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White Mountain Peak MTB — Start at Owens River
Get an early start, or carry lights for a late-day descent, because any kind of delay, including mechanical breakdowns, could mean a descent in the dark.
The clock-time was about 15 hours, which included numerous stops for photos. Riding time was about 9:30, but that was at the speed of the slower rider, for whom I waited periodically. Exceptionally fit and strong riders should be able to do the round trip in about 8 hours. Also, summit snow delayed the ascent considerably because of detouring from the road, and having to push the bike up a loose talus/scree to the summit.
In 2011, we rode gearing of 30 X 36, which is not low enough for comfort in Silver Canyon— very hard in places, strong legs required to avoid walking.
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We cached gear in four caches along the way.
Cache or carry (at the minimum):
- Extra food and water;
- Tights to keep legs warm.
- Waterproof and windproof lightweight jacket, preferably with a hood that fits under helmet.
- Warm sweater or lightweight down jacket.
- Long finger gloves with some insulating power, ones that can go over warm-weather gloves are best.
The summit temperature can easily be as low as 40° even in the summer, and if a rain shower moves in even the long ridgeline at 10,000 - 11,000 feet can be cold. Temperature changes can be sudden when storm clouds move in for local weather, dropping 20° or more within an hour. These are real mountains— don’t be foolish— plan ahead for unfavorable conditions. A clothing cache near the locked gate / Barcroft is a good place for anything heavier.
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We started the Challenge on July 29, 2011 at 5:15 am from our campsite in Silver Canyon, descending about 1400' to the Owens River to begin our climb, and then finishing at our campsite, for a full round trip.
Start at Owens River
The route starts at the Owens River on Hwy 6 at elevation 4070', not far from the Laws Railroad museum. The pavement ends and the dirt road begins about 1/4 mile past the museum.
While this picture is bright, the light was still quite dim when it was taken; the alpenglow had just started on the Sierra Nevada seen in the background.