Black Mountain (White Mountains)

31 Mar 1999 - by Eric Beck

Another candidate for the WIMP ( Winter, Inyo, Mono, Peak ) List, and yes, yet another Black Mountain. This is the peak due east of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory, at the southern end of the White Mountains. I was joined by Toy, Joe Kelsey, and Paul Horton, a friend of Joes visiting from Wyoming. Paul, as it turns out, has secretly climbed Moapa, Castle Dome, Bridge Mtn, and just did Telescope. We turned off the Westgard Pass road toward White Mountain. 0.4 miles past the kiosk, currently unmanned, we turned left on an unmarked dirt road. After 0.7 miles there was a bad patch and we parked. Part of the idea was to get exercise. We followed the road south and then more west. A fork to the right we decided was in the wrong direction. After a few miles, the road appeared to be descending to the west, so we took off straight toward the peak. After a quarter mile, we were back on the road, which had apparently made a big descending switchback. The road wound up and around, finally revealing its true purpose at a mine in the south flank of our peak. From the mine we contoured up and right to the broad east ridge, mostly snowy. The summit was marked by a 4 x 4 in a cairn; we found no register, but did leave one. It had been flurrying all day, and now began to snow more seriously. We did a direct descent back to a saddle a little west of the mine to avoid snow. Steep, loose, reminded me of the San Gabriels. Round trip stats: 9 miles, 1700 feet, 4 hrs 20 min.

As it turned out, the only bad spot in the road was right where we parked, and it was only 50 yards long. All the rest looked like easy 2wd with snow patches. The earth is soft in that area and it looked like it would only take about 20 minutes with a shovel to make the bad patch easy. If one drove all the way to the mine, 0.5 miles, 500 feet.

There should be a great view across the valley of the Sierra, although we cannot say.

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