:720 ft / 219 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Trailhead:3200 ft / 975 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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