White Mountain Peak

  • White Mountain Peak
  • 4344 m
  • Primary factor 2193 m
  • 3rd in California
  • Location: Inyo National Forest, NE of Bishop
  • Location: North: 37:38.040, West: 118:15.345, (GPS at the summit)
  • Climbed October 15. 2005.
  • Difficulty: YDS class 1.


How to get there: Locate Bishop in Owens vally, east of Sierra Nevada in California. Hwy. 395 runs north-south, then find the small town of Big Pine about 24 kilometer south of Bishop. I drove to Bishop from the San Francisco Bay area via Hwy. 120 across Yosemite National Park and Tioga Pass (closed in winter).
From Big Pine, take Hwy. SR-168 east, after about 21 kilometer you reach Westgard Pass where White Montain Road heads north (left). There is a sign, since this road also serves as access to the famous Bristlecone Pines, the oldest living thing on earth. The first 15 kilometer of this road is paved, then the main road continues as dirt while the paved road forks right and serves Schulnman Grove with a visitor center and more information about the bristlecones.
Continue along the good dirt road for another 27 kilometer to the Barcroft Gate. The road is closed here with parking on the left side just before the gate. As of 2005 this road was perfectly fine for ordinary cars. This location has elevation 3563 meter and coordinates N37:33.456, W118:14.144.

Route description: From the trailhead, pass the gate and continue up the road. This road climbs gently in the beginning, then becomes more level higher up. Follow the road to the research station. The route/road runs on the lower side of all the facilities, then turns more uphill (left) beyond the buildings. Next the road climbs the hill and reaches a flat saddle area where a small old building that looks like a telescope house is located on your right side.
From here, the trail (which is still an old jeep road) descends to a pretty flat area and the White Mountain Peak comes into view. The route continues, first flat, then slightly uphill to reach a knoll from which one can descend to the highest connecting saddle with White Mountain Peak. After this descent, there is a final uphill slope to the peak. The road/route runs in wide zig-zags and it is really much better to head straight uphill a bit right of the ridge to the summit. There is a small stone hut (locked) at the summit, appearently the research station conducts additional experiments at the very summit.
Comments: After a long, but nice drive from San Jose in the Bay Area, I arrived at the trailhead at 2200 and slept in the car until early the next morning. I left the car at 0520, the near full moon had set and the sky was filled to capacity of brilliant stars. I arrived at the summit at 0850 and spent 30 minutes there. Leaving at 0920, I reached the trailhead at 1200 noon.
The route is easy, but a substantial hike at pretty flat, but high elevation. One should be careful and avoid being caught by bad weather high up on this route. See more details in my trip report. My N5 trip continued to Mount Jefferson the next day.