Waucoba Mountain Trip Report
Date: September 28, 2003
Waucoba Mountain is number 20 on the California
Fifty Finest list of prominent mountains.
Edward Earl and I drove in his pickup Saturday afternoon, having left at noon
from my place. The original approach was blocked by a washout. Even though
the washout was located well beyond where we needed to go, the road was blocked
with rocks at its very beginning.
It would have been easy to displace the rocks and proceed. However we decided on
an alternative approach route that required backtracking just two miles prior to
driving south to the west side of the mountain.
After four miles the road entered a narrow canyon and worsened. Edward bailed
after descending some two hundred feet, barely finding the means to turn around.
He drove up to the canyon entrance while I walked there (I had gotten out to
direct his turn-around). He was justifiably worried that going farther might
mean the truck could not be driven back up - and there was no outlet besides
the way we had come.
We were off at 6:33 a.m. just before dawn. Nearly freezing temperature - this was
soon October at 8,300 feet elevation. We descended the roadbed and, after dropping
into Squaw Flat, continued on the road until a good place to head southeast
cross-country for the mountain.
The valley floor sloped upward to the base of a hill. Surmounting the hill, we reached
the 9,650 foot saddle between Squaw Peak to the north, and Waucoba Mountain to the south.
Apart from some minor ups-and-downs along with the occassional thick brush and boulders,
it was a matter of heading up the gradient to the summit.
We arrived at 11:46 a.m. over five hours from the carpark. Edward had underperformed,
with no explanation apart from the usual suspects of altitude (it was not that high);
dehydration; and lack of energy (it was not that long of an affair).
The entire Sierra Nevada Range was arrayed to our west. We could identify mountains from
Mount Tom on the north to Mt Whitney on the south. Whitney looked more impressive than
the view from route 395 near Lone Pine - we saw the mountain from an appropriate angle.
We signed into the register. Familiar names. I signed with the date as Rosh Hashanah of the
year 5,764 in the Jewish calendar.
Edward pointed out Saline Valley to the south. It might be the deepest valley
in America, and possibly in the world, using a measure known as inverse prominence.
White Mountain Peak was north, looking enormous despite the distance.
We departed at 12:40 p.m. and I returned to the vehicle at 4:06 p.m. The base of the
canyon is at 7,400 feet. Therefore the elevation gain on ascent was 11,123 - 7,400 = 3,700 feet.
The elevation gain on return was 8,290 - 7,400 = 900 feet. Adding 100 feet for the
minor bumps along the summit ridge (50 extra feet each-way), the total gain was 4,700 feet.
The Ben & Jerry's Making Whoppie ice cream pint was well earned in Big Pine.
It was an exceedingly rich chocolate with marshmallow cream and devils fudge cookies.
Edward has a rather large soft drink and, once in Ridgecrest, enjoyed a KFC dinner.
I had one chicken wing with BBQ and hot sauces, along with some wonderful salt and pepper
potato chips that we had munched on the way up.
Edward dropped me off at ten of midnight and I was asleep two hours later after putting
things away; checking e-mail; and needlessly eating supper.
Waucoba Mountain was Edward's fortieth peak on the Fifty Finest list. In fact, it was
the highest one on the list that he had not yet done - spot number twenty. Since he
already had numbers 21-24, getting Waucoba meant that he suddenly had the first twenty-four
peaks on this list of California's most prominent peaks.
For me, Waucoba Mountain was my thirty-second peak on the California Fifty Finest list.