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Ascent of Mount Tom on 1992-10-13

Climber: Richard Carey

Date:Tuesday, October 13, 1992
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Tom
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:13652 ft / 4161 m

Ascent Trip Report

The mountain is named for Thomas Clark an early resident of the now vanished town of Owensville. He is credited with the first ascent in the 1860's. (Browning, p. 218) Two notes on the mountain by Norman Clyde appear in the Sierra Club Bulletin Vol. 12, 1927, p. 420 and in Vol. 17, 1932, p. 120.

The mountain is in the John Muir Wilderness area which is administered by the Inyo National Forest, White Mountain Ranger District. A wilderness permit is required for overnight trips, contact the Forest Service at 873 North Main St., Bishop, Ca. 93514. (760) 873-5841

The easiest route on Mount Tom is by hiking the road to Horton Lakes from the locked gate east of the wilderness boundary on the south side of the mountain. The trailhead is in an area known as Buttermilk Country and is easily found on the Auto Club map referenced above. After about three miles on the road there are some cabins by the lake. Continue on the road which, through a series of switchbacks, reaches a ridge at about 11,500 ft. and the Hanging Valley mining area. From here one can ascend the rocky ridge to the NE to the summit. In "The High Sierra" by R. J. Secor this route is rated class 1, but I would rate it class 2. There is a good description of how to reach the Horton Lake trailhead via the Buttermilk Road in Secor's book on page 241. The last mile or so to the locked gate is 4WD. The peak is usually done as a backpack to Horton Lake, however strong hikers can make it in one long day. Allow 4 to 6 hrs. for the ascent depending on your acclimitization and 3 hrs. for the descent. The elevation gain from the locked gate is about 5,600 ft. 10/92 RLC
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