White Mountain Peak 2006

Last year I tried for the summit of White Mountain Peak and was forced to turn back just shy of the summit due to a thunderstorm. However, at this year's open gate day the weather was much better and I managed to attain the summit of the easiest 14er in California.

white mountain peak sunny blue sky

Yes, it did take me almost seven hours for the round-trip, but part of that was because I tried mountain biking part of the way and that slowed things down a bit. I pushed the bike up the initial incline, coasted/rode down the ensuing loss of altitude, and then pushed it up the next incline. I left it just before the big dip before the switchbacks up the peak. Actually, I took the front wheel with me because I don't trust those Bishop folks. In a desperate bid to save as much weight as possible, I ended up leaving the wheel as well as my bike helmet beside one of the switchbacks. Staggering step by step ever upward, I eventually made it to the top around 12:30pm; I'd left the research station at 8:30am. I got back around 3:30pm. Did I mention that I have a foot injury that makes hiking painful and that that's one of the reasons why I took the bike? Now, do you feel all guilty for laughing at the time it took me?

There's a short video of the adventure here.

I took notes for those of you who are as obsessive about me as I am:

- I was barely sweating. I can sweat at 40 degrees, so I wasn't working that hard. Obviously, this isn't a strenuous hike and the only difficulty is the elevation.

- On the hike I had 2L Crystal Geyser water, 2L Langer's Ice Zone (a Gatorade-style drink), and about .75L of Welch's Orange Juice. I consumed about a liter of Shasta Diet Cola and a liter of water before starting. I was surprisingly clear and copious, twice on the hike and once when I got back. (I want you to know everything.)

- I didn't have a headache until somewhere up the switchbacks. Just shy of the summit I took a few bites of a Clif Bar and felt a little sick to my stomach. The nausea got even worse going down. While there's certainly the possibility that that was a sign of AMS, I discounted that due to other factors that I won't name. Before then in addition to the liquids notated above I'd had about half a pack of Snapple Jelly Beans and some peanuts. The Clif Bar was the first non-snacky food and I don't think it directly caused the stomach issues. Rather - perhaps unfairly - I blame it on the previous evening's meal, a Mountain High Teriyaki Beef. It didn't taste that bad, but it seems to have initiated something or something like that. My completely non-scientific thoughts are that it was actually a super-dehydrated meal which, once consumed, swelled to 100 times its dry size and resulted in the stomach issues.

- I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Grandview; on Saturday I drove up to the gate and walked up the road a bit, replaced a headlight, and basically just waited for something to happen for four hours.

- I filled up in Big Pine and I only used a half a tank of gas despite two trips up to the gate.

- Students from UCSD were conducting some kind of survey where they measured various acclimatization-related statistics at the station and at the summit. I eschewed the test at the station, and when I got to the summit I was told that I couldn't conduct the survey in reverse. They did tell me however that my oxygen level was 67%, meaning that I was still smarter than both George Bush and John Kerry at over 14,000 feet.

- Before leaving I noticed a crack in my bike helmet (gee, I wonder how long that's been there?) On past trips - never learning - I've lost a lot of time getting off the freeway on P Street in Palmdale or Lancaster for supplies. I stopped at the 99 Cents store there to buy some stuff, then went to a nearby Sports Chalet in the next mall over to buy a new helmet. Many minutes later, I was refunded for the helmet I bought which was too narrow. They did tell me about Blocks Bikes or something like that on 10th St. West, and I got a Specialized helmet that fits quite well. My old Trek helmet tightens using a knob that you turn; this new helmet uses something which I don't consider as secure: you push stops along a curved tang. In my never-ending quest to spend as much time as possible, I also stopped at Der Wienerschnitzel and I bought gas.

- In Bishop, I gassed up at the Paiute Casino for $3.02. For those outside California, that's unbelievable. I imagine that's due to them avoiding some kind of federal tax or something. I made it back to L.A. on not much more than $40 of gas.

- On the way back around Jawbone Station, I saw a crude bit of freeway-side samizdat: a sign reading "PAY OFF/SENATORS/BIG OIL". I thought it might be one of the anti-government type locals until I saw another one further on: "IMPEACH/THE IDIOT". At that I considered the strong possibility it was a Sierra Clubber-type who'd put them up on their way to take a nature hike. When I saw one reading "IMPEACH/THE IDOT" I was certain. And, no, I'm not kidding about the last one.


United States
August 7, 2006 – 10:10pm