Seen from Highway 395, this isolated pillar is it but a speck on the horizon. Up close however, 1 presents a worthy challenge. Positioned east of Independence, CA, along the crest of the Inyo Mountains at 8,369', this lonely stone sentinel beckons rock climbers and desert peakbaggers alike, to test their skills.
From Independence, CA, drive 4.5 miles (paved) to Kearsarge (site, see AAA "Eastern Sierra7 map). Continue straight for 3.5 miles on excellent dirt to a road junction on the right (gated). The gate was open during our visit. Drive 2 miles of fair-to-poor dirt up the road (very steep, exposed in the beginning) and park where an old (now closed) 4WD road heads north. Room for 3 or 4 cars; parking spot is at about 6,000'.
We hiked north up the closed 4WD road until the Monument was more or less due east. We then hiked east to the monument which is pretty straight forward except for the last 1/4 to 1/2 miles which was bouldery in places (not hand-in-pocket hiking). The Monument s unmistakable.
At first we tried to get a parachute cord over the top by tying a rock to the end and throwing it over, but our attempts were in vain . So, Rope-Gun Randall Danta led the pitch. It is about 70-75 feet, probably 5.4 - 5.5. There are two old 1/4" bolts to clip and a fixed stopper above the second bolt. Above the fixed stopper are larger holds, but the climb is "a little thin" between the bolts and stopper. On top there are a couple of good bolts for setting up a top anchor/rappel. We set up 2 ropes - one as a top rope, the other as a rappel. The weather was good, a little cold, but not bad. Across the Valley, the Sierra Crest got a little dusting while we didn't get as much as a drop of rain.
7-8 miles, RT; 2,500' gain, class 1-2 approach; 5th class summit "block".
Randall Danta, Doug Mantle, Tina Bowman, Don Sparks, Mary and Rayne Motheral, Dave Endres, Barbara and Dave Sholle and myself.