Ascent of Red Hill on 2018-11-13

Climber: Marcus Lostracco

Others in Party:Whiley Hall
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Red Hill
    Elevation:3952 ft / 1204 m

Ascent Trip Report

While driving North into Owens Valley on the US 395, Red Hill can be spotted from miles away, serving as somewhat of a homing beacon to the grand mountains lining either side of the valley. It stands prominently in the center with a striking and strong dark-red color. It reminds me of the type of cinder cones you would see in Hawaii. Pure ancient volcanic remains!

After a packed weekend in the Whites/Sierras/Inyos, on the return trip to LAX, Whiley and I found ourselves with some extra time on our hands. Driving past Red Hill without bagging it was not an option. From the US 395 South we turned left onto Cinder Road and made an immediate left onto an un-labeled dirt/gravel/volcano ash service road. Having just washed the car earlier that day in Lone Pine (a very labor-intensive endeavor after the weekend's activities), we decided we were able-bodied human beings, so we parked the car right there and make the rest of the approach on foot.

For footwear, I opted for the Shamma Warrior running sandals I was wearing and Whiley went with some stylish Sorrel boots. In the first place, we did not see the very obvious pale sand road that followed the power lines, so we trudged up a ravine of sorts. I quickly regretted my choice of footwear - it turns out having tiny lava rocks lodged between your feet is not very enjoyable! We navigated our way towards the base of the hill, aiming for the West ridge. Upon gaining the saddle near the center of the cinder cone's caldera, there is an old mining cart. In fact, the area is being heavily mined to the South of the peak - I wonder what they are mining here? I should have bought the Owens Valley Geology Guidebook I had seen the prior day at the Whitney Portal Store ($24.99) !

From the mining cart we continued our trudge up to the ridge, where we found some scattered footprints. These tracks eventually converged into a single use trail which follows the strong part of the ridge all the way to the summit. Some of this climb is very steep! There are areas on the ridge with some rocky outcrops, adding a rugged touch to the dramatic landscape. Some optional class 2 scrambling can be enjoyed here. Once on the ridge the summit comes up quickly. We found the old tin can and duct tape mason jar register - a small pencil and notepad with more entries than you'd expect! The true summit is actually about 30 feet past the register. Some excellent views of Owens Valley and its surroundings can be seen from the top. It was also interesting how the sound of the traffic from the US 395 seemed to disappear from this angle. Despite its mundane profile, there is a very satisfying feeling to be standing on top of this mound of red volcano ash.

The descent went quickly, and we were very careful on the steep parts to not begin to slide. Falling on your bottom at high speeds on volcano rock would not be a welcome mishap! We took the golden sand road back to the car, jogging most of the way along with some well-placed sprints to make sure the legs are sufficiently stretched before the long drive. A very interesting and enjoyable hike for a small and easy peak. Red Hill is a must for any peakbagger visiting the area.

Jumping in the car on the way back to LA area we snacked on chips and salsa - not the best in-car snack after having cleaned the interior all morning! Each successful bit was a minor victory. Baby wipes once again proving to be essential.

Song of the day: "Blueberry Hill" - Fats Domino

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
- C.S Lewis
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Red Hill rising majestically in the center of Owens Valley, California displaying its vivid colors (2018-11-13). Photo by Marcus Lostracco.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:628 ft / 191 m
    Extra Gain:27 ft / 8 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.8 mi / 4.5 km
    Route:West ridge
    Trailhead:3378 ft / 1029 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Moody scattered clouds and consistent wind on the ascent
Ascent Statistics
    Time:40 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Marcus Lostracco
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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