White Mountain Peak
By: John McCully
From the Owens Valley
Proceeding north on State 6 we turned right on the clearly marked and initially paved "White Mountain Ranch" road about a mile north of BM 4571. After about a mile this road veers toward the southeast. A fork appears just short of the mouth of Millner Creek, with the right fork joining the road which enters the canyon directly from State 6. The entry to this road from State 6 is bared by a gate. We managed to get the car to around 6,000 feet, with the car suffering a small hole (60 miles/quart) in the oil pan.
Two roads lead up the canyon, one on each side of the creek. Leaving the car at 7am we walked up the road along the north side of the creek. At about 6800 feet the road to the south of the creek makes some really dramatic eyesore switchbacks up to the mine. About 200 yards short of these switchbacks several ducks (Including one on top of a vent pipe) indicate the start of a trail going up a scree slope on the left. This trail lasts for 1/2 mile and deposits one above a couple of nasty looking waterfalls. Everything else is straightforward. Following the creek a dozen or so waterfalls intervene but with a single exception all can be bypassed by only going up fifty feet or so on one side or the other. The exception is the second waterfall above the trail end which can either be done by wading through three feet of water or by going up a couple of hundred feet on the right. Nothing tougher than easy class three was encountered.
At 8,700 feet we took the left fork. At about 10,000 feet the water disappeared for the first time, reappearing twice later, the last time (we only heard it) at around 12,000 feet. At 11,000 feet we left the creek bottom for the ridge on the left. Next time I might try the right fork at 8,700 and the ridge with the 11,810 bump as the scree on the route we took seemed Interminable. We finally made the yellow summit ridge about 6:30 and considered collapsing on the spot but somehow managed to push on to the summit by 7:30.
We left the summit the next morning at 7:15 and returned via the same route, arriving at the car by 2:15. Having somehow managed to keep his feet dry on the way up, Igor quickly compromised his climbing style on the descent by getting them wet. Tennis shoes would certainly appear to be in order for the lower portion of this route. We considered descending via the splendid smooth ridge which begins around Mt. Barcroft and separates Millner Creek from Sabies Canyon, an idea which increased in attractiveness after discovering that it took us 7 hours to get down via the creek, all the little waterfalls now appearing quite formidable.
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