White Mountain Peak, Mount Dubois, Montgomery Peak, Boundary Peak
By: Steve Smith
WHITE MOUNTAINS TRAVERSE
Campy and I scheduled five days for a traverse from south to north across the crest of the White Mountains. We estimated the hiking distance from the locked gate at Barcroft Lab to roads end in Queen Canyon on the north end at about 38 miles. From several write ups, we also knew that a half mile section immediately north of White Mountain would be the most difficult with a second stretch between Mt. Dubois and Mt. Montgomery requiring some scree climbing. On Wednesday afternoon, John Otter assisted us in stationing two vehicles at the top of Queen Canyon at the north and of the range and about eight miles south of U.S. highway 6. For the preceding week, a series of storms continued to pass through the area with snow collecting along the crest of the White Mountains. Everyone was advised to bring gear for possible winter conditions and that was what we experienced.
Debbie and I had scheduled this trip for the end of June as a conditioner for climbing Mt. Rainier later in July. The conditions we encountered on this trip were certainly the perfect warm up for climbing Mt. Rainier. In fact the cold, snow storms, and bad visibility we encountered turned out to be worse than what we experienced while climbing Mt. Rainier two weeks later. It was also a good conditioner for John who wee getting ready for a 120 mile five day backpack marathon event in the Sawtooth wilderness of Idaho.
We bad a total of eight people at the Barcroft Road locked gate mid-day on Thursday. Under bad weather conditions, Campy, John Otter, Debbie Smith, Rick Jali, Jim Smith, Judy Oar, Dave Mason and I headed up the road in the early afternoon. Visibility was poor in falling snow, with cold and windy conditions as we made our first stop at the Barcroft lab Quonset building. As usual, the researchers were interested in talking to visitors and let us warm up and provided all the hot water we wanted as we had a late lunch. Heading out in mid afternoon, the conditions got worse and fighting the wind and drifting snow made the going slow. We made it to the base of White Mountain at about 12,900' and decided to make an early camp and see what the weather was doing the next day. Next morning was clearer but heavy clouds still persisted along the crest and snow drifts wade even hiking along the road difficult. Four people decided to head beck while Debbie, John, Dive and I opted to go on up White Mountain and then decide about conditions for going farther north. From the summit of White Mountain, visibility was poor but we decided to follow the crest north for as far as we could go. Dave was familiar with several of the canyons leading down the east side of the crest into Nevada so we figured we would go as far as possible and then drop down into Nevada if necessary.
Under ideal conditions, the first mile of crestline north from White Mountain would not be too difficult. Under bad conditions with full packs, it was more challenging but by Friday evening, we were across the half mile of rocky section and about two miles onto the open crest which characterizes most of the remaining distance until the far north end of the range. Everyone was in their tents early is the snow continued and it was plenty cold. Saturday morning everything was frozen solid and weather conditions were worse. Following the crest was difficult with limited visibility but we made better time in the open terrain. By mid day, we to the first named peak - Headley at 12,234' and a higher unnamed point to the east. Both had registers showing about 10 people during the last 10 years. At that point, we dropped down to Chatovick Meadow which at 11,100' was the low point on the traverse. V very pretty area where Cabin creek leads down to the east into Fish Lake Valley and Birch Creek leads down to the west into Chalfant Valley. By noon we had lunch and dense clouds covered the crest to be north. We decided to head down to highway 266 in Nevada. Going another mile north, we reached the head of Indian Creak Canyon and could see a dirt goad about 3,000' below us. By early evening we reached the road and hiked along it for five miles before making camp where a good running stream crossed the road.
Next day we hiked another seven miles of road and reached the Fish Lake Valley highway. Campy drove over and picked us up. Dave drove us up to Queen Canyon to retrieve our two vehicles and then everyone beaded for hone. It was a good effort going across the southern half of the range under winter conditions. The access to the crest from the Indian Creek roadhead is direct and is used by ranchers for cattle to teach Chetovich Flats. Several of us plan on going back in at that point next summer to regain the crest at Mt. Vogue and finish following the northern half of the crest north to the roadhead in Queen Canyon. Steve about 10 people during the last 10 years. At that point, we dropped down to Chatovich meadow which at ll,800' was the low point on the traverse. A very pretty area where Cabin Creek leads down to the east into fish Lake Valley and Birch Creek leads down to the west into Chalfant Valley. By noon we had lunch and dense cloud's covered the crest to the north. We decided to head down to highway 266 in Nevada. Going another mile north, we reached the head of Indian Creek Canyon and could see a dirt joad about 3,000' below us. By early evening we reached the road and hiked along it for five miles before making camp where a good running stress crossed the road.
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