Basin Mountain, Mount Tom


By: Joe Wankum, Bob Wyka

Jim Raiford had to cancel to keep eye on dog recuperating from surgery. Bob Wyka agreed to assist. Original permit for 10 was increased to 16 to accommodate all. Thursday pm, list stood at 12 with 2 possibles. Ten showed up; everyone got at least one peak with 7 up Basin and 7 on Tom.

DRIVE: From H395 in Bishop. west on Lime for approximately 7 mi, right on Buttermilk road for 5.7 mi. Just after road starts getting rough (last 0.2 mi), right on another dirt road (sign missing) for 0.8 mi to parking in Aspen grove at 7400 ft. Dirt road is good washboard with rocks sticking up last mile.

BACKPACK TO HORTON LAKE (4 mi. 2600 ft, dirt road all the way): Sat, left at 6:40, right at first junction, locked gate at 3/4 mi, wood bridge over stream at half way point, buildings several hundred feet above lake, then down to campsite near lake by 9:25. (Half the group could have easily made it in 1/2 hour less.) Lake has one large campsite, smaller sites to east and south.

BASIN: Nine took off at 10:40 around east end of lake to inlet stream, then mostly up boulders to first lake where 2 wisely turned back. The rest continued to upper lake (last water). After taking bearing to confirm location of hidden summit, group headed up NW slope to saddle west of summit. then left, contouring around back side of first bump, and on to summit. Group left summit at 3 pm (accompanied by light rain/soft hail) straight down talus/scree to around 11,600 ft. (Gully continues down to top of cliff/waterfall.) Then contoured left to upper lake and dorm to campsite by 5:30.

TOM: Sun, left at 6:40. With slow, steady pace, seven headed up road/switchbacks and were on plateau near vertical rod at 8:00 and on to Tungstar mine by 8:30. Just past mine (at end of road), headed up talus to ridge, then had to contour left through a number of gullies/ribs before reaching talus slope that led to summit. (It would have been better to have gone up the way we came down.) After all the detouring. first people were on summit well before noon with last an top by 1 pm. With clouds approaching, first 3 left, making it down to mine before rain started. The last 4 had descended only about 500 feet when light rain/hail started, which slowed descent considerably. Descent was straight down gully from top to within 5-600 feet of mine, then left to next gully and on down to mine. Steady rainfall then started and lasted an hour. Threat of lightning rushed group across plateau to where road starts descent. As last of group approached vertical rod (marking start of descent), a lightning strike up the ridge gave the group even more encouragement to move. At camp, last of group had packed up by 5 and were at cars by 6:40.

A special thanks goes to Bob, whose stamina and leadership got us up the peaks (even though he had to slow to half speed to stay with group) and to Barbara Cohen and Ruth Armentrout for their assistance. Others included Ron Campbell, Barry Holzman, Ralph Lefevre, Suranne Novatny, Stuart Nowinski, and Stuart Rigney. Several were WTCers who gained their first SPS peak on the trip.

The extensive talus fields on these peaks and the nearly 10,000 feet of gain for the weekend make this trip a long one for participants without much boulder hopping experience. The hike up Tom would go much faster if all participants had expertise in moving swiftly across boulder fields.

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