Hiking Stats as of 11/14/2019
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Jun 28, 2014 - Disaster Peak / Arnot Peak


Partners: Jerry Kohn

Distance: 14.13 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,506 feet

Trip Time: 8:14

Maps and Stats:
I hadn't been able to get to the Sierra for over a month, instead going to Monterey one weekend, and spending other days chasing local CC peaks and peaks that work brought me an opportunity to climb. Then last weekend my mom came to visit (I'm not complaining!) so hiking was not on the agenda during her visit. Things would get back to normal now, however, as my hiking buddy Jerry and I had talked about doing something, as he was anxious to hit the trail after a vacation in Hawaii. We have sort of an informal list of peaks we are both interested in doing, and from this list I suggested Disaster Peak as a good target.

Disaster Peak is a too far south to be on the OGUL list, but is a WSC and SPS peak, and is only open for climbing in the summer as Highway 108 is not plowed in winter. There's nothing technically too difficult about Disaster Peak, but in researching the hike it seemed that route finding might be a bit of a problem. I mapped out a route ahead of time, and in perusing the map I noted Arnot Peak, which stands 7 feet taller (but is not on any peak lists) a couple of miles beyond Disaster and as such planned for a double peak day, if I wasn't too tired after getting to the top of Disaster. I shared these tentative plans with Jerry, who indicated he probably would pass on Arnot. Disaster Peak would be WSC summit number 25 and SPS summit number 19.

With the potential for us going separate ways while on the hike we agreed to drive separately and meet at the TH at 10 AM. The road to the trailhead was in fantastic shape, paved the entire way as it runs about 8 miles northest from Highway 108. It was quite warm at the start, quite a difference from my last visit up to the Sierra and a reminder that summer was upon us. The first 1.75 miles or so were moderately graded, gaining roughly 600 feet per mile on a very well defined trail. The trail passes underneath "The Iceberg", a feature that didn't seem quite impressive enough to be the namesake for the Carson Iceberg Wilderness that we were now in.

This is a fantastic time of year to visit the area, as everything is in bloom and the grasses and hillsides are a wonderful lush green. After about 2.25 miles Jerry noticed a duck identifying what turned out to be a bit of a shortcut to the climbers trail heading up towards Disaster Peak. This was the part of the hike that had us a bit worried, as online reports sounded like any trail would be faint and thus hard to follow. We headed up much more steeply now, although we didn't really have much trouble sticking to the trail. It was fairly steep, but again probably not as bad as advertised. By 12:15 we had our first views of the peak itself, and my research had indicated that we should head to the right of the peak towards a saddle, then turn left on the ridge to the summit. It was shortly after seeing the peak that we lost the trail in fields of of Mules Ears and wildflowers. At this point Jerry decided to take a more direct route to the peak, heading up what would become an extremely steep slope while I continued on my circular route, aiming for the saddle. This would be the last time we would see each other for an hour.

My route was more difficult than I had anticipated, heading up a steep, sandy slope. I was getting quite tired, needing to rest for a minute after every 50-75 feet of elevation gain. By 1:15 I finally topped out on the saddle, from where it was an easy 10 minutes to the summit. The summit blocks are quite fun, probably more class 2 than class 3 although I wouldn't argue with either classification. I'd call it class 2/3 I guess, and it was fun. I topped out on the summit at 1:20, an even 3 hours of climbing to reach to top. I scanned the area for Jerry but didn't see him yet, so I spent a few minutes getting my summit shots. First up was a view of the traverse to Arnot Peak, not looking too bad after all. There are many peaks in this area, including Highland Peak, Whitecliff Peak, Stanislaus Peak, and Leavitt Peak. I found a survey marker and the summit register and enjoyed looking through the register which dated back to 1987. In flipping through the pages I came across the 12 year old entry of Bob Burd, along with what looked to be maybe a dozen entries per year. All entries fit in this one book, and I added my name to the list.

After less than 10 minutes on top I located Jerry coming up the steep hillside, he spotted me and I waved back. We were too far away to communicate, but I didn't mind resting for a bit before starting on the traverse, and a few minutes later Jerry made it to the bottom of the summit blocks. He joined me on top, we took some shots of each other and I let him know I was ready to start on the traverse. He decided to stay on top of Disaster and eat lunch, and so we said our goodbyes and I made my way along the easy ridgeline in a circular trek over to Arnot. The traverse was very simple, and at its worst I lost 700 feet of elevation which had to be regained. Not too bad at all. What did concern me was the cliffy summit area, and I had not been able to find any information online as to the difficulty of the final ridgeline traverse to actually get to the summit. As I got closer my adrenaline picked up - this was looking like a lot of fun. The traverse started with a narrow ridge line walk, after which I was always able to find a way just off the top of the ridge, either right or left of the ridgeline proper. It wound up being lots of fun, albeit a bit slow going but I made it to the top by 3:45, for a traverse time of about 2 hours.

The views from Arnot are largely similar as those on Disaster - that is to say they are fantastic. I enjoyed the view back towards my traverse, with Disaster Peak and Stanislaus Peak in alignment behind the rocky ridge. More prominent form this location was Airola Peak. I located 2 register boxes and sat down to rest and enjoy the contents. The first box, dating back to 1963 was some sort of a memorial which contained several notes and photographs of the Arnot family. The second box held the summit registers, and I added my name to the hundreds who had come before me. I stayed on top for about 20 minutes, took a summit shot, then stated back on the fun ridgeline traverse, before dropping off the right side of the ridgeline and descending the SE slope of the mountain.

Along the easy cross country descent I was treated to several giant rock pinnacles and a amazing displays of wildflowers. I descended down until I met a faint use trail, shown as a trail on my map but one that was clearly no longer maintained. Eventually this connected back to the original trail we had taken in that morning, although maybe a half mile out from where we had turned on the climbers trail. I followed it back, and noticed a much more clear marking for the actual climbers trail (rather than the shortcut we took earlier). This was less than a quarter mile from where we had turned, so it probably doesn't matter that much. The rest of the return was over ground already covered, back through the green vegetation and under the Iceberg before finally getting back to the car at 6:30. I'm really looking forward to lots more summer hiking in the months to come!

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