Inyo Face: Traverse from Pleasant Point to NY Butte and Back

Harlan W S
Aug 30, 2013

These two summits are on the DPS list.  We had thought of driving up the road from Cerro Gordo (on the Swansea Grade) to New York Butte, thence hiking over Keynot and Mount Inyo, down to a car spotted in Union Wash.  However, we didn't have a really burly vehicle, so I went up a day early to check the road conditions.

This ended up being a 10 hour hike, 26.25 miles round trip, 6500' accumulated elevation gain.  I started a little after 5AM, and finished a little after 3PM.  The road N from Cerro Gordo -- normally bad under the best of conditions -- turned out to be worse than normal.  On the really steep stretch from 7500' to 9100', the road had some deep gullies from a recent heavy rain.  I saw no fresh tire tracks until a lone, burly quad came up the hill at ~noon, traveling at a walking pace.

The route, on a 250k map. I started
at lower R, went up over Pleasant
Point (unnamed 9690'), went NW
to NY Butte, then came back, cutting
down the western slope to see the "crux"
part of the road.
My campsite; view N to the lower
end of Pleasant Point (not the summit).
I came across this hand-held radio;
it's the type the USFS and NPS
often use.  There had been a search
and rescue in the area, perhaps it
was dropped then.
View N to southern peak of
Pleasant Point, near 6AM. The
eastern sky begins to lighten. There
was little moon, so it was not a really
easy hike.
DSCN4118 DSCN4120
I climbed up on a knife edge, only
to realize that Pleasant Point was
farther N, and separated by some
cliffy drops.  This photo is overexposed;
it was actually quite dark.
DSCN4127 DSCN4128
The sun rises, and lights up the peak
to the S...
...and the cliffs to the N.
View W across the Owens Valley,
over Keeler.
View N. I will eventually go to the
peak at L in distance.
DSCN4135 DSCN4136
Two bighorns run off at R.
By starting early, I managed to stay in the
shade of hills most of the day, or
in the shade of trees along the route.
The salt tram. A century ago, salts were
hauled from the Saline Valley on the E side
of the Inyo Mountains, over to the
Owens Valley side (W).  Soon one drops
past the tram, down to 8500'.  The ups
downs on the ridge are many, and explain
why the accumulated gain comes in at
Salt Tram cabin.  Sierra in back,
View back down to Pleasant Point.
Boy that seems a long ways off.
View SSE to Burgess Mine cabin.
The Sierra Crest is in the back at L;
by now storm clouds were brewing.
Finally, near the top of NY Butte.  While
the W side is gentle (comparatively!)
the E side is rocky and wild.
View N from summit, across chasm.
View SE.
View N to Keynot.
DSCN4156 DSCN4159
DSCN4159_stitch DSCN4160 DSCN4161
DSCN4163 DSCN4168
Now I head back S toward Pleasant
Point. Thunderheads form.  Suddenly
my heels seemed quite sore, and I had
to stop for a major tape job on my feet.
View SW.
Uh-Oh more cloiuds. Actually I was
hoping for cloud cover... just not
Salt Tram cabin.
Pleasant Point to SW.  Still seems
far away.
About to drop 1600' to low point on road
No picture can capture the bad
condition of the road.
Next day, view as I drove W down the
Cerro Gordo Road to Keeler. The
August rains had even created some
washouts on this normally graded road.