OverviewDisaster Peak a grey colored, and at first sight, unimpressive looking pile of rocks located in the Carson - Iceberg Wilderness. There are several taller and more impressive looking peaks in the area. The challenge for Disaster Peak is not necessarily the summit climb, but actually getting there. The climbers trail is faint and easy to lose, so one often needs to rely on cross country travel. The summit “block” is composed of piled rock and boulders, some a bit loose. Below the rock pile the the slope is covered by loose soil and scrub. In the spring and early summer the snow melt and related springs create some muddy / boggy areas. From Diasater peak one can see Highland Peak to the north, Stanislaus Peak, Leavitt Peak and the Emigrant Wilderness to the south, and the top of the Dardanelle Cones to the west.
Getting ThereApproximately 45 miles east of Sonora and 18.7 miles east of the Pinecrest Forest Service office on CA state Route 108 is Clark Fork Road. A left onto this road and 8.5 miles later you are at the Disaster Creek trail head. There will be a sign saying road ends 500 ft. There is a different trail head at the end of the road. The Disaster Creek trail heads up hill through some switch backs and passes below a rock formation known as the Iceberg from which the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness derives its name. The trail parallels Disaster Creek. After about 2.5 miles you will find yourself in a meadow known as Adam’s Camp. Near the north end of the meadow there is a faint climbers trail on the right side of the trail angling off to the northeast. This trail soon curves back to the south and southeast. climbing up through forested hillsides. Near a little rock out crop the trail turns east and contours along a hill side. Soon the peak itself comes into view and there seems to be no more trail. At this point you can pick your route up the mountain. The easiest route I found was to angle up to the south ridge and summit along it.
Red TapeThere are no permits required for day hiking in the Carson - Iceberg Wilderness or for parking at the trailhead. If one is camping, a Wilderness Permit is needed. An online permit form for a Wilderness Permit is a available. Permits can also be obtained from any Stanislaus National Forest Ranger Office including the Mi Wok and Summit located along the way on CA State Route 108. Only one permit is needed for continuous trips passing through more than one wilderness area. If you plan on using a stove, even if on a day hike, a fire permit is required and can be picked up at any U.S. Forest Service office.The fire permit is good for the entire state of California.
When To ClimbThe best time to climb is June (if the snow is not too deep and trails not too muddy) through October . State Route 108 is closed 15 miles west of Strawberry from the first significant snowfall in the fall to a spring opening. The last weekend of April is the usual target date for opening the road to Kennedy Meadows and the Clark Fork Road to coincide with the opening of trout season. Some years it is earlier and some years later.
CampingCamping is allowed in the Carson - Iceberg Wilderness with the proper permit. Use a bear proof canister in the back country. There are three National Forest Campgrounds along the Clark Fork Road. They are all first come, first served and fill up quickly on summer weekends.There are many other Forest Service Campgrounds along State Route 108 within a few miles of the Clark Fork Road junction.
Mountain ConditionsState Route 108 road conditions can be found online or by phoning the California Department of Transportation road condition line at 1-800-427-7623. General area conditions can be found by phoning the Stanislaus National Forest Summit Ranger Station at Pinecrest at (209) 965-3434.
Etymology"September 6, 1877: 'We had finished a very successful day's work, and were completing our labors by putting up the usual monument. ... Mr. Cowles [the topographer] loosened a heavy mass, which, slipping from its bearings, precipitated him some 15 feet upon the jagged rocks below, passing over his legs as it rolled on. Mr. Vail and myself, on hastening to his assistance, were inexpressibly shocked to find that both legs had been broken.' (Lt. M. M. Macomb, Wheeler Survey, Report, 1878, 143.) Macomb named the peak; the creek name was added, probably by the USGS, with publication of the Dardanelles 30' map in 1898."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada