It was another 3AM alarm on Monday morning for our climb of Boundary “Peak”, the Nevada high point, and it's major connecting summit, Montgomery Peak. We struggled out of bed to the sound of laughter coming from the campsite next to us. We were camped at Benton Hot Springs, Northeast of Bishop, and apparently a bit of a party place. My thought was to have a place to relax the legs in between our Mt. Whitney and Montgomery Peak climbs. Unfortunately, 105 degree water in 100 degree air temps isn't that relaxing, nor was the nearly constant sounds of laughter we heard throughout the night. I digress…
Rather than navigate an unknown road at 4AM, we decided to follow the directions we had from SP to the Trail Canyon Trailhead in Tamara’s Outback. The road was rough and covered with small, sharp (read tire cutting) rocks. It took a bit over an hour to cover the 15 miles to the TH. There, we met a guy fishing a small pond that gave us the beta on a better (smoother) road. Give me a shout if you’d like directions.
Using these new directions we were at the trailhead and on our feet at 5AM in shirt sleeves and shorts. With the balmy 60 degree temperature at 9000 feet, it looked like we would be in for a warm day. In short order we crossed into the Boundary Peak Wilderness following the trail through willows and thigh high sage brush. As we moved higher, the sage brush became shorter before eventually petering out. After the rocky main trail on Mt Whitney, our feet were loving this sandy trail. After 45 minutes, the sun peaked over the mountains and we were staring up at the ridge leading to Boundary “Peak”.
As the trail moved higher it changed from sand/dirt composition to decomposed granite and became noticeably steeper as we entered a large bowl. Though it was soft on the feet, the loose earth required extra effort to move higher. With our heads down, the trail became braided and we somehow missed the main trail leading to Trail Canyon saddle on our right. We didn’t really care, since it was pretty obvious where we were going.
We continued to move up the steep bowl until we could move over to our left to obtain the large granite rocks. Once we were off the loose decomposed granite and on to the rocks, the going became easier, though no less steep. Once we obtained the ridge to Boundary Peak at roughly 12,000 feet, we stopped for a little break to eat at 7:30AM.
From here it was an easy ridge walk up to Montgomery Peak’s false summit which is the Nevada State high point – Boundary “Peak,” at 13,140 feet. Though it is called a peak, it technically is not since it only has 253 feet of prominence. After signing the register we were off to Montgomery Peak, ¾ of a mile away, along a sweet looking ridge.
|Montgomery Peak from Boundary|
The cool thing about this ridge is we would be crossing from Nevada into California. We assumed that it would be the low point in the ridge and the map showed a mark, but we didn't find anything.
|Summit of Montgomery Peak|
On the ridge there were several gendarmes, some we went over and others we skirted. The rock on the south side was pretty solid, the north side-not so much. Though there wasn't much exposure, there was just enough to make the traverse a little exciting. After 45 minutes we were staring at a steep, fun looking summit block. We scampered up to the summit at 13,447 feet, four hours after we had started.
Once on top we admired the views of broken rock all around, signed the register and had a bite to eat.
|Can you guess what entry Dylan liked?|
We took a little detour on our way back. Rather than continue back on the ridge we dropped down 50 feet and sidehilled across the loose, decomposed granite to the ridge below Boundary. This route wasn't as fun but it was faster, and it was starting to heat up. Once back on Boundary’s ridge we found the main trail on the north ridge and followed it down to a small saddle (not Trail Canyon Saddle). From here it was easy plunge stepping with the occasional boot ski down the steep sandy trail.
We made it back to the car by 11:45 before it had gotten too hot.
Car to Car Time - 6:45
Elevation Gain – 4500 feet
Distance – 8 miles? (GPS quit)