Forum Index > Trip Reports > Jefferson, Arc Dome, Dubois, Boundary, Saline Valley and more, October 15-27, 2018
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Gimpilator
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PostWed Oct 31, 2018 7:14 pm 
I knew that if there was going to be any chance of completing the DPS list over the winter, I would need to finish up the highest peaks before the routes became too treacherous.  DPS has been a 7 year project of mine.  Hopefully it wasnít already too late in the season.

But before tackling the big 13ers, I would need to spend a few days acclimatizing and this would also allow for a preview of the ultimate objectives.  If there appeared to be too much snow in the northern White Mountains, I would simply pull the plug.

Warning: This report has turned out rather detailed, so if you donít have the time or the patience, suggest you just enjoy the photos.

October 15, 2018
Lone Mountain Ė 9108'

The night before, I drove as close as possible to the mouth of Springdale Canyon, but found the road to be washed out.  I pitched my tent inside the washout, using the natural depression as a wind shelter.


The next morning, inside the canyon, I passed some old broken down rock shelters, evidence of mining history.  Climbing out of the canyon was steep and loose in one area.  I came to the upper saddle directly north of the peak and ascended the final slopes to the top.

Arc Dome and Jefferson left of center
Arc Dome and Jefferson left of center
White Mountain Peak
White Mountain Peak

Oct 16
Mount Jefferson Ė 11,941'

The road to the saddle between Jefferson and Shoshone Mountain was deeply rutted.  I didnít want to risk it, so variation start would begin off-trail and be significantly longer than the standard way.  I parked at the guard station and hiked northwest through an old pasture.  I had to squeeze under a barbed wire fence and then made a long ascending traverse to reach the south ridge around 9000 feet.

Jefferson
Jefferson
Shoshone
Shoshone

The wind was at a minimum and it was much warmer than I had expected at such a high altitude.  My pack was loaded to the max with warm layers, which I was not wearing.  The south ridge route rises monotonously, following an old jeep track.  It is anything but spectacular.  Somewhere among some talus, the road ended and became a foot path.

Toiyabe Dome and Arc Dome
Toiyabe Dome and Arc Dome

I passed around the west side of a high point and then circled around the northeast side of the peak.  Some snow present on the ground, but nothing challenging.


Good summit views and I could see the next big objective, Arc Dome.  I couldnít help but wonder what that route would be like with fresh snow, since much of the trail follows the northern aspects.

Shoshone
Shoshone
Arc Dome
Arc Dome

Oct 17
I tried to drive to the SE approach for Shoshone Mountain, but was blocked by a very deep puddle spanning the road, frozen on top.  In an attempt to salvage the day, I drove over to the San Antonio Mountains, but that access road was washed out near the mining operation, much too far to attempt without a bicycle.  Having been defeated twice without even setting foot outside the car, I gave up the game for the day and proceeded to the Arc Dome trailhead to camp for the night.


Oct 18
Arc Dome Ė 11,773'

When I started hiking, an hour or two before dawn, it was about 12 degrees outside.  I havenít felt the cold like that in many years.  Around 9600 feet I passed a deer hunter overlooking the upper Stewart Creek valley.  I was amazed that he was able to sit in the cold for extended periods without moving.  We nodded to each other without making a sound.  He must have started even earlier than I did.


I followed the old jeep track through dense sage and traversed southward above several natural benches.  At 10,300 feet the track turned up slope and went onto a large open plateau.  This was covered with snow drifts, which were still frozen with a solid top crust.  I floated on the crust most of the time without sinking in.  It was impossible to determine where the trail might be, and pointless because I could see where I needed to go.

Arc Dome
Arc Dome
curious
curious
bucks
bucks

Looking back over my shoulder, there were four bucks watching me with curiosity.  I told them they better be careful because the hunter down below was waiting for them.  Traversing around the west side of North Arc Dome, I descended to the saddle north of the main peak.  Here the cold finally relented slightly.


The north ridge of the peak rose above me for a thousand feet.  I couldnít help but feel elated.  There was some snow, but not enough to make the going difficult.  This is a much better peak than Jefferson.  I could feel the altitude now and had to make the conscious effort to slow down where it was steep.


On the summit, commanding views of Toiyabe peaks, forests and valleys.

Jefferson
Jefferson
Arc Dome summit
Arc Dome summit

North Arc Dome Ė 11,406'

I went to inspect the north peak on the way back.  No register that I could find.

the north peak
the north peak
Cirque Mountain
Cirque Mountain
main peak
main peak
Jefferson
Jefferson

Oct 19
Mount Augusta Ė 9966'

The crux of this peak is the drive.  The direct Cherry Creek road is signed No Trespassing, so the only alternative is to drive the War Canyon road, which is long and rough and circuitous.  Only barely within the capability of a Subaru.  This road goes around the north side of Railroad Ridge and is visible on Google Maps.

Cherry Valley
Cherry Valley
old road
old road

Having driven the worst already, I parked at the junction at 7500 feet in Cherry Valley.  If I had known better, I could have easily gone to 8200 feet and saved 3 miles round trip.  Anyhow, I hiked the old eroded and overgrown switchbacks to the ridge crest a mile north of the peak.  That made for a pleasant traverse and final ascent on the more defined upper north ridge.

summit right of center
summit right of center
Augusta summit
Augusta summit

Oct 20
Pilot Peak Ė 9182'

It might be possible to drive to within a stones throw of this summit, however the road is very steep.  I didnít want to overtax the engine and risk overheating it, so I parked at 7360 feet in Telephone Canyon and walked the rest of the way up.


I was fortunate to see a live tarantula walking in the canyon, my first time ever.  It was moving slowly and seemed very docile, even when I got close for a better look at it.  From the summit there was a great view of the northern White Mountains.  I was excited to see that the snow accumulation on that range hadnít yet become a deterrent.

White
White
Dubois and Montgomery
Dubois and Montgomery

Oct 21
Mount Dubois Ė 13,559'

The route on Arc Dome had been long, but this peak by the SE Chiatovich Creek route would be a much harder undertaking.  To make matters worse, I pushed my car to the very limit and only made it about a half mile beyond the gate before the road became completely impassible.  I knew that this would add 4 more miles to the 14 mile day.

It seemed like too much, considering it was already sort of late in the season and the southeast summit plateau remains so high for so many miles.  I fought back some trepidation as the sun was setting.  I just didnít want to drive around for the standard northeast approach, because I knew there would be a lot more snow over there.

Being fully acclimatized, I decided to give it my best shot and try not to be too bummed out if I failed or ran out of time.  I set the alarm for an hour earlier than my original plan and decided to leave the tent set up all day, since I would be too exhausted to do anything except eat, when I came back down.

I walked the several miles of road in total darkness.  After so many days camping above or near 8000 feet, I was getting used to the cold.  Occasionally a bird would explode out of a tree startled awake by my headlamp.  Around 8300 feet the road switched to an ATV track and I lost it several times in the predawn gloom.


I accidentally crossed the South Fork Chiatovich Creek aiming for the wrong ridge and then quickly corrected my error.  After studying my map again, I made for the saddle at 9300 feet and was pleased to find a good trail through the sage heading that way.  From the saddle, I left the trail and bushwhacked west up to the corner of the ridge at 9520 feet.

sheep
sheep

From this point forward, I made fairly quick progress of the east ridge.  I spotted a lone bighorn sheep above me on the ridgecrest.  At 12,000 feet I came to the start of a broad expanse.  From Mount Hogue to the south to the northern point of Mount Dubois, thereís about 5 or 6 square miles of ground, all above 12,000 feet.  Itís barren and otherworldly up there.


Throughout the morning, clouds had been building slowly.  I tried to remain calm by reminded myself that cloud formations in the California desert do not mean the same thing they do in Washington State.  But it was undeniable that a snowstorm was forming over White Mountain Peak.  I just hoped that it would hold off long enough for me to do the 6 miles over to the summit and back on this high plateau.

clouds gathering over White Mountain Peak
clouds gathering over White Mountain Peak

I made the gradual turn to the north and picked up the pace as much as my lungs would allow.  Actually, it was becoming apparent that I was slowing down.  The altitude made me slightly dizzy and my thoughts were reduced in speed and complexity.  I felt extremely lethargic and got some humor from the thought of saluting General Malaise.

summit from false summit
summit from false summit

I passed by the false summit.  The actual summit was still another half mile away, which seemed like a long way at the time.  I found the register in a pile of boulders.  There was a DPS calling card in the box.

Sierras across the way
Sierras across the way
snow storm growing
snow storm growing

Only some light snowflakes fell during the descent.  Not enough moisture in the air to amount to much really.  The aspens or birch were a lovely yellow color, something I had totally missed in the dark on the way up.

strange tree flowers
strange tree flowers
innovations in weaponry
innovations in weaponry

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Gimpilator
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PostWed Oct 31, 2018 7:15 pm 
Oct 22
Boundary Peak Ė 13,140'

I got a late start since I camped by Chiatovich Creek.  The standard east trail was pleasant, but didnít go to Trail Canyon saddle as I was expecting.  Instead it avoided the dense sage by ascending an open cirque northeast of Boundary Peak.  Despite itís fame as being the highest ground in Nevada, Boundary Peak doesnít quite make 300 feet of prominence, and thus is not a peak by the official rules.  It is however a great viewpoint.


I knew that this route would likely have the most snow of the entire trip, but I hadnít anticipated that it would be compacted by previous hikers into a sort of ice.  My micro-spikes were safely locked inside the car and it was a dumb mistake to go light and not carry them.  I made this blunder because all the other snow I had encountered thus far was either soft powder or sticky crust.

traverse a bit icy
traverse a bit icy

The ascending traverse on the steep upper north face proved a bit more spicy than I like.  I took my time and did it with caution.  From the summit I could see the entire northeast ridge of Montgomery which looked a bit interesting.

Montgomery
Montgomery

Montgomery Peak Ė 13,441'

I descended the ridge from Boundary and spotted three mature bighorn sheep down below.  I decided to try going along the west side of the ridge, since the crest appeared to have a few ugly gendarmes.  This was not a nice way to go, since there were patches of snow and big loose talus.

bighorns
bighorns

At the saddle I switched back to the east side.  Both sides are steep and have loose rock, but there are sections of boot track along the east side near the crest.  Nearing the peak, I scrambled up class 3 and maybe a move of 4th, however I learned on the descent that there is an easier way.

below
below
above
above

What a view!  This was my 90th or 91st DPS peak, depending on how you count it.  There are 99 peaks on the original list, but as a club list the official number changes somewhat often depending on access issues.  Iím working the original 99 without regard to what might be temporary suspensions.

Montgomery summit
Montgomery summit
Boundary
Boundary

Trail Canyon Saddle Peak Ė 11,325'

I descended a different way after passing back over Boundary Peak so as to squeeze one more peak into the day.  This one is worth the detour because it has such a nice view of the north face of Boundary and other lower White Mountains peaks to the north.  Next person up, bring a register.

Trail canyon Peak down there in the shade
Trail canyon Peak down there in the shade
view of Boundary from the summit
view of Boundary from the summit

Oct 25
Saline Valley petroglyphs

To preserve the integrity of this historic site, I wonít reveal itís location.  There is a burial ground nearby, which I explored but did not photograph.  Hundreds of graves are apparent, some of which have been dated back to the Stone Age, roughly 5000 years.  The rocks marking the grave sites are so old that a dark desert patina has formed on them.  I did take numerous photos of the pictographs and petroglyphs, of which Iíll share only a small portion.

arrastra
arrastra

Oct 27
Warm Benchmark Ė 6196'

After several days of visiting with friends in Saline Valley and soaking in the warm waters there, I was ready for a hike.  Warm Point aka Warm Benchmark is situated so that itís broad mass overlooks both the large southern portion of Saline Valley, and the narrower north arm, which divides the Saline Range on the west from the Last Chance Range to the east.  It could easily be considered one of the most isolated and remote peaks in the state of California.  I had no information on how to do it aside from hours studying maps.  On most sides it is well guarded by extremely steep and rotten slopes with cliff bands or riddled by complex canyons and washes too lengthy and too indirect.

old school
old school
bat on a palm near the springs
bat on a palm near the springs

The route I envisioned started on the rugged Steel Pass road and climbed the ridge which forms the north wall of Lucky Rich Canyon.  From a distance it appears as the only white ridge in a series, which is from the layers of rotten limestone.  It looked decent on the map albeit steep, and at 12 miles round trip it was probably the shortest feasible approach from any existing road.  What I ultimately discovered is that the ridge direct doesnít go.

moon over Inyo Range
moon over Inyo Range
chosen ridge left of Lucky Rich Canyon
chosen ridge left of Lucky Rich Canyon

After climbing gullies and exposed rotten ledges up a cliff band, I came back to the crest at 4200 feet only to find a knife-edge of rotten limestone with big loose blocks and heavy exposure on either side.  I could see bigger cliffs and a high vertical step formation above.  I made my way gingerly back down below the first gully following and removing my cairns as I went.  What next?

Saline Peak
Saline Peak
Last Chance Range spanning north
Last Chance Range spanning north

I traversed north, staying below the cliff until I came to a big gully divided up into separate sub-gullies.  There were a number of options here to progress upwards, but all of them included plenty of loose rock.  I chose the left most sub-gully and used it to reach a more northern spur of the ridge.  This spur allowed me to circumvent the major cliffs and step formation.  For the next 400 vertical feet it was fun class 3 and route finding with numerous ledges and airy spots.  I rejoined the main ridge at 4600 feet.  I found a good layer of fossils there, but didnít bother to photograph them in the less than ideal shaded light.

narrow ledge
narrow ledge
above
above
what I came up
what I came up

At 5000 feet I came to a layer of basalt which had a scramble step that took some thought.  I continued along the ridge over a highpoint of rotten volcanic rock and came to the upper broad sage land which forms separate terraces of the mesa-like top of the mountain.  There was still another 2 miles or so and the summit was not yet visible.  In the sun now, I could feel the temperature rising above 80 degrees.  What a difference after a week at high altitude.

chossy basalt
chossy basalt
false summit
false summit

I tried to make good time on my trek to the southeast, but with as much time as the ridge had taken, I realized I would be facing the full heat of the day on the way back.  Passing over a northern false summit, I could finally see the slightly higher summit still a mile and a half away.  At the top I found wreckage of the original survey equipment as well as the register.  I was the 16th ascent party since 1999.

summit barely visible in the far distance
summit barely visible in the far distance
Waucoba right of center
Waucoba right of center
USGS garbage on the summit
USGS garbage on the summit
Saline dry lake and Inyos Range
Saline dry lake and Inyos Range
Dry Mountain
Dry Mountain
White Top and Leaning Rock
White Top and Leaning Rock

On the descent I decided to try a different ridge, the next one to the north.  This turned out to be a good choice because there was no rotten limestone to contend with.  This one might make for a decent ascent route, aside from all the steep scree at the base.

a better ridge down
a better ridge down
looking over at the ascent ridge
looking over at the ascent ridge
another view of the ascent ridge
another view of the ascent ridge

If you are considering trying this peak, there are two other potential routes.  One makes use of the volcanic washes southwest of the peak and the other begins in Ubehebe Valley and crosses through the unnamed valley east of the peak.  Both of those options are much longer in distance.  At least one person who signed the register came from Ubehebe and took more than a single day to get it done.

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Ski
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PostWed Oct 31, 2018 8:42 pm 
wow! up.gif

what are we looking at there in the 13th and 14th images of the petroglyphs? (third row down, first and second from right)

I am wondering if it is a single image on its own, or if it is to be taken in a larger context with the adjacent images.

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Gimpilator
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PostWed Oct 31, 2018 9:41 pm 
I've been wondering the same thing.  Someone I know says that one is a mastodon, but I'm not convinced.  It's really hard to say.

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PostWed Oct 31, 2018 10:08 pm 
I'm wondering who I can shoot that image to who might be able to offer an educated guess.

Curiously some of the images are the same as found up at Ozette. Most likely for the same reasons.

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Jake Robinson
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PostThu Nov 01, 2018 12:20 am 
Nice to see you back in the desert, keep those trips and TRs coming  up.gif

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Fletcher
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PostThu Nov 01, 2018 1:33 am 
Adam, I am praying for your Subaru...

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Sculpin
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PostFri Nov 02, 2018 2:32 pm 
I really appreciate the detailed descriptions of very rarely visited destinations.   up.gif

There is a lifetime of exploring just in Inyo County.  I have not yet quite made it into Saline Valley but next year maybe it will happen.

Gimpilator wrote:
strange tree flowers
strange tree flowers

Mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus sp.), perhaps ledifolius

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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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belowfellow
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PostFri Nov 02, 2018 8:22 pm 
I really enjoy your desert trip reports and am looking forward to returning this winter!


Sculpin wrote:
Mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus sp.), perhaps ledifolius

I agree with Sculpin. Looks like C. ledifolius with the leathery leaves and curled leaf edges.  I believe this also grows in SE WA.

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Distel32
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PostWed Nov 07, 2018 7:44 am 
up.gif  up.gif  up.gif

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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Jefferson, Arc Dome, Dubois, Boundary, Saline Valley and more, October 15-27, 2018
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