Ascent of Big Pine Mountain on 2018-04-22

Climber: Connor McEntee

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, April 22, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Big Pine Mountain
    Elevation:6800 ft / 2072 m

Ascent Trip Report

I feel like I got lucky on this one. Last year when I was entertaining bagging Big Pine one weekend, I called the forest service and they told me that they don't open the winter gate until May 1. So, I was expecting an extra heartbreaking 8 miles round trip in the heat. But, I found not only the gate open, but the road has been repaired. It was very easy to get all the way to the summer gate such that even a low clearance vehicle could do it (saw a minivan out there).

Anyway, it was hot when I started, and I baked in the afternoon sun up the long ascent to the top of the potrero. I brought a bike, but I'm a terrible mountain biker. The bike is also a piece of garbage, it hasn't been tuned in more than a decade and doesn't shift gears etc. So, I had to push it most of the way up. But, once on top it is totally worth it. The road has much more gentle ups and downs as it winds around the ridge to Chokecherry Spring. I made it there in 2.5h, which was faster than I was expecting, so I still had some daylight. I decided to grab some water from the spring, and head up to Mauldice Saddle to camp. As other have noted, the horse trough is pretty gross with lots of algae growing in it, but you can get water from the intake to the trough, which is clean.

I decided to ditch my bike at Chokecherry, because it seemed like the road was getting rough. You can actually bike all the way to just north of Big Pine. The only really rough sections are in the stretch dropping down from Mauldice Saddle.

The next morning I got up early and took a daypack to the summit. I went cross country early, because I had read some trip reports that the old road is overgrown. There is actually a really good game trail going right to the summit area that weaves through all of the thorny brush. The summit is ok, but not breathtaking. It's so flat you have to walk around to get views in all directions. The register is on a rock that is likely the highpoint. There also appears to be a competing rock a little to the east separated by some dense brush. It was unclear to me which was higher.

Since I had so much time, I decided to run over to West Big Pine, which allegedly has much better views. I though I might be able to go cross country down the west side to the road below via game trail. Big mistake, and fortunately I bailed on it pretty quickly. There is very dense brush and possibly poison oak hidden in there. The game trail went right into the thick of it. The only possible shortcut might be to take the southwest ridge, but I doubt it's worth it. The trail over to West Big Pine is getting a bit overgrown. At one time it was an access road to the lookout, but in a few sections manzanita is completely crowding it out. However, it is absolutely worth the journey! The south side is a big cliff and the views to the south are expansive and stunning.

The trip back was pretty easy, just a few climbs to huff it up. The bike descent down the potrero was a blast!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:8654 ft / 2637 m
    Total Elevation Loss:8654 ft / 2636 m
    Round-Trip Distance:37.7 mi / 60.7 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Gear Used:
Bicycle, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5690 ft / 1734 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3532 ft / 1076 m; Extra: 2158 ft / 657m
    Loss on way in:2158 ft / 657 m
    Distance:16 mi / 25.8 km
    Route:Big Pine Road
    Start Trailhead:Summer Gate  3268 ft / 996 m
    Time:4 Hours 47 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:6496 ft / 1979 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 3532 ft / 1076 m; Extra: 2964 ft / 903m
    Gain on way out:2964 ft / 903 m
    Distance:21.7 mi / 34.9 km
    Route:Big Pine Road
    End Trailhead:Summer Gate  3268 ft / 996 m
    Time:4 Hours 29 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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