Telescope Peak, Sentinel Peak


By: Dale Van Dalsem



We met at Ballarat at 5 A.M. & drove three vehicles up Surprise Canyon to Chris Wicht Camp & drove one back, then drove our other two vehicles to Mahogany Flat & started hiking by 7 A.M. Gorgeous hike up the trail to Telescope; two slow people signed out shortly thereafter as we backpacked south on the trailless ridge. About a mile S of Telescope Bill Woods put his left foot in a crack between two rocks; he then stepped on a loose rock with his right foot. It rolled; Bill fell and wrenched his left leg badly. It appeared to be a sprain; Bill and Chris Peers turned back towards Mahogany Flats. That left 6 of us: Dale Van D., Karen Leonard, Jim Murphy, Robert Tomlinson, Karl Kraves, & Lars Nielsen.

From Peak 10459 to Panamint City we could have gone west to the obvious saddle, then followed Water Canyon down. Or, we could have hiked S to Panamint Pass & taken the old trail down Frenchmans Canyon. We headed directly SSW toward Water Canyon, came to a dropoff (No rope!) & went back up & then right. We found a downclimb with a 5.2 stemming move to descend it, handed packs down & somehow, everyone made it. Water Canyon is a nightmare of fallen trees & brush that slowed us to a crawl as we stumbled down by flashlight. At 8 P.M. we finally reached an old road, water and an old house - Thompson Camp - after a grueling 13 hour hike. We cooked & crashed.

Sunday we packed up & walked the few hundred yards down to Panamint City, dropped our packs and 5 of us hiked Sentinel Peak. We started up the road just behind the big brick smokestack & scrambled up to find the road to Wyoming Mine & followed the ridge to the peak. Should have gone up Magazine Canyon, which leaves the main canyon a couple of hundred yards east of the brick stack. We explored a fully equipped and open house near the hanger. We could have slept in beds Sat night. The hike out to Chris Wicht Camp seemed endless as most of us were pooped from the day before. We met Steve Smith & two other BLM folks hiking in for a traverse to one of the other canyons. Sunday was a 10-hour day, following a 13 hr day. The good news was that both vehicles had been moved from Mahogany Flat to Chris Wicht Camp, 1 by the two people who signed out after Telescope and one by Bill & Chris. Next time, we'll hike Mahogany Flat to Sentinel Pk & down for an easy day out to C.W. Camp. Or bag both Sentinel & Porter from Hungry Bill's Ranch in Johnson Canyon to the east. A neat trip would be a 2-group trip, one group from C.W. Camp to Hungry Bills; one group from Bill's to C.W., exchanging car keys & both groups joining for Sat night campfire.

Epilog: Bill Woods & Chis Peers bivouacked Sat night on the Telescope Peak Trail, as Bill was in considerable pain & Chris was unable to carry all of Bill's pack plus his own. X-rays back in Kaiser Fontana Sunday night revealed a broken fibula. Bill was in a full leg cast for 5 days, then returned to work the next Monday with a walking cast & crutches.

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