Mount Patterson, Glass Mountain Ridge


By: Mike Manchester



The phone rang and it was George. "How about Patterson this weekend and maybe Glass? The prospect of two new peaks caused me no hesitation and I said "right". The desert car, Doug's motored mount, was out of commission. George's station wagon was not available until very late Friday and that is how the Gran Torino, my company car, went to Patterson and Glass.

We left Roxford at 5:00 P.M., ate dinner at Indian Wells and bought tire chains in Lone Pine due to reported road conditions above Bishop. The chains were not necessary.

We made a right turn off of U. S. 395, north of Bridgeport at the Swager Canyon Road. We drove up the road about three and one-half miles and turned left onto another dirt road. We followed this road to about elevation 8400. The road was covered by snow patches. It was 1:00 A.M. and we made camp.

It was mighty cold when we woke up at 8:00 A.M. George was taking his usual deliberate approach to getting ready. I decided to start the car, turn on the heater and get warm. The motor didn't start. Several attempts ran down the battery. A fish and game warden, on patrol in his four wheel drive, came to our rescue with jump cables. The warden did not readily accept our explanation for being where we were. When the Gran Torino was running, I naively asked him where we could locate him if we needed help later and his reply cut us all to the quick: "I'm not in the business of helping stranded motorists anymore than the Auto Club is in the business of enforcing the fish and game laws!"

It was 11:00 when we started for the peak. The climb involved unstable boulder fields and brush to about 10,000 feet. The rest of the climb was largely over snow and was straight forward. There was no register on the summit. The snow covered Sierra Crest, the Nevada ranges, the Whites and Glass Mountain all contributed to spectacular scenic views. Although roads crisscross this peak, our route seemed to meet no roads until near the summit. Some spectacular scenery, good weather, a near roadless route and 2,500 feet of elevation gain made this a good climb.

We returned to the car at dark and the car started right up. We were in business and ready to go. Instead of working off the day's soreness in Hot Creek, having a nice dinner in Mammoth and taking a leisurely trip home, we decided to have a quick dinner in Lee Vinning, take Highway 120 to the Sawmill Meadow Road and that road to the meadow. We got to within a mile of our objective before the snow got too deep for the Gran Torino. After George finished breakfast on Sunday, we took off for the peak. The views were again a spectacular, especially the Whites -- Bountary, Montgomery, the Jumpoff and yes, even Dubois (well, I saw Dubois!). The weather was cold, crisp and windy on both summits. Visibility was great. Very high storm fronts were passing down from the north and enhanced the scenic beauty.

Now back to awesome reality. We returned to the car and zounds! The car didn't start.

We decided to backpack to Highway 120 (8+ Miles) and then onto Benton (another 15 miles). It was decided to get some warm soup in our bodies, so I fired up the Svea in the back seat of the Gran Torino. Just as the water boiled, the stove tipped and boiling water scalded my right ankle. I put some snow on it, put on my boots and took off ahead of the others as I felt we had a better chance of getting help in the daylight. I did not relish the thought of leaving the Gran Torino on the Sawmill Mtn. Road for the winter.

Just as the light of day sank away, I reached Highway 120 and flagged down a jeep which carried a couple of men who worked in Bishop for the highway department. They went out of their away to be of assistance. On the way to my car we passed George and Doug. They continued on down the road to Highway 120 and I picked them up on the way out. We were very fortunate to meet these fellows who were so willing to help strangers in need. Thanks to them the Gran Torino got us back to Los Angeles at 4:00 A.M. Monday.

Today, nearly a year later, George's station wagon is still available only for late late departures, Doug's desert car has been replaced by a red BMW which prefers to sit on city streets and look beautiful and the Gran Torino lives on.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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