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White Mountain Peak MTB — Locked Gate to White Mountain Peak Summit

Last updated August 06, 2011 - Send Feedback

Leaving the locked gate behind at mile ~25.0 / 11,600', a moderately steep climb levels out after about a mile, with the University of California Barcroft research station appearing a few miles later.

This photo taken the day prior to our full ascent, a test ride.

Just past the locked gate and prior to Barcroft
Just past the locked gate and prior to Barcroft
Photo by Geoffrey Faraghan

In the image below, one can see the road at center from Patriarch Grove.

This photo taken the day prior to our full ascent, a test ride.

Half-way from locked gate to Barcroft, looking back towards Patriarch Grove. The road is visible in the distance at center
Half-way from locked gate to Barcroft, looking back towards Patriarch Grove. The road is visible in the distance at center.

A location we named Gunsight Rock, location of our 4th and final cache, a critical cache for both up and down portions.

The clouds are now becoming worrisome with audible thunder and visible lightning and rain.

“Gunsight Rock”, about 2/3 the way to Barcroft from the lockec gate
“Gunsight Rock”, about 2/3 the way to Barcroft from the locked gate

This photo taken the day prior to our full ascent, a test ride.

Trek SuperFly 100 Elite and Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL at “Gunsight Rock”, our 4th and last cache of food and water
Trek SuperFly 100 Elite and Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL at “Gunsight Rock”, our 4th and last cache of food and water

The road visible at far (below) right gets loose and rocky until the low summit left of center, but is rideable most of the way with some effort. Topping out, one can ride all the way to the saddle across the wide and broad meadow, very nice stuff.

Passing the White Mountain Research Center (formerly known as the University of California Barcroft Facility prior to 2012), the very rough 2-track road turns upward with perhaps a 13-15% grade, much of which is loose fist-size rocks and gravel which is difficult to ride without generating substantial power. However, except for a short middle section, nearly all of this grade is rideable.

This photo taken the day prior to our full ascent, a test ride.

University of California Barcroft Facility
University of California Barcroft Facility

Once one tops out at the minor summit past Barcroft, a broad meadow appears, populated by hordes of marmots and some pika. From here, all is rideable until the top of the small hill abutting the saddle near top center, where conditions become very loose and rocky for 100 feet or so. Otherwise it is entirely rideable up and down.

The wide-open meadow about 1/2 mile past Barcroft, summit of White Mountain Peak in distance Route dips, then rises to hum at right, descends into saddle, then climbs to summit
The wide-open meadow about 1/2 mile past Barcroft, summit of White Mountain Peak in distance
Route dips, then rises to hum at right, descends into saddle, then climbs to summit

Once one crests the short section past Barcroft, a broad meadow opens with a clear view of the summit some miles away. A fast descent into the meadow is follow by a gradually steepening climb to the top of a low hill, which then drops into a saddle via a very loose and rocky section, perhaps the riskiest descent of the entire ride. Since fatigue and altitude are at play, only the most skilled and alert riders should consider the nastiest 100 yards or so of this descent

Once in the low point of the saddle, the route, begins to climb steeply, with good sections of very rideable road, but also with short sections with loose rock and gravel, so one might have to alternately ride and walk. Assuming one has acclimatized and has good power, 80% or more of the 2-track road (barely) can be ridden all the way to the summit, but if snow persists, one will have to bypass the road and tediously climb loose scree/talus to reach the summit, since snow can obscure the last sections of the road just below the summit.

This photo taken the day prior to our full ascent, a test ride.

Your author with White Mountain Peak in the background, trail visible at right, Barcroft having been passed
Your author with White Mountain Peak in the background, trail visible at right, Barcroft having been passed

Most snow had melted by the July 29 2011 ascent, but a few patches remained.

The Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL about 1400' short of the White Mountain Peak summit Photo by Geoffrey Faraghan
The Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL about 1400' short of the White Mountain Peak summit
Photo by Geoffrey Faraghan

I’m alive and kicking at about 12,800'. No, I don’t have a skin problem, that’s the horrible color banding noise of the Sigma DP2x digital camera.

Your author near the summit of White Mountain Peak, elevation ~13000'
Your author near the summit of White Mountain Peak, elevation ~13000'

A large flock of Bighorn Sheep can often be seen in this area, or even all the way down to Silver Canyon. This herd is closely monitored and studied, with many of the animals bearing transmitter collars around their necks.

Bighorn Sheep at about 13,200' on White Mountain Peak
Flock of Bighorn Sheep at about 13,200' on White Mountain Peak

The summit structure finally comes into view. While this section is eminently rideable, as it steepens and turns loose and rocky it becomes more difficult.

White Mountain Peak summit comes into view
White Mountain Peak summit comes into view

At this point I’m in good spirits because it sure looks like I’ll succeed in summitting.

Your author, self portrait, at about 13700' near summit of White Mountain Peak
Your author, self portrait, at about 13700' near summit of White Mountain Peak

While the weather isn’t so bad to the south, lightning and rain are present to the east. The meadow shown here was later coated with a bright white layer of fresh snow.

Rain falls to the east, with lightning and thunder, near summit of White Mountain Peak
Rain falls to the east, with lightning and thunder, near summit of White Mountain Peak
Lightning, rain, hail, and snow near summit of White Mountain Peak Photo by Geoffrey Faraghan
Lightning, rain, hail, and snow near summit of White Mountain Peak
Photo by Geoffrey Faraghan

Looking back towards the University of California Barcroft research station from about 13,700'.

Looking back towards Barcroft from ~13,700' elevation near White Mountain Peak summit
Looking back towards Barcroft from ~13,700' elevation near White Mountain Peak summit

Approaching the summit

On July 29, 2011, snow blocked the road to the summit, forcing a tedious clamber up the loose scree/talus slope, not so difficult on foot perhaps, but a lot of extra trouble pushing a 29er bike uphill.

At this point, the heavy cloud cover had dropped the temperature into the 40’s, and so I donned my Mountain Hardware Nitrous down vest and my IbexWear full-finger gloves, as well as my Pearl Izumi tights. Lightning and snow and hail were visible to the east.

Snow can block the road below the summit, making for a tedious climb up a scree/talus slope
Snow can block the road below the summit, making for a tedious climb up a scree/talus slope

Deep and very soft snow blocked the road, which mean a tedious and very slow scramble pushing the bike up loose scree/talus.

Snow can block the road below the summit, making for a tedious climb up a scree/talus slope
Snow can block the road below the summit, making for a tedious climb up a scree/talus slope
Looking west and down from White Mountain Peak
Looking west and down from White Mountain Peak
The summit of White Mountain Peak, with a small research building. Lightning rods snake away from the building, do not spend time here when the air is crackling! Photo by Geoffrey Faraghan
The summit of White Mountain Peak, with a small research building.
Lightning rods snake away from the building, do not spend time here when the air is crackling!
Photo by Geoffrey Faraghan
The made-in-the-USA Trek SuperFly 100 Elite at the summit of White Mountain Peak
The made-in-the-USA Trek SuperFly 100 Elite at the summit of White Mountain Peak
Your author on White Mountain Peak summit, Trek SuperFly 100 Elite and American flag in background
Your author on White Mountain Peak summit, Trek SuperFly 100 Elite and American flag in background

2012

See the 2012 photos.

At the summit of 14,252 White Mountain Peak , snowstorm in progress, August 2012
At the summit of 14,252 White Mountain Peak , snowstorm in progress, August 2012

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