White Mountain Peak

Trailhead: 11,635'        High Point: 14,246'
Elevation Gain: ~3,100'
Distance: 15 Miles Round Trip
Maps: Mt. Barcroft, Juniper Mtn. and White Mtn. 7.5 Min Quads.
Trip Type: Day Hike

I have reached the summit at White three times. I found each trip to easier than the last. Why? Because I have redefined what it is to be in good shape and better hiking because of pharmaceuticals. I first visited White Mountain in 2000, after two days of acclimatization and still  got the mother of all cases of AMS after I reached the summit. In 2003, I had my best day of hiking over 14,000' ever until 2007 when going at my own normal pace and taking a ton of pictures  I reached the summit in just under 3 1/2 hours.

After the 2000 trip, I realized no matter what I did I could have an AMS episode, later that year I had another one at 7,500' while at June Lake. This is when I decided I would see my doctor about a prescription of Diamox and over the next 6 years I played..."let's figure out the correct dosing schedule".

Pictures for this trip

Directions: Just north of Big Pine head east on CA 168 to White Mountain Rd. where you head  north. About 8 miles north is Grandview Campgound, 4 miles further the paved road ends at Schulman Grove. The trailhead is 16 miles further on a dirt road which can be characterized good to fair and is best negotiated in a vehicle with high clearance and good tires, although a passenger car will get you there.

The Hike: This is a road hike...a very good road for the first supposedly two miles but after that it ain't so good. Although the sign says it is 2 miles to White Mountain Research Station to my mind it it closer to 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 miles because I can't hike at 3 miles per hour at this elevation without blowing out my energy stores, it took me 40 minutes to reach the station our last trip at my normal pace.  Leaving WMRS, you climb to the Observatory where the killer shot of White Mountain resides. Once you are done using up some megabytes, it is time to descend into "Marmot Valley"...if you don't see a marmot here you ain't looking hard enough. When you bottom out you are about halfway to White Mountain but most of the climb is still in front of you. As you climb out of Marmot Valley you think you make to the top of the hill a couple times before you actually do and when you do it is time give up some more elevation. This time on a really bad part of the road down to the base of White Mountain and you are still below 13,000'.

The trail switchbacks up the east side of White. The only issue is the snow field at at about ~14,000'. Early in the year you will have to cut up the talus slopes to avoid the snow, or into August while you hike after an El Nino winter. The payoff at White is the 200 mile view of the Sierra...just hope for a really clear day.

Comments: There are some things you should know before attempting this hike. This hike is totally above the treeline, therefore, you can't go into the forest to go potty, and it is a dry hike, so the water you take with you is all you are going to have for 15 miles. The trailhead is close to 12,000' so essentially you are starting at the equivalent to Trail Camp.

Because the White's sit in the shadow of the Sierra they do not get anywhere the amount of snow the Sierra gets, therefore, this hike can be done earlier in the season as tune up before doing Whitney later in the summer, we done this trip 7/22/00, 6/29/03 and 6/17/07 and the only snow we have seen was at the 14,100' level. We would highly recommend this if you have any questions about how you are going to perform up high.

This is an easy 14'er if you are used to hiking at these elevations, are in shape and know you AMS status.

Lastly, The Whites are beautiful in the spring, see our "winter" pictures of the Schulman Grove in the Ancient Bristlecone Forest. These images were taken in early May. We hiked a couple of miles from the closed gate at Sierra View. The best part about this trip is the solitude and not having to pay the fee at Schulman.

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Date of Last Change: 1/4/08