ApproachThe major highway, near the start of the climb, is U.S. 6, which runs in an east/west direction (I say "major," however, it is a very nice, and straight, 2-lane highway). The closest town, to the start of the climb, is Benton, California, which is located approximately 15 miles from the trailhead.
If coming from the west, gain U.S. Hwy. 6 either by coming north from Bishop, California (on Hwy. 6), or via Hwy. 120, which diverges from U.S. Hwy. 395 near Lee Vining, California (Hwy. 120 ends at U.S. Hwy. 6 in the middle of Benton, California).
From Benton, California, drive approximately 9 miles east on U.S. Hwy. 6, of which you will cross the California/Nevada state line. At approximately the 9 mile mark, look for a well-established dirt road turning perpendicular to the right/south; the road turns right/south directly across from the now abandoned "Janie's Ranch," which has an old fuel tank sitting near the road with the initials "JR" painted on it.
If you are coming from the east, you would either already be on U.S. Hwy. 6 (coming from near the Tonopah, Nevada area), or if coming from the north, would attain U.S. Hwy. 6 at either the U.S. 95/U.S. 6 junction (Coaldale Junction) or the alternate U.S. 6/Hwy. 360 junction.
Once you have turned right/south (or left/south, if coming from the east) off of U.S. Hwy. 6, set your odometer because you will need to watch it rather closely. You want to travel a distance of approximately 6.2 miles along the main dirt road; I say "main" dirt road because there are some side roads off of the main dirt road, which you do not want to take. Following, and recognizing, the main dirt road is not a real problem, however.
Along the 6.2 mile stretch of dirt road, you will notice that there are several "natural speed bumps" that you must drive over. The natural speed bumps I am referring to are nothing more than large dirt humps in the road. I had no problem whatsoever driving my 2-wheel drive pick-up truck over them, and would highly doubt that a regular passenger car would either.
In addition, you will notice that the vegetation tends to close in on you once you have driven quite a distance along the dirt road. Don't let this worry you; it does not reach the point where your vehicle will become engulfed in the foliage.
Once you have traveled along the main dirt road for about 3-4 miles or so, the road will start to climb rather steeply. Again, I had no trouble in a 2-wheel drive pick-up. At this point, you are getting fairly close to the trailhead, and can actually see it from here.
Continue along the dirt road to a large, flat area (+/- 9,200' above sea level). You will recognize this flat area because there will be an abandoned mine entrance (Queen Mine) on the east side of the flat area (on your left as you are driving up). Also, there are old rail tracks coming out of the mine, which will help you further recognize that this is the place you want to be. When I was there, there were a lot of steel stakes, with wire mesh around them, sticking out of the ground on the west side of the large, flat area (on your right, as you're coming up). What they are for, I have no clue; didn't take the time to examine them either, since I was in a hurry to get up the mountain.
Nevertheless, this large, flat area is where you'll want to park (unless you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle). If you have a 4-wheel drive, you could probably continue along the dirt road to the saddle, some 500 feet above (+/- 9,700' above sea level). However, the dirt road becomes much more rocky and steeper past the large, flat area. I tried to drive further in my 2-wheel drive pick-up, but could not make it due to the steepness of the grade. So, whether you decide to park at the large, flat area (Queen Mine entrance), or decide to 4-wheel it to the saddle above, the driving approach will end here (if you 4-wheel it, just eliminate the road walking, which I describe at the beginning of the route description below).
Route DescriptionThe route, for most people, will start at the large, flat area (Queen Mine), which I mention above and where most of you will want to park your vehicle. Therefore, you will have a little bit of "dirt road" walking to do (approximately 1-1.25 miles of it).
Leave your vehicle and start hiking up the dirt road. Right after you have started, you will pass two, open mine entrance shafts on the left/south side of the road. I am no authority, but I do not condone the exploration of such mine entrances, simply for the fact of safety and not knowing the level of danger involved with performing such activities. If you decide to explore the shafts, you do so at your own risk.
The dirt road zig-zags a few times, over the course of a mile or so, then ends at a large saddle, which is where the "real" trail starts. Look for a faint use-trail on the south side of the saddle, and start hiking up it. You may actually notice more than one use-trail in the vicinity, however, a "main" trail should be fairly obvious (don't worry that you're not on the correct path, most of them should take you in the general direction you want to go anyway, which is UP).
You continue to climb the head of the ridge, which is rather steep in spots, until you gain the top and start to level out (a little under +/- 11,000' above sea level). From this point, you get your first grand view of the Boundary Peak massif. I'm here to tell you as well; it is a rather intimidating sight! You will now follow a fairly well established use-trail for the length of the ridge, heading pretty much level and in a southwesterly direction. Your travel along this ridge will be just below the crest, which is above you and to the right/north; and you will be high above Trail Canyon, which is to your left/south. The next destination you are trying to reach is called "Trail Canyon Saddle," and is visible in front of you (it is the large saddle between the end of the ridge you're now on and the intimidating wall of rock that you will soon be climbing!).
Once you have made it along the semi-level ridge to the Trail Canyon Saddle, take a break at the jumble of rocks/stumps that is located in the middle of the saddle (trust me, if you're in the right place, you cannot miss the jumble of rocks/stumps; they're the only ones around and are located pretty much right in the middle of the grassy area).
It is at this location that the Queen Mine Route joins with the normal Trail Canyon Route, and becomes one in the same. Although, I will continue to give my account of how the route continues from here as well.
From the Trail Canyon Saddle, head south and start climbing the loose rock/scree slope, which seems as though it is "straight-up." While climbing this slope, you can periodically look upward and see the top of a peak above you. I'll go ahead and say it right now; even though, at this point, you may very much wish/hope that the peak above you is the top of Boundary Peak, It is definitely not the top of Boundary Peak! You have a lot of scrambling to do before you reach the very top, and what you see above you, at this point, could probably only pass as the "half-way mark" of the scrambling.
I have seen other data that suggested to climb the slope to the top of the satellite peak that you can see above you. However, I do not suggest this. After you have ascended a couple hundred feet or so, look to your right and you'll notice a smaller horn, with a small saddle, on the ridge to your right/west. Better than climbing to the top of the satelite peak above you, gradually make your way across the scree slope (west) toward the small horn and saddle.
When you have gained the small saddle/horn, you will now have a fine view of what's left to come! The entire north face of Boundary Peak will be displayed before you, and you'll easily be able to see the northeastern ridge, of which you will continue your ascent.
Therefore, leave the small saddle/horn and continue south along the ridge until it starts to climb steeply, and you reach fairly solid third class rock. You will see paths going in several directions from here, but most really go in only two different directions: To either side of the third class rock. On my ascent, I took the left/east side approach, however, when I descended, I came from the right/west side approach. I personally felt that the right/west side was slightly easier (you be your own judge of that).
Nevertheless, your main objective is to continue to climb the small remainder of the ridge, which will end quite shortly at the summit of Boundary Peak. Once you're at the top of the ridge, and it levels off, walk west +/- 100 feet or so, and you will see the summit register box nestled in some rocks. When I was there, someone had placed an American flag next to the register, in remembrance of September 11, 2001.
Further to the south, you will see Montgomery Peak towering some +/- 250 feet above. I have read data that suggests the ridge from Boundary Peak summit to Montgomery Peak summit is +/- 1 mile long and +/- an additional 2 hour scramble. I cannot vouch for this from experience, mainly due to the fact that it was dark when I made the summit of Boundary Peak, and I didn't really have much desire to traverse the ridge to Montgomery Peak in the darkness.
In any event, you have made the summit of Boundary Peak via the Queen Mine Route! To return to your vehicle, simply reverse your steps. Also, as you might imagine, descending the +/- 2,200' of loose rock/scree, from the summit back to Trail Canyon Saddle, will be the hardest part of the descent. Just remember this, however, "it will have been well worth it!!!"
Essential GearFor starters, make certain you have a good pair of boots to do this climb. I would not suggest wearing tennis shoes! In addition, I highly recommend that you wear gaiters for the entire trip; the amount of loose scree/rock along the route definitely warrants this.
Though a lot of folks either don't know about using them, or don't want to use them, trekking poles (two of them; one for each hand) will make a big difference for you on the descent, regarding balance, knee protection, etc.
Depending on season (e.g., snow conditions), you may/may not need an ice axe and/or crampons. Be certain to check local weather forecasts, and local informational sources on whether or not they may be of need, for when you're planning to go. Same thing goes for cold weather conditions, choose what clothing to take accordingly.
I would highly doubt that a rope would be needed, especially in the summer-type season (June thru October). Even in winter conditions, ice axe and crampons are probably all that would be needed, however, it probably wouldn't hurt to have a rope in your pack, just in case.
Finally, always carry the recommended "10 essentials" with you, no matter where you go!
Miscellaneous InfoIf you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.
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