OverviewDeath Valley National Park, on the south side of Hwy 190, and is in the Panamint Range. Pinto Peak is ranked number 129 on the list of prominence peaks in California with a prominence of 2,190 ft. Telescope Peak is located about 17 miles southeast of Pinto Peak.
There is lots of great information about Death Valley Area, the Panamint Range, and Calif. Desert Peaks on other pages in Summit Post. It would be a duplication of efforts to repeat all that information here.
The route I choose to climb Pinto Peak is from Emigrant Pass on Wildrose Canyon Road. This route is not technical. The primary danger is the weather with heat and lightning in the summer and the occasional snow storm and high winds in the winter. There are other routes to the summit of Pinto Peak. It is often climbed from the north from Towne Pass. The Towne Pass route is considerably shorter but it is rougher with no trail. Some route finding is required to climb from the north.
Getting ThereEmigrant Pass that is located between Hwy 190 in Death Valley and Hwy 178 in Panamint Valley. This is the same road to access the normal trailhead for Telescope Peak. Elevation of Emigrant Pass is 5,318 ft and there it is signed on Wildrose Canyon Road. The occasional winter snow storm will dump several inches of snow at this elevation.
If you are approaching Pinto Peak from the west on Hwy 190 or Hwy 178, you will be in the National Park but you won’t have to pay the $20 (as of 2008) entry fee to enter the National Park. The first pay station is located east of here in Stovepipe Wells.
There is room to pull off the road at Emigrant Pass for a few cars on both sides of the road. I car camped at Emigrant Pass before my climb and no one hassled me.
Red TapeDeath Valley National Park . Check with the park headquarters if you have any questions.
CampingCamping in Death Valley is a list of Death Valley National Park provided campgrounds.
More info on Commercial Death Valley activities
I car camped at the Emigrant Pass trailhead without any problem.
There are many places along the route where you could backpack camp including the summit. There is no water available along the route from Emigrant Pass.
When to ClimbWeather. After a snow storm, the snow will add to the difficulty of the hike. In the summer the heat can kill you. It is best to climb the peak in the winter when it isn’t unbearably hot.
Mountain ConditionsThis is a link to more Death Valley weather info.
From the main Home page Death Valley National Park the Morning Report has good info on weather and roads.