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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.

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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