Porter Peak, Pleasant Point


By: Fred Camphausen


Barbara Reber needed to climb Sentinel again, but I didn't need it by way of backpacking up the road in Surprise Canyon. In the future I'll work on the Inyo County supervisors to get this road fixed, but there's no hope for funding until at least next year when the county's water dispute with LADWP is settled.) The eastern approach was an unknown in terms of whether it can still be done as a day hike (actually. whether the road still gets near to hungry Bills Ranch). I had thought that Happy Canyon might work out since I remembered that a good 4WD road once went in there.

On Friday. Ski and I camped Just north of Ballarat and watched the clouds laze around the Panamints, here and there leaving a little snow. Barbara's Toyota truck pulled in at sunset. We reloaded the Scout the next morning [or taking the three of us to Happy Canyon. There we found its narrow entrance washed out and passable now only by dirt bikes and ATVs. So we switched our goal to Porter Peak and drove south into Pleasant Canyon. After passing the two north forks which lead to the usual take-offs for this peak, we let 4WD take us up another 600 feet to the crest of the range. where we parked on a knob just north of Manly Lookout.

A Springtime morning coolness was in the air while we climbed under friendly clouds broken by clear blue sky. The route is fully within a forest of pinyon. We passed by the VABM 8270 microwave tower, which I had hoped would now be gone from the peak after I saw in 1984 that It was not in use. The tower is still there, but its antennas appear now to be back in operation. The ridge from here over to Porter is a little rough and everybody got in their rock climbing, bushwhacking. and scree groveling. A pleasant but un-speedy ascent brought us to our peak's traditional sign-in station. Air visibility was exceptional and we picked out points well into the state of Nevada.

Sunday, a day of rest, required that a light duty peak be climbed-a suitable pairing with Porter, which is a layback peak in its own right. On the drive down Pleasant Canyon it had been easily rationalized that we deserved (a) dinner, (b) sleep. (c) breakfast, and (d) a peak climb tomorrow requiring no supreme effort. Our choice of Pleasant Mtn [or (d) [tiled in answers for the previously ordered criteria.

The Sportsman Cafe, onetime resplendent darling of the Lone Pine cafe society following its purchase and overhaul some years ago. Is now well on its way back to its former dinginess, although the food is still ok. Sleep came easily after we parked at the edge of the quiet playa east of town. While waiting for a table at RJs we watched the main drag fill with cyclists warming up for the Death Valley to Mt Whitney bicycle race continuation.

Barbara's truck easily handled the climb up the canyon. Our midmorning start for Pleasant Mtn was from Mike's and Jodie's Cerro Gordo Mines parking lot. Spurning the higher trail, we passed by the old cemetery and held to the road circling below the new hilltop electronic site. Beyond the road a ridgeline trail was followed, but a leadership shortfall soon brought us onto a loose side-hill, and an upward route adjustment was then discussed and agreed upon. A prominent horn conceals the presence of the true summit just beyond, approached by a use trail closely following the ridge.

The sky was blue and the snowy Sierra mountains glistened, and Barbara called attention to the distant, still snow-draped eastern side of White Mtn. Our summit afforded also a view of a tiny portion of the playa at the "Racetrack" within Death Valley. This got us started with naming all known peaks and other features within view. The register was signed; Ski's first Inyo range peak.

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