While in the White Mountaons of California for photography, I put in some time on the mountain bike for the 2012 Trek to the Summit of White Mountain Peak, this year on my superlative Moots Mooto X YBB 29er.
From the Owens River near Bishop, CA at 4000' elevation to the 14,252' summit is quite a long haul, especially “fun” up the upper half of Silver Canyon, where grades hit 30% and average 17%.
Reader Allen Kost of Redding, CA was kind enough to send me snapshots that I could not take myself. I’ll be writing up my experience with many more photos and some video of descents, but these photos show the last part of the summit ascent. I rode 98% of the last 1400' pitch to the 14,232' summit— I felt very strong after acclimating for a week.
Pelting and stinging hail and a lightning bolt forced me down quickly, and by the meadow area at 12,800', 3/4" of hail made it look like an early winter storm (in August).
I was able to “clean” the entire route from the summit— no stopping, no foot dabs— stay loose on the bike and bounce over the rough stuff. Fast and fun and WAY better than walking down!
The summit is visible at upper right in this self portrait. The clouds are building, threatening precipitation very soon, even though it remains sunny for now.
The visible streaks are hailstones.
Hail began pounding down hard just as I arrived. I quickly donned my winter tights, Coppi wool cycling cap, Mountain Hardware 'Nitrous' down jacket, North Face Diad rain shell and IbexWear NZM winter gloves.
Scarfing some food, I took some video and some snapshots until a lightning bolt reminded me that descending might be a good idea.
For about 90 minutes, I did not realize that my helmet straps were not fastened!
By the time I descended from the summit, so much hail had fallen in ~20 minutes that 3/4" of the white stuff covered the ground, pellets perhaps 4mm in diameter. It added a tremendous drag which could be felt in pedaling.