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White Mountain

At: California, United States
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About: White Mountain, or White Mountain Peak, is the highest peak of the White Mountains of the US state of California. It is also the highest peak in Mono County and the third highest peak in the state, after Mount Whitney and Mount Williamson. It is the fourteenth most topographically prominent peak in the contiguous United States. Research Station The University of California operates the White Mountain Research Station, comprising three high altitude research stations, on the mountain: Crooked Creek Station at 10200 feet, Barcroft Station at 12470 feet, and a small summit station. These stations study the effects of altitude on animal physiology. Climbing There is a winding dirt road leading to the summit station that is usually cleared of snow between late June and November. Access is restricted by a locked gate about 2 miles before Barcroft station, but White Mountain Research Station usually opens this locked gate at 11680 feet twice each year. Open gate days are the first Sunday in August and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. The normal round trip hike from the gate is about 14 miles round trip with less than 2600 feet of vertical gain. However, there are two different dips in the trail of about 250 feet each, adding up to a total elevation gain during the roundtrip of over 3500 feet. The open gate shaves about 4 miles and 790 feet of gain off the round trip. This route is often ridden with mountain bikes and has even been negotiated on a unicycle. If the peak is California's easiest fourteener via the jeep road, it may be the most strenuous via its western ridge, an 8150 feet climb out of Owens Valley via a steep ridge from the end of a rough road. The peak is rarely approached from the north where it is guarded by a narrow arête or knife-edge ridge. A better nontechnical alternative to the jeep road would be to drive as far as possible up Leidy Canyon from Fish Lake Valley, then take a graded cattle trail up the broad ridge to Perry Aiken Flat. From the flats it is an easy traverse south into the cirque of the North Fork, North Branch of Perry Aiken Creek. A moderate scramble up the ridge between the North Branch and the larger cirque of the main North Fork leads to the easier upper slopes of the peak.


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