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White Moutain Peak via Silver Canyon Solo failed attempt on open gate day
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White Mountain Peak from Bishop via Silver Canyon Rd, 14,246'

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You are here: Home : Mountain Biking Last Updated on 09/05/2005    
Diff: Rating 10/10
Scenic: Rating 8/10
Tech: Rating 5/10
White Mountain Peak
         via Silver Canyon, Mountain Bike
Location: White Mountains, White-Inyo Range, Central California
Region: White Mountain Peak
Total Distance: 63 Mi
Elevation Gain: 14,000 Ft
Season: June-Sept
Type: Out & Back
Start Elev: 4,500 Ft
Peak Elev: 14,246 Ft
Total Time: 10.5 hr
Time In: 7.5 hr
Time Out: 3 hr

Peak List Peak List
Peak Name Elevation
White Mountain Peak 14,246 Ft

Ride added by
on 09/04/2005
Driving Directions
From southern California, take Hwy 395 north to Bishop, CA. By Vons, make a right onto Hwy 6 and go a few miles to Silver Canyon Rd on the right. Make a right and drive to the first stream crossing. Park and camp here at a small area off the right of the road.
Ride up Silver Canyon Rd to 4S01. Make a left and follow the signs to White Mountain Peak trailhead parking. Continue past the gate to Barcroft station and continue on the same road to the summit.
Left for Bishop at about 3:30pm on Saturday, pulled into the trailhead at about 7:30, just before dark. Got up at 3:30am on Sunday and started riding at 4:30am. Why it took me an hour to get going, I have no clue.

Had some plain pasta for breakfast but they were frozen together and tasted like crap. Had a peanut butter sandwich too. Being dark and no moon (new moon on 9/3/05) didn't help. It was probably in the 40's F when I started and I tried to avoid getting my feet wet for as long as possible. Started with leg warmers on and long sleeves, but that came off pretty quick.

I walked around the first crossing and was still dry. 2nd crossing feet got wet but just a little. 3rd crossing is where I took off the leg warmers and shirt and got feet soaked, walked across. The 2nd and third crossings from the bottom are the deepest/biggest, they get smaller from there up. The last 3 or 4 of the 8 crossings are hardly more than little puddles to wet the tires. Past the 7th crossing and it was still dark. It's a little ways from the 7th to the 8th crossing and there was enough light to see so I turned my bike light off.

Felt like crap today from the start of the ride to the end, not much energy and slow going. Last time I did this ride I felt great all day and got turned around by lightning storm. Today I was not so lucky, pack felt heavy, haven't lifted enough weights lately, pack was pushing 30 pounds and bike weighed about 31 pounds with two bottles.

By the time I was on the switchbacks up Silver Canyon, it was pretty cold, I would say mid 30s F. Hands and feet were cold and feet didn't dry out until much later. I got passed by only a few vehicles going up Silver Canyon, a lifted Chevy, a Toyota truck, an ATV and a Bronco II in that order and one Toyota truck going down with a mt biker that said he was going to ride up Silver Canyon today.

By the time I had gotton to the last switchback it was time to put some sunscreen as the sunshine finally appeared. I had about half of my lunch here too, a thick turkey sandwich, heavy on the turkey.

A few hours later I started riding again. Naw, not really but it felt like it. In total, it took me 5 hours to climb up Silver Canyon today, I don't know how much of this time I was actually moving but it was probably about 3.5 hours. I don't know how it took so long. The heavy pack makes riding any of that steep, technical stuff nearly impossible.

At the top of the ridge I just started riding again, slowly but surely. Just past the turnoff for Patriach grove Mike driving the Tahoe caught up to me. He's an old college bud and was hiking the peak with his girlfriend and some friends and camping at Grandview. I had figured how late I was running that they would have passed by before I got up Silver Canyon, so I was surprised to see them. He was going to leave me a gallon of water under his truck. As we talked I realized how late it was getting and how much behind schedule I was. I think it was about 11:30am at this point, but I'm not sure.

Turns out this was open gate day. I heard a WMRS lady at Barcroft say open gate day is twice a year, the first Sunday of August and the first Sunday of September. Once Mike passed I decided I had to pick up the pace if I wanted to (1) catch them on the hike and (2) make the summit and be out before dark.

I came around the bend where Barcroft can first be seen and I could see the Tahoe driving up half way between the gate and the station. I kept pumping up to Barcroft and found the gallon of water Mike had left under his truck, had maybe a liter of it, but I still had two full bottles on the bike and probably 90 ounces on my back. I didn't need to drink nearly as much today as last time I rode it due to the early, cold start.

I found that the sign that says 6 miles to the trailhead and then 4 miles to the trailhead is about a mile off, it's more like 7 and 5 miles.

Backtracking... from Campito Meadow at about 10,700, the road is paved and steep all the way to the Patriach grove turnoff at 11,240 about 0.8 miles up the road. Along this paved section, there is a 11,000' elevation sign.

After the turnoff to Patriach grove, the road becomes dirt again and there is a short section of slightly technical rocky climbing. The next few miles to the hiker gate goes by pretty quick because there is some descending and mellow grades.

Before the gate, the road ahead beyond the gate looks very steep but it's not as bad as it looks but it is a little sandy but just on the lower portion. I stopped here and finished the turkey sandwich and refilled my Camelbak trying to eat as quick as possible.

The climb up to Barcroft, 2 miles from the gate, goes pretty quick and is pretty mellow riding (and also a quick descent). The gate is at 11,675' and Barcroft is at 12,425'. Being open gate day, Barcroft was packed with cars.

I was at Barcroft at about 12:30pm I think, maybe 12:45pm, no later. I got to Barcroft with about 85 ounces on my back and 50 on the bike. I had about a liter of Mike's water. After walking most of the climb from Barcroft to the observatory, I started cruising downhill and caught up with Mike within a few minutes. I walked with them for a little bit and then took off riding for the peak.

Once at about 13,000 feet it was pretty cold and maybe up to 20mph gusts, I put on the leg warmers and long shirt and was still a little cold. At the summit it was significantly warmer and no wind.

I was on the switchbacks by about 1:15pm and was shooting for the summit by 2pm. If I was hiking that would have been reasonable, but I was pretty tired at this point and wasn't doing much riding and pushing the bike up was tough.

At the edge of the big switchback, right at 14,000 feet and just after 2:50pm, just past the snow patch that lingers up there the longest, I dropped my bike 246 feet and 0.57 miles below the peak and took off walking for the peak. Man was it easy to walk compared to pushing the bike.

I was on the summit at 3:10pm, took a few pictures had something to drink and eat, and left the summit at 3:20pm. Had about 50 ounces on me at the summit and the bike still had about 50 ounces on it. Not much view because of a fire in the Sierras south of Bishop which also made the air quality suck on the ride up.

I passed Mike and group about midway on that long top switchback, saw a guy and his wife riding up from Barcroft, talked to a few people here and there and was back at Barcroft probably within about 30 minutes from the summit. I've hiked this peak twice and this was my first time riding it, nothing beats not having to do the walk back and just cruising back at 15-20 mph to Barcroft. I walked the climb at the base of the switchbacks near the 13,000' point and rode the rest; the climbs back to Barcroft were very mellow.

At Barcroft I dumped one full bottle off the bike, which I should have dumped long before, and added 32 ounces to my back from the water Mike dropped. I still had about 22 ounces on the bike and probably 70 ounces on my back. So from Barcroft to the summit and back to Barcroft I used only about 1.5 liters plus the liter I had at Barcroft before leaving for the summit. The amount used from the hiker gate to Barcroft is probably about 5-10 ounces.

The ride back wasn't bad, the climbs where there but they were all pretty mellow, once again, the worst part was the dust from the cars coming down. I had left the summit at 3:20pm and was back at my truck at 7:20 pm, taking it easy the whole way. The descents on White mountain road were fast and fun and it didn't seem as washboarded as before, maybe I just had better lines.

Got back to my truck with about 45 ounces on my back and a bottle with about 22 ounces. In total, I took about 60 ounces from Mike. So I had an excess of around 7 ounces on me doing the ride self-supported, although the water from Mike didn't have that bike bottle taste to it. Started the ride with 254 ounces, with no water drops I would have finished with about nothing left. Would have needed quite a bit more without that cold early start. I think I used only about 40 ounces by the top of Silver Canyon, whereas, last time I had used about 120 ounces by this time. Last time I felt like I was working and felt good, this time I felt like I was just trudging along, not really much effort going on, except from Patriarch to Barcroft where I picked up the pace to catch Mike's group. For the entire descent from the summit back to my truck, which includes about 2000' of climbing, I only used about a liter.

Mike was going to drive down Silver Canyon. I thought we would get down about the same time what with the 2000 feet of climbing I had to do on the way out that he would be driving and with how tired I was and slow I was moving. It turns out, they didn't get back to Barcroft until 7:45pm and got out of Silver Canyon at about 9:30pm. I waited for them until about 8:20pm and then went to get something to eat and headed back. I caught them on Silver Canyon Rd just past the museum. They were headed for a $9.99 prime rib dinner.

I was going to camp at the base of Silver Canyon for another night but the mosquitos were real heavy right then, whereas there was only 1 or 2 the night before and not too bad on my ride a month ago. One night, no mosquitos, the next, they're thick as could be. So just before 10pm I decided to drive home and got back just before 2am on Labor day 9/5/05, cleanup, shower, and in bed by 2:30am with no mosquitos, 23 hours after I started this day.
Notes about this ride report
Computer readings:
Distance: 61.79 miles + 1.14 round trip miles hiking without bike from 14,000' to summit, total distance for day is 62.93 miles from first stream crossing on Silver Canyon to summit and back.
Moving time: 10 hours, 31 minutes
Moving time up: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Moving time down: 3 hours
Average moving speed: 6.35 mph
Average moving speed up (at summit): 4.5 mph
Max speed: 39.2 mph
Odometer: 8941 miles
Total time on computer: 52:44 hours
Total distance on computer: 529.29 miles
Walk to summit: 0.57 miles each way from apex of long 14,000 switchback
Stop watch time on HR moniter, start to finish: 14:43:08
Not moving time: 4 hours 12 minutes (damn that's a long time)
Average HR: 135 (for 14 hr, 43 minutes)
Max HR: 175 (early in the ride in the dark)
Kcal: 15,444
Above 11,000 it was hard to get HR above 160
I did not push it at all on this ride, it was kind of boring because I felt crappy all day... just one of those days. Got up at 3:30am
Started riding at 4:30am
Top of Silver Canyon at 9:30am (5 hours for 9.5 miles, that sucks!)
Barcroft at about 12:45pm
On peak at 3:10pm
Leave peak at 3:20pm
Finished at 7:20pm

From first stream crossing to base of switchbacks on silver canyon is 5.5 miles. From there to top of Silver Canyon, before the descent down to White Mtn road 4S01 is 4 miles.

The descent off White Mountain back to the hiker gate is fun. White mountain switchbacks are a little technical on the descent but not bad and still pretty fast. The descent down Silver Canyon is fun any day of the week and that top 4 miles is a real finger and calf workout.

Great day, tough ride, a little sore the next day, not bad, mostly fingers, saddle sore and back from backpack rubbing.

I was glad to make it out before dark. I can't believe how long it took. I was going slow all day.

Started with 6 liters on back and 2 28 oz bottles on bike, tons of food and even a derailleur hanger becuase I had just replaced it and didn't trust the new one... now I do.
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