White Mountain Peak

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White Mountain Peak
White Mountain CA.JPG
White Mountain Peak from trail, June 2004
Highest point
Elevation 14,252 ft (4344.0 m) [1]
Prominence 7196 ft (2193 m) [2]
Parent peak Mount Whitney [3]
Isolation 67.4 mi (108.6 km) [2]
Coordinates 37°38′03″N118°15′20″W / 37.634094761°N 118.255655789°W / 37.634094761; -118.255655789 Coordinates: 37°38′03″N118°15′20″W / 37.634094761°N 118.255655789°W / 37.634094761; -118.255655789 [1]
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White Mountain Peak
Location in California
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White Mountain Peak
White Mountain Peak (the United States)
Location Mono County, California, U.S.
Parent range White Mountains
Topo map USGS White Mountain Peak
Mountain type Igneous Rock
Easiest route Road hike

White Mountain Peak (or simply White Mountain), at 14,252-foot (4344.0 m), is the highest peak in the White Mountains of California, 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. [4] White Mountain Peak is one of only two fourteeners (peaks above 14,000 feet) in California that are not in the Sierra Nevada, the other being Mount Shasta at the far northern end of the state in the Cascade Range. It is the only fourteener in the contiguous United States that is not in the Rocky Mountains, the Cascade Range, or the Sierra Nevada.

Research Station

The University of California operates the White Mountain Research Center, comprising three high altitude research stations, on the mountain: Crooked Creek Station at 10,200 feet (3,100 m), Barcroft Station at 12,470 feet (3,800 m), and a small hut at the summit. The effects of altitude on physiology are studied at the Barcroft Station and summit hut. [5]


Hikers resting at the summit hut on the 2018 open gate day. White Mountain Peak 2018 Open Gate Day.jpg
Hikers resting at the summit hut on the 2018 open gate day.

There is a winding dirt road leading to the summit station that is usually cleared of snow between late June and September. Access is restricted to hikers only by a locked gate about 2 miles before Barcroft station, but White Mountain Research Station usually opens this locked gate at 11,680 feet (3,560 m) once each year. Open gate days are typically held on a Sunday in the summer season. [6]

The round-trip hike from the gate to the summit is about 14 miles (23 km) with less than 2,600 feet (800 m) 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 (6 km) and 790 feet (240 m) of gain off the round trip. This route is popular with mountain bikers.

While the peak is arguably California's easiest fourteener via the jeep road, it features more strenuous climbs such as its western ridge, an 8,150-foot (2,500 m) 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. While the peak does not require technical climbing skills, it still poses a serious challenge to hikers because of the high altitude.


The summit and the weather station at 12,470 feet (3,800 m) has an alpine tundra climate (Köppen climate classification: ET). Winters are extremely severe, with the peak receiving upwards of 13 feet (400 cm) of snow annually.

Climate data for White Mountain, California (Station Elevation 12,470ft)
Record high °F (°C)47
Average high °F (°C)22.9
Daily mean °F (°C)15.2
Average low °F (°C)7.4
Record low °F (°C)−25
Average precipitation inches (mm)2.00
Average snowfall inches (cm)20.2
Source 1: The Western Regional Climate Center [7]
Source 2: https://wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliGCStT.pl?cawhit
White Mountain.jpg
Panorama from top of White Mountain looking to the east, south and west.

See also

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  2. 1 2 "White Mountain Peak, California". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  3. "Adobe Hills West". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  4. "USA Lower 48 Top 100 Peaks by Prominence". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  5. "White Mountain Research Center Summit Hut". White Mountain Research Center. University of California. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  6. "Community Outreach". White Mountain Research Center. University of California. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  7. "Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Information". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved April 9, 2013.