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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.

Time required

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.

Gearing

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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Safety

We cached gear in four caches along the way.

Cache or carry (at the minimum):

  • Extra food and water;
  • Sunglasses.
  • 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.

Starting out

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.

We camped 1400' up in Silver Canyon, descending before dawn to the Owens River

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.

Start at the Owens River (elev ~4070') before dawn, even before the sun has hit the Sierra Nevada peaks
Your author with the two bikes ridden for the challenge: Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL and Trek Gary Fisher SuperFly 100 Elite
The Silver Canyon road begins to steepen just past the Laws Railroad Museum. Pavement ends about 1/4 mile past Laws.

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