Ascent of Malpais Mesa High Point on 2014-01-04

Climber: Dan Baxter

Others in Party:Dennis Poulin
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, January 4, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Malpais Mesa High Point
    Elevation:7731 ft / 2356 m

Ascent Trip Report

Drive east from Owens Lake on highway 190. Before you reach the road summit at 5260' in the Talc City Hills turn left on what Benchmark Maps calls Saline Valley Road. Note there is a sign several miles further east which also states "Saline Valley Rd" (which is currently closed, BTW, secondary to last July's flooding). Benchmark calls that road "Saline Valley Alternate". There is no sign with a street name where you turn, but there is a stop sign and a "No snow Removal" sign. Go north 5.6 miles on this deteriorating paved road past the Talc City Hills, then turn left (NW) onto the dirt road to the Santa Rosa mines. There is a yellow sign there stating "Not a thru Road". Go 5.0 miles on this road and park in the large flat area at the mines. This road can be driven by an intrepid 2 WD car driver (and in fact is faster and easier that the potholed paved road already described). This is about 6550' in elevation.

Dennis Poulin and I went up the dirt road which collapsed onto the mine entrance near the parking spot, and headed WSW on it a little ways, then up the blunt ridge. Do not go this way. We ended up essentially on the knoll labeled ? "USC7164" on the topo (hard to read). So we had to drop DOWN a lot as we then headed NNW toward the summit.

What you want to do is look back (east) from where you parked, and you will see a road we did not initially appreciate, which is the dotted line 4WD road on the map, and go up it until just south of the saddle which on the topo is just N of the "4WD" label, and N of the mines. We came back this way and really appreciated it.

Go thru the saddle and then traverse WNW,cross the dry wash that at places looks like an old jeep road but isn't, and continue up until onto the plateau itself. Once on the plateau there is a tedious walk across the plateau NNW to the Wilderness Area highpoint, labeled Rosa on the topo, at 7731'. You can try to avoid the annoying loss of elevation both coming and going, but that's probably not worth it.

It took us 2 hrs 17 min to summit, and the round trip 4 hrs 10 minutes. But we went all over the place, including an attempt to go around the described knoll on our return (not knowing about the road up almost to the saddle) by going down the dry creek bed that looks lake an old road, only to discover a dry waterfall en route.

Great views of the Southern Sierra, including Olancha, Cirque, Langley, Muir, Whitney, Williamson and Tyndall Peaks. The Panamints with Telescope Peak loom to the SE.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1780 ft / 542 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1780 ft / 542 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.8 mi / 10.9 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1480 ft / 451 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1180 ft / 360 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Loss on way in:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:3.8 mi / 6.1 km
    Route:not good
    Start Trailhead:Santa Rosa Mines  6551 ft / 1996 m
    Time:2 Hours 17 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1480 ft / 451 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1180 ft / 360 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Gain on way out:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    End Trailhead:Santa Rosa Mines  6551 ft / 1996 m

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