Mt. Bolton Brown is part of the jagged ridge stretching North from Split Mountain. It is not an easily recognizable peak when viewed from the East, being shrouded by nearby Tinemaha Peak and Birch Mountain, but the peak is worthy in its own right, with all of its approaches being relatively long and difficult.
Mt. Bolton Brown is most commonly climbed from one of three areas:
1) From Birch Lake, which involves a long traverse through steep snow or talus from the North. Technically, this is the easiest route, not exceeding class 2.
2) From Tinemaha Lake, which, after the cross-country ramble into Tinemaha Canyon, climbs up a steep snow chute, providing access to the plateau between Bolton Brown and Prater. Class 3.
3) From Split Mountain, as a traverse along the ridgeline North of Split Mountain. Class 3.
In addition, many possibilities for First Ascents still remain on the peak's sheer East Face.
Like the rest of the peaks in the Split Mountain vicinity, all three approaches mentioned above involve negotiating some part of the notorious 4WD road.
Basically, for each of the approaches outlined above, you need to get to their respective trailheads (Birch Lake, Tinemaha Canyon, or Red Lake).
From Big Pine on US395, head west on Glacier Lodge Rd, which heads to the Big Pine Creek Trailheads. Steve Eckert provides comprehensive directions to Birch Lake and Red Lake from here at: climber.org
To reach Tinemaha Canyon, look for the faint dirt road labeled "1983T" on the USGS topo map that branches off from the Red Lake road.
A second approach, which is considerably shorter, but not that much easier on 4WD (that is, if you can find the right turnoffs, which is a bit tricky), is via the Tinemaha Campground several miles south of Big Pine. Again, I found the directions in Climber.org
to be accurate. Actually, on my last trip to this region, I walked
the entire length of this road, which took me about 2 hours from the trailhead back to the 395. Why you ask? Its a long story for another day.
The route from Tinemaha Campground is very tricky to find, so go at your own risk.
Alternatively, I have also heard of people parking at McMurry meadows and walking to either the Birch Lake or Tinemaha Canyon trailheads - it does not add that much effort, and you can get to McMurry Meadows in a 2WD.
Everything you need to know about permits and regulations can be found on the Eastern Sierra - Logisitcal Center page
Basically, all backcountry camping requires a wilderness permit. Birch Lake and Red Lake have quotas from spring-fall, so depending on when you go, it may be difficult to get a permit, but Tinemaha Canyon has NO quota restrictions.
Depending on your approach, you can camp at either Birch Lake, Tinemaha Lake, or somewhere along the Red Lake trail. From my experience, good campsites along Tinemaha Lake on flat ground are almost non-existent. It is a bouldery, rock-strewn alpine lake. A snow camp early in the season seems to be favorable to climbing this route in the summer. Birch Lake, also seems to have few good campsites.
For trail conditions, try the rangers in Lone Pine or Bishop - see http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/conditions/south_report.html
Mt. Whitney Ranger Station
P.O. Box 8
Lone Pine, CA 93545
Open year-round, but only staffed spring through fall
Highway 395 at the south end of Lone Pine
White Mountain Ranger Station
798 North Main Street
Bishop, CA 93514
Open all year, Monday-Friday in winter
InterAgency Visitor Center--Lone Pine
Lone Pine, CA 93545
Intersection of Highway 395 and Highway 136
Open all year
See Experimental Gridpoint Forecast for Bishop
National Weather Service : Zone Forecast : Owens Valley And Adjacent Eastern Sierra Slopes, California .
Calif. Dept. of Water:
Snow Pack/>Current Snow Pack data for Owens Valley Drainages
"Bolton Coit Brown, professor of drawing and painting at Stanford University, 1891-1902. Brown, often accompanied by his wife, Lucy (for whom 'Lucys Foot Pass' is named), made several remarkable exploring and mountaineering trips in the Sierra Nevada between 1895 and 1899. He published half a dozen articles in the Sierra Club Bulletin, accompanying them with a number of superb line drawings.
The peak was named by Chester Versteeg and Rudolph Berls on Aug. 14, 1922, when they made the first ascent. '... the true summit was a knife-edge jutting twelve yards to the east. Alternating on one side and then the other of the knife, the last few steps along a narrow ledge on which two people could not have passed, we stopped, not on, but beside, the summit-rock. It stood less than shoulder-high above us. It was impossible to stand on this splinter. We patted it affectionately ...' (Chester Versteeg in SCB 11, no. 4, 1923: 426.)"
- Peter Browning, Place Names in the Sierra Nevada
"It would occupy more space than is appropriate here to give an account of all the exploring, climbing, and camping trips of the 1890's. Many of them are recorded in the Sierra Club Bulletin, and there were doubtless many others of which no record exists. A few, however, of special interest should be mentioned. Bolton Coit Brown, Professor of Drawing at Stanford University, not only made several notable ascents but added to knowledge of the high country at the head of the Kings and the Kings-Kern Divide by his descriptions, his maps, and his fine sketches. He made the first ascent, solo, of Mount Clarence King in 1896 and the same year joined J. N. LeConte in the first ascent of Mount Gardiner. Professor Brown and his wife Lucy [Lucy Pass on the Kings-Kern Divide is named after her] then crossed the Kings-Kern Divide and climbed Mount Williamson. A little later that summer they returned to the Divide and climbed and named Mount Ericsson, after which Brown ventured out on a northward-jutting knife edge to its highest point, where he built a monument and gave the name 'Mount Stanford.' In 1899 Professor and Mrs. Brown resumed their exploration of the headwaters of the Kings, this time with a third member in their party, their two-year-old daughter. 'We put her on a burro, and wither we went she went also.'"
- Francis Farquhar, History of the Sierra Nevada