One hell of a "day hike", see my trip report for the full scoop. The summit was very nice and the view was spectacular even though it was a bit hazy off in the distance. A very memorable "first" 14er for us. Be prepared and enjoy!
Climbed solo over Thanksgiving weekend, 2000. An unusual peak and quite different than any of the other 14 thousand foot peaks just a few miles away in the Sierra proper. Needed 4 wheel drive to get to the gate that year in late November. Hiked past the research station and bivi'ed in the snow at 13K feet to test out my new 20 degree Feathered Friends lightweight down bag and bivi sack. Froze my ass off all night.
The next morning was spectacular once the sun came up and warmed the clear air. Saw a huge (herd or flock?) of Big Horn sheep on the road higher up on the mountain. They all approached me in what looked to be a battle formation until quite close. I could just see the headlines: "Hiker mauled by sheep gang in apparent retribution slaying."
Stayed on top for a long while and soaked up the sun and the beautiful views of the eastern Sierras'. Proceeded back down to Bishop with a sudden craving for lamb chops and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Was hoping for great views of Sierras, however, clouds got in the way
I agree with 2ndage, to make it a more comfortable hike, if time permits. Stay an extra night well below Barcroft gate. My wife thought that this mountain contained the most viscious marmots she'd seen. Ha! Maybe something to do with the lab.? This was the first time I've seen the Sierra from the east, at such an altitude, & was quite impressed.
Spent the night at Barcroft Gate to try to get acclimated. Mountain biked up to the final summit switchbacks and hiked up the last several hundred yards. Took 7 hours roundtrip since my climbing partners got a real bad case of altitude sickness. The weather and views were fantastic.
Perfect day for a hike. 74 degrees on the summit.
Generally easy trail to the summit. However, since access is so easy, many people experience altitude sickness. As a note to future CA 14er record challengers, I can think of two ways to shorten this hike: (1) Use mountain bike -- you can either ditch this at the base of summit, or I have heard of some people being able to bike all the way up. (2) Once a year, the locked gate is opened for an open house (for 2001 this date is 9/2/01), so you can drive up to Barcroft station, saving 4 miles round trip. see http://www.wmrs.edu/openhouse/Openhouse01.htm.
This was the eighth summit of my CA 14er speed climbing tour! Check out the trip report here.
Niether the distance or trail were a problem, but the altitude was a challenge for me eventhough I camped at Barcroft gate the night before. If you have the time and know that altitude is an issue for you, I recommend spending and extra day above 8000. It took me almost 5 hours to the top and less than 3 hours back.
Early morning jog to the summit. The rocks were a little icy from the previous evening's thunderstorms. Car-to-car time: 2 hours and 52 minutes
Jogged most of the "trail." Great views, but not too exciting.
No single part of the dirt road that goes up to the parking area is very bad, but the road is so long that it's bound to do some damage to most passenger cars.
I got a flat tire on the way down. I had a spare with me, but I didn't have a jack. So, I stuck rocks where the jack was supposed to go, dug underneath the flat tire with my ice axe until the car's weight was on the rocks, and then was able to change the tire. Good times.
A 4WD vehicle is a must to traverse the twenty or so miles of dirt road from Schulman Grove to the closed gate. My friend's Passat received a beating on that road - it's a wonder why they paved a few hundred yards in the middle near Patriach Grove and not the entire length?
Nonetheless, a great day hike. No shade whatsoever, wear sunblock, and bring lots of layers. It gets cold at the top and also in the shadows of the hills when the sun begins to set. Bring lots of water. I brought 70 oz. and a water bottle up and finished off the 70 oz. round trip.
Although some may say this is an easy trail to walk on, I disagree. The Whitney Trail is a sidewalk compared to this trail!
Since it is a dayhike, be prepared for the elevation and become acclimated before you climb. My four hours of camping at the Grandview campground didn't cut it. Take your time and you'll enjoy the hike a lot more.
Slept at Patriarch Grove of Ancient Bristlecone Pines for a great sunrise before hiking to the summit. Easy stroll to California's 3rd highest peak. I met and hiked with Richard Stevenson and his son Rich which made for some good conversation. We had the summit to ourselves for about 20 minutes before heading down.
A great day hike.