A glass from the past
(Glass Mountain 11,140)

14 Jun 2002 - by Debbie Bulger

Glass Mountain is the perfect peak to climb in the spring. It is about 20 miles east of Mammoth, and the view of the snow-frosted Sierra from its summit is superb. About 760,000 years ago a huge volcano erupted and left one of the largest calderas known. Twenty miles across from east to west and ten miles from north to south, the Long Valley caldera has Mammoth Mountain on its west rim and Glass Mountain on its east rim. The details are noted in Geology Underfoot in Death Valley and Owens Valley by Sharp and Glazner. Richard Stover and I used this book as our guide to a fascinating climb.

We had the Sawmill Meadow "Campground," (9200 feet) all to ourselves. The marshy meadow was adorned with blooming irises, cinquefoil, and shooting stars. The class 1 climb is rated to take 3 hours by the DPS, but I suspect that time is for those who don't pause to examine the obsidian. We spent most of the day. On the summit, we spread out the Inyo National Forest map and spent an hour identifying peaks, checking out the caldera and other volcanic features below.

Naturally, we had to walk to the north summit. And all over the east and south sides of the mountain enjoying the black and brown obsidian and other volcanic rocks. Dang, that stuff is sharp! I cut my finger picking up a piece. Just below the north summit we ate lunch in the pines and watched the vivid pine grosbeaks. The trip was a clear success.

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